Khanh the Killjoy

How I Live Now

How I Live Now - Meg Rosoff Actual rating: 3.5"I guess there was a war going on somewhere in the world that night but it wasn’t one that could touch us."Recommended with some reservations.I read this book on accident. By "accident," I don't mean I mistakenly read a book instead when I thought I had been playing Plants vs. Zombies 2 I'm not that stupid, I meant that I picked up this book thinking the story would be something else. During World War II in England, there was an operation to evacuate children from the larger cities to more rural areas of England to keep them safe from possible airstrikes from the Axis forces. This has been the basis of some stories I've enjoyed, most notably in the Narnia series, and the Noel Streatfield novel When the Sirens Wailed. I've also watched my fair share of TV episodes based on this premise, so that is the reason why I started reading this book.I thought this was going to be a book based on a WWII evacuation. I clearly didn't read the word "MANHATTAN" in the freaking first sentence of the summary, nor did I see the "SCI-FI" tag, because I sometimes have an annoying tendency to read only what I want to see. Still, the premise is an interesting one, so I continued with the book. It didn't sound so bad at all, really, quite solidly in my forte when I think about it. A war, survival, love, maturity...all up my forte. Cousinly love? Whatever, I've got no problems with that in fiction, as long as it's believably built. Hell, I've read my fair share of worst incestuous relationships. This book just might turn out awesomely after all, despite not being what I initially signed up for.This was a short book, but within the first 25 pages, I was sure I would give this book a 2. Things improved, but it took a good 50% of the book for me to begin enjoying it.The problem is the narrator, Elizabeth (known throughout this book as Daisy). She is a 15 year old originally from Manhattan, and my first impression of her was not good. She was a little bitch. I hated her for most of the book. Her narrative was what gave me so much trouble; she is so selfish, so self-centered, so utterly self-absorbed. I didn't like her, I didn't trust her, and to me, she was an unreliable narrator because her view of the world is so in completely focused upon ME ME ME."No matter how much you put on a sad expression and talked about how awful it was that all those people were killed and what about democracy and the Future of Our Great Nation the fact that none of us kids said out loud was that WE DIDN’T REALLY CARE. Most of the people who got killed were either old like our parents so they’d had good lives already, or people who worked in banks and were pretty boring anyway, or other people we didn’t know."Daisy is spoiled and a pain in the ass. Her mother died giving birth to her, and in essence, Daisy thinks of herself as a murderer, having killed someone as she draws her first breath. Her father remarried a woman named Davina...and Jesus, how Daisy hates Davina."...Davina the Diabolical, who sucked my father’s soul out through his you know what and then got herself knocked up with the devil’s spawn which, when it pops out, Leah and I are going to call Damian even if it’s a girl."Her pettiness and attitude towards her mother is not uncommon, but Daisy's hatred is so spiteful and bitter and over the top that I can't help but hate her for it. Daisy yammers on for a considerable amount of time about how she hates Davina...but it's never made completely clear WHY we should hate Davina so much besides for the very fact that she happened to be the woman who married her father.Oh, and apparently Daisy's got an eating disorder. How did she become this way?"I really tried to explain about at first not wanting to get poisoned by my stepmother and how much it annoyed her and how after a while I discovered I liked the feeling of being hungry and the fact that it drove everyone stark raving mad and cost my father a fortune in shrinks and also it was something I was good at."Yeah...she's not the most likeable character. Her first-person narrative style also drove me crazy. The story is written almost from a stream of consciousness style, and it really annoyed me. Added to my dislike of the main character, and I was not a happy reader for the first half of the book. I just wanted to yell at Daisy "What? Are you too fucking good to use quotation marks for speech like everyone else?"Little bitch. I seriously hated Daisy.She is a really, really self-centered narrator. There is a war going on, she doesn't seem to care. Daisy seems more concerned about her own problems and her *womp womp* sad poor-little-rich-girl life than anyone else around her, even when a bomb goes off in London and the world descends into chaos. For the first half of the book, her descriptions of the war and its devastation are described coldly, impersonally, there is no sense of danger, of mortality, of impending doom. Daisy is so detached from it all, in her own egotistical little mind."That was a bomb that went off in the middle of a big train station in London the day after Aunt Penn went to Oslo and something like seven or seventy thousand people got killed.This obviously went over very badly with the populace at large and was pretty scary etc. but to be honest it didn’t seem to have that much to do with us way off in the country."Everything from the war is described similarly in this impersonal, disinterested manner. It frustrated me to no ends. Daisy does grow up, she does mature...she does wake up from her ostrich-in-the-sand status when things literally hit close to home, and her character grows in complexity, although so gradually that I hardly noticed it happening myself. I actually enjoyed the subtlety of her character development.I did not like the other characters in this book. I didn't feel like anyone else besides Daisy had a personality besides herself, most likely because Daisy's personality is so obnoxious that it overpowers everything surrounding it. Piper is the perfect princess, Isaac is the autistic twin, Osbert is the pompous prick of an older brother, Edmond is the *clutches pearl* cousinly love interest...and he is just dull.I have nothing against incest in fiction, I really don't. Cousin-cousin relationships are even less shocking, but there is a way of building up these sorts of relationships to make them believable and I just did not buy the concept of Daisy & Edmond in this book. Edmond is just...weird. He's a short little 14-year old who was smoking a cigarette when they first met, and he seems to be able to read Daisy's mind. Edmond was such a creepy character for me, and their interactions were so limited so that when they began a physical relationship, I was utterly astounded at how fast and how wrong it felt. It's not the nature of the cousin/cousin relationship that bothers me, it's the implausibility of it.My favorite part about the book---when it FINALLY came---was the survival aspect. Without the knowledge that this book is set in present-time, this book could easily have been set in the 1940s, there is a timelessness in how it feels, but that's perhaps intrinsic in a story of this nature. Working for the war effort, struggling to find resources, banding together to help one another, facing the immediate danger from home, as well as from the enemy. All these, I reveled in. The latter half of the book was far superior to the first even if I was disappointed by the book overall.