I'm really not exaggerating when I say I've been looking forward to the release of Eligible for years. Ever since the Austen Project launched with the news that one of my favourite authors, Curtis Sittenfeld would be taking on Jane's most-loved book, to be exact. So expectations were high, although adjusted somewhat after I hated Alexander McCall Smith's Emma so much that I couldn't even finish it. It took me a good few chapters to get into the rhythm of the novel, and especially to get to know the 'new' Lizzie, but once I had I loved it. Relocating the action from rural 19th century England to 21st century Cincinnati works remarkably well, with Mrs Bennet's transformation into a shopping addicted, casually racist lady-who-lunches being particularly well done. I flew through the short, snappy chapters with a grin on my face, delighted at the smart, witty dialogue, the small touches harking back the original novel, and the clever ways in which Sittenfeld has updated others. A wonderful read, and one I am sure I will return to.
The Kind Worth Killing
The Kind Worth Killing is a superior psychological thriller, much recommended if you enjoyed the plot twists and amoral characters in Gone Girl.
You Know Me Well*
David Levithan & Nina LaCour
I love David Levithan's work when he's writing with someone else - Nick & Norah's Infinie Playlist and Dash & Lily's Book Of Dares (both with Rachel Cohn) are two of my favourite YA novels - and You Know Me Well doesn't buck the trend. The book follows Mark and Kate, seniors at the same high school who bump into each other at random on a night out in San Francisco (a night which, for various reasons, doesn't go too well for either of them). Kate's storyline perfectly evoked that teenage feeling of growing apart from friends who used to be your whole world, while Mark's deals with the pain of unrequited love. I loved that both characters, and their friends, were portrayed flaws and all. Kate makes decisions that not only seem irrational but that hurt others, while Mark's best friend breaks his heart by not reciprocating his feelings, but we never judge them because we've all been there. It was especially enjoyable to read a contemporary YA novel which is much more about friendship than it is about romance.
Since You've Been Gone
Since You've Been Gone was a surprisingly enjoyable novel set over the course of a summer. Essentially not a great deal happens - Emily's best friend moves away, leaving her with a list of challenges to complete, which she does with the help of the usual motley band of strangers - but I liked it a lot, nevertheless.
London Belongs To Us*
I was so excited to read this book because I adore Sarra Manning and particularly loved her previous YA novel, Adorkable. In London Belongs To Us we meet Sunny, an engaging and sympathetic heroine who's seeking either revenge on or reconciliation with - she's not quite sure - her boyfriend after she sees a picture of him kissing another girl. We follow her on a madcap twelve hour race across London from Crystal Palace to Alexandra Palace, via Camden, Shoreditch, Dalston, Soho, Chelsea and Notting Hill, during which time she outwits a group of thugs, steals a bike, becomes an internet sensation, meets the terrifying Jeanne (fans of Adorkable will cheer), crashes a house party, and much more. I wanted very badly to love this book but didn't, perhaps because I read it hot on the heels of Since You've Been Gone, with which is shares some superficial characteristics (meek and well-behaved girl learns how to cut loose). That being said, the portrayal of London clearly bespeaks of Manning's huge love for her city, and the supporting characters, especially the posh private school kids - with shades of Made In Chelsea - are enormous fun.
Golden Boy is a sensitive, if not always entirely believable, look at the life of an Intersex teenager. It made compelling reading and I enjoyed it a lot, but the chapters were notably stronger when narrated by Max, the 'Golden Boy' of the title, while those from an adult PoV were less convincing.
The First Fifteen Lives Of Harry August
Thomas has been telling me for months that I needed to read The First Fifteen Lives Of Harry August and I finally capitulated. This was the second time-bendy, multiple-life science fiction books I've read recently (with the first being Bone Clocks), and I found it an easier yet less satisfying read than David Mitchell's book.
* These books were kindly provided by the publishers via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.