Saturday, 1 June 2013

Review: All Our Pretty Songs by Sarah McCarry

All our pretty Songs by Sarah McCarry.


Many thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for providing this book for review.

From goodreads: The first book in an exciting YA trilogy, this is the story of two best friends on the verge of a terrifying divide when they begin to encounter a cast of strange and mythical characters.

Set against the lush, magical backdrop of the Pacific Northwest, two inseparable best friends who have grown up like sisters—the charismatic, mercurial, and beautiful Aurora and the devoted, soulful, watchful narrator—find their bond challenged for the first time ever when a mysterious and gifted musician named Jack comes between them. Suddenly, each girl must decide what matters most: friendship, or love. What both girls don’t know is that the stakes are even higher than either of them could have imagined. They’re not the only ones who have noticed Jack’s gift; his music has awakened an ancient evil—and a world both above and below which may not be mythical at all. The real and the mystical; the romantic and the heartbreaking all begin to swirl together, carrying the two on journey that is both enthralling and terrifying.

And it’s up to the narrator to protect the people she loves—if she can.

Oh where do I begin with this review? I hate to be negative, I really do, and I always try to find the good in any book I read… but with ‘All Our Pretty Songs’ this is going to be a struggle.

Okay, so let me try and focus on the positives.

All Our Pretty Songs is the tale of two best friends – brought up as sisters and leading whimsical lives that distinctly lack authority, direction or boundaries. Aurora is the daughter of a dead rock star and a drug addled mother. She lives a life of her own and flits along – an image of beauty and nonchalance, whilst the narrator (whose name we do not know) is her eternal protector. She is the one who keeps Aurora safe. She drags her home from concerts when she is too stoned or drunk to know what she is doing, and she makes sure that she doesn’t roam the night with too many strange men.

When the narrator falls in love with an older musician – the cracks in her and Aurora’s relationship begin to appear. Then when Aurora friendship with a skeleton looking man takes a dark turn, the crack turns into a gaping void that errs on the side of freaky and sends them tumbling into a very dark underworld.

The narrator is an artist – which was one aspect of the book that I did like. I liked imagining the beautiful creations she makes (especially on one occasion when she actually draws on a persons back!). I liked her. I liked her teenage angst and her obsession with black clothing and her awkwardness. I liked seeing her walls come down when she spoke about Jack and her constant support of Aurora. I liked that she was at least a little bit responsible – when the rest of the book was not.

I liked hearing about the relationship between the narrator and Aurora – it was interesting to see how a friendship between two opposites can be so intense and deep. However, I never felt a connection to Aurora. I felt that she constantly took advantage of the narrators responsible nature and whenever things when wrong for Aurora – I simply didn’t care. I wanted her out of the book. I wanted her to leave the narrator alone to get on with her angst filled teenage life. I felt like she was selfish and self-centred.

I also thought that the content in this book was simply inappropriate for the target audience. In it we see the main two characters (who are both in High School) having sex with strange men that they do not know, drinking alcohol to the point of incoherence, smoking all manner of things and taking intravenous drugs. I’m not prudish and I don’t live in a bubble – but would I want my teenage niece to read this? Um, no!

The description in this book was another irritating factor for me. Yes, set the scene – but don’t do it over three pages in the middle of a conversation. I got so tired of the overuse of adjectives that I ended up skimming through them just to find the next part of the conversation. How many ways can one person describe a man playing a guitar? It turns out… a lot!

This book was the first in a trilogy. Usually, in trilogies, I feel inspired to read the second book even when I didn’t enjoy the first book  - just to see what happened. I can’t see this happening with the second installment of this book. I didn’t relate to the content or the characters and I didn’t like where the story ended up.  

This wasn’t one for me, I’m afraid.

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