Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Recent Reads #4: The Hate U Give, Crazy Rich Asians, Wilde Like Me


The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas | ☆☆☆
Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer.


Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed.

I can't believe it took me so long to read this! I received The Hate U Give all the way back in December 2016 at the Walker Books blogger Christmas party but put it down at the time because I wasn't quite connecting to it. Fast forward to March 2018 and it's probably my favourite book of the year so far! Sometimes it's just about reading a book at the right time, because when I picked it up this time I instantly fell into the story and the world - which is our world, but so far from anything I've experienced - and that's why this book is important.

In a way I'm glad I waited until now to finish it, because books like The Hate U Give aren't just about the hype. We still need to be talking about this book, and the Black Lives Matter movement, a year later, five years later and forever. Because if we stop talking about it, then nothing will change.

Angie Thomas writes Starr with such a strong voice and she's struggling with normal teenage things: a boyfriend, school, friendships and family - but these things are made so much more strained and complex by race issues. Starr struggles with race on a personal level, an institutional level and a societal level and Angie Thomas' handling of that is excellent.

Family is such a huge theme in this book and I loved it so much. Starr's family are so close and so real and amazing. After the book ended I genuinely felt sad because I wanted to spend more time with them. If you haven't already read this then you absolutely must.



Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan | ☆☆☆
When Rachel Chu agrees to spend the summer in Singapore with her boyfriend, Nicholas Young, she envisions a humble family home and time with the man she might one day marry. What she doesn't know is that Nick's family home happens to look like a palace, that she'll ride in more private planes than cars and that she is about to encounter the strangest, craziest group of people in existence.

This book was a hell of a good time, a fun-filled romp through the lifestyles of a certain secretive class of Singaporeans, with some surprisingly emotional moments. Crazy Rich Asians isn't just fun fluff, it's pretty well written and the characterisation is excellent; a tough feat with such a huge ensemble cast. I did find myself having to refer to the family tree at the front of the book quite a bit but it got less confusing as I went on and each PoV chapter had a distinctive voice. I'm so glad that it's being adapted into a film, I can't wait to see how all the characters are portrayed.

Crazy Rich Asians is one of those rare books which felt like I was completely in the world. The characters were so well-realised and their lives so extravagant that I found myself thinking about it when I wasn't reading and couldn't wait to pick it up again. Having spent some time in Asia, it made me want to go back, not least for the amazing food that was described so lovingly and in such detail in the book.

Not all books have to be groundbreaking, often it's enough to have a good time and be totally transported whilst reading and Crazy Rich Asians definitely did that for me.

Wilde Like Me by Louise Pentland | ☆☆.5
Robin Wilde is an awesome single mum. She's great at her job. Her best friend Lacey and bonkers Auntie Kath love her and little Lyla Blue to the moon and back. From the outside, everything looks just fine. But behind the mask she carefully applies every day, things sometimes feel . . . grey. And lonely. After 4 years (and 2 months and 24 days!) of single-mum-dom, it's time for Robin Wilde to Change. Her. Life! A little courage, creativity and help from the wonderful women around her go a long way. And Robin is about to embark on quite an adventure . . . 

I listened to Wilde Like Me on audiobook as I'm a fan of Louise's YouTube channel. She's a funny and relatable voice in the vlogging world and I was intrigued to see if that translated onto the page. This was a fun, lighthearted book but ultimately disappointing. It would have benefited from some more careful editing as the plot progression felt quite inconsistent and the writing could've flowed a bit better, there were a lot of phrases that felt awkward and more than a few cases of unnatural dialogue.

Robin was an unlikeable protagonist for me and although I don't always mind these grey-area characters it was obvious that she was supposed to be very relatable and the reader was supposed to feel warm towards her. She felt a tad over-dramatic at times and she was so self absorbed it was kind of painful. Her character didn't progress much throughout the book and I found that disappointing.

The plot was pretty slow and didn't really go anywhere and although I don't always mind this, the characterisation and humour weren't strong enough to make up for it. It was quite a nice, fun book and I didn't mind passing the time with the audiobook on the way to work but ultimately it wasn't for me and I don't think I'll be picking up the sequel when it comes out.

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What have you been reading lately? Let me know in the comments or tweet me!

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