Preachy Priestley’s Inspector Calls Commits Seven Deadly Sins Against Literature

an inspector calls

I can’t say that I didn’t know this would be bad. I once helped someone get an A* on an essay, without having to read the play. The fact that it is that easy to get a good grade should tell you all you need to know about the “quality” of Inspector Calls… and yet some people still attest it’s a masterpiece. Well, sorry, the false niceties of Priestley’s garbage haven’t won me over. It’s crap. Let’s get into my (rather indolent) explanation as to why that is…

SLOTH- it’s lazily written. Merely a vehicle for Priestley’s sanctimonious preaching, this play is stagey, melodramatic and mindlessly bland. *Amazingly* all the characters sound the same and you’d never know who’s talking if you hadn’t been told. And by amazing, I mean it’s so shoddily written that none of the characters come across as remotely real. Everyone is a cardboard cut-out with as much personality as those Knight vs Peasant mock debates Tudors used to write to weigh up the pros and cons of Enclosure. Which nicely segues into hot take number two…

GLUTTONY- this is stuffed full of bad characters– chief among them is the Inspector, the titular character and the closest we get to the hero in the play. It is with the greatest irony, then, that this faceless imposter actually comes across as the villain. He reminded me distinctly of the bureaucrats in Kafka’s Trial and Bulgakov’s Master and Margarita. He’s much like the KGB invading the home without due-process and demanding everyone kowtow to their demands. It’s not clear for most of the play whether the accused are guilty and frankly it doesn’t matter- this is not what amounts to a fair trial. Believe me, I get that this is supposed to be like the ghoul of past sins coming to visit, yet as a moral arbiter, matilda chocolate cake.gifthe Inspector looks rather sinister and ultimately reflects the fact that Priestley does not know what true justice looks like. Of course, in the true fashion of badly written propaganda, everyone in the cast conveniently fesses up to their alleged crimes. Never mind that this is wholly unrealistic. No, fans of the play tend to overlook this poor characterisation, because they are delivered their own preconceived ideas by the plateful.

PRIDE- in his arrogance, Priestley is really insulting to the working class. Again, fond as he is of the faceless entity, he tries to create sympathy through the “universal” entity Eva Smith/Daisy Renton/symbolic-poor-chick. In reality, this reduction dehumanises the working class, especially as he seems to be stating that the poor have no responsibility for their own actions, no agency of their own and thus every interaction with the rich must inevitably push them closer to offing themselves. Nice. Really progressive. Very “Thirteen Reasons Why” before it was cool. All the horror is placed at the Birling’s door, but Eva (knowingly) kills herself and her unborn child with her. But she’s totally sympathetic because you see poor people don’t have autonomy– gosh this is patronising bilge. Frankly, I find this uppity attitude insulting and out of touch, but what do I know? I’m poor 😉

LUST- Priestly is in love with the sound of his own voice. Moralising and moaning and beating you over the head with its message, Priestley is determined to bludgeon you into agreeing with him. What makes this THE PITS in terms of plot is that there’s no story here- beyond emphasis on causality, there’s nothing to it. The message isn’t even powerful, half of it is just “be nicer to each other” platitudes. You want a round of applause for that Priestley? Of course, there is a more sinister side to the argument…

ENVY- it is built on the politics of envy. The fact that this was first performed in the Soviet Union should give you some idea of its political leanings (yeah, I fact checked this several times to make sure I wasn’t seeing things, this was first performed in 1945 in LENINGRAD). Not that it really bothers to explore left-wing ideas with any real depth or offer any real solutions- that would be a more challenging endeavour and as we’ve already established, Priestley was a lazy prat. Still, its origins are relevant. The resurgence of this play in the 1990s is credited as being because of its “universal” ideas reaching beyond the Soviet Union. Really, beyond telling you that people like vacuous banalities, it should tell you that not enough people bother to read Solzhenitsyn and have the memories of goldfish when it comes to the evils of communism. Heck, they don’t even like to look beyond their borders to Venezuela these days. It’s a shameful blight on our education system that this piece of propaganda is given the same amount of space on the exams as the likes of Dickens and Shakespeare, but ho hum, it’s easy and fun to indoctrinate kids. I don’t suppose it matters that…

WRATH it’s just blind rage, absentia any logic. While wildly aiming his fury at the “system”, Priestley’s drivel makes for pretty poor analysis. Literature should be endlessly complex not an algebraic formula of (the author’s) authoritative ideas. And yet, here’s a book asking to be solved in the simplest way. People somehow feel clever knowing exactly what Priestley intended them to know, like they’ve solved the world’s hardest puzzle- stressed monkey orangutan0002except this is a game designed for toddlers and you should feel a little ashamed if you’re patting yourself on the back for putting the round peg in the round hole. This is deliberately straightforward to trick you into thinking it’s clever (which is a stupid move, if you ask me). The only reason people like this is because of confirmation bias- not because it’s making any solid arguments. In my book, it barely makes the cut as literature, let alone a classic. The fact that it’s somehow managed to make it onto exams makes me wrathful.

GREED– it greedily steals one more twist… and ouch. It made me groan. The ending is a gimmick and used to disguise the fact you’ve been preached to- so I guess I’ve come full circle to the fact this is just not a very good play. Which leads me to do the stingiest thing of all with the rating and give it a banana peel:


And that’s all for now! If you thought my analogies sucked, that’s cos my brains went on vacation after reading this trash. Have you had the misfortune to read this? Let me know in the comments!

Make Some Noise for Radio Silence!

radio silence

Hearing about this all over the internet, I have to admit, I wasn’t sure this was going to be for me. It sounded a little like a typical contemporary YA, aimed at a not-quite-me audience, and trying to be something it wasn’t. Despite my reservations, I decided to pick it up annnnd BAM!

bam friends

This hit me like a ton of bricks! I could not have anticipated how much this book about fangirling over a podcast would hook me. Fascinating and nuanced and layered- it’s a proper coming of age story, with all that entails. And yet does none of this in the usual way!

Tuning in, the tone was instantly relatable and captured the tone of modern Britain. The writing simultaneously managed to be well written and also get the lingo down. The speech in particular was incredibly natural- like listening in on actual teens- like looking at a snapshot of people’s actual lives.

All the characters in this felt super real. There wasn’t a single weak link- there were so many lovable friendships and family relationships crammed into one book (Frances’ mum in particular is a Rockstar of a character!). And I loved the contrasting vibes I got from everyone- it was such an eclectic mix of people. Obviously, I was also a massive fan of the *online friendship meets real life* storyline- it just made me absurdly happy. And really liked how Aled wanting to keep his identity secret wove into other themes.

At the same time, this wasn’t just light and frothy all the way. This dealt with a TON of important issues. In fact, I was particularly impressed by how this handles the topic of abuse. What I especially liked was that it made a strong case for not knowing what goes on behind closed doors. The ass-umption is that Aled is privileged for going to a good uni and running a successful blog- but people don’t know what really goes on in his life. The exploration of this was handled sensitively, whilst not beating around the bush. I cannot express how much respect for this book for doing this justice.

I’m also glad that this doesn’t present uni as all sunshine and roses. Not that I want people to be put off, but too many books do that. Too often we are bombarded with the “best time of your life” line and that it’s the “be all and end all”- which can be hard to live up to. It is refreshing to tell some different stories for a change: plenty of people don’t go, many are rejected, lots of people hate it, some are pressured into doing subjects they don’t want to do, a fair few drop out/change courses (or go through a mixture of the above). Somehow, this book managed to explore a lot of those options.

And that’s just one of the reasons I think this is a seminal book for this generation. Everything from the highs and lows of fandom to being an anxious young nerd to coming to terms with who you are was given space on the page to develop. It really spoke to me on a deep and personal level- yet what’s most amazing about Radio Silence is seeing on Goodreads how many people found different parts relatable. As much as I felt Oseman was personally talking to me, tens of thousands of other people felt the same way. And that’s just brilliant.

While I’m not sure it will be for everyone, I can safely say this is an accurate portrayal of what it’s like to be a teen in the UK in the 21st century. I didn’t know it before I read it, but I legit *needed* this book. I’m all abuzz with excitement for Radio Silence- so let’s raise the roof and give it:

Rating: 5/5 bananas


So have you read this? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!

Monthly Monkey Mini Reviews – October

monthly mini reviews version 2

Phew- I’ve gotta admit my thoughts about this month were a bit like this for me…

wake me up when september ends.gif

Thank goodness it’s October, the month of spookiness, pumpkins and maybe even a little controversy 😉 But, more on my blogging plans later! For now, let’s talk about the *ridiculous* amount of reading I did to get me through last month. As you’ll notice, I was not only on a MASSIVE thriller kick, but I also felt the need to talk about most books I read last month. So, strap in, it’s gonna be a long one!

death of mrs westaway

The Death of Mrs Westaway– such a strong thriller to start on! Let’s break it down:

One, the sorrowful opening had me intrigued, flying into that old magpie nursery rhyme many of us have ingrained since childhood and nesting layers of mystery.

Two, the gothic vibes and overt links to Rebecca really worked for me, especially as we journeyed into Cornwall. Yet, don’t be fooled! It’s far from a straightforward retelling…

Three, the girl is the magician figure at the heart of the story- a tarot reader upturning the perfectly ordered world of the Westaways, reading more than she should in the cards.

Four, the boys on which the clues converge caught my eye.

Five, the silvery writing kept me engaged throughout.

Six, the golden promise of the premise, leading me down one path, only to about turn down another. I suspected the outcome early on, but Ware’s nicely played sleight of hand fooled me so that I couldn’t properly foresee the outcome.

Seven, all the secrets that unfold. Each one is more satisfying to uncover than the last. The one thing holding me back from rewarding this with all the bananas is that the perp is the *usual suspect*. Still, I’d highly recommend this:

Rating: 4½/5 bananas

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the woman in cabin 10

The Woman in Cabin 10– so the pitch for this thriller is pretty straightforward: Rear Window- on a boat! It’s a fun idea and kept me absorbed throughout, but I couldn’t say it made a big splash overall. Perhaps it was cos I was drowning in thrillers this month, yet a lot of this felt like it was treading water trying to be different and still felt samey. I wasn’t hugely taken with the mc and the twists didn’t really wash. Still, I do like how Ware weaves in inspiration from other sources and will keeping a keen eye out for more of her books:

Rating: 3/5 bananas


last time I lied

Last Time I Lied– to tell the truth, this was my favourite thriller of the month. Reading this was pretty much a no brainer after Lock Every Door– and it certainly didn’t disappoint! Beginning with a powerful use of second person pov, I was instantly gripped by the descriptive prose and tragic backstory. As is the case in many thrillers, I wasn’t quite able to connect with the characters, but the plot more than made up for that. Last Time I Lied was compelling, unpredictable and led down slippery paths. Though I knew something bad would happen, I could never count on the whens, whys, hows. I was as lost as the protagonist. My attention dipped momentarily… only for the BIG TURN to pick up the pace again. The *freaky* turn of events grabbed my attention. I was practically shouting at the reveals. I had been led to believe I was in for a straightforward ending… but I was completely deceived. *WOW*- it blew my expectations right out of the water. All in all, this was a super summery thriller. Sager has now made a habit of keeping me up at night. I can’t lie: I want to read more from this author.

Rating: 4½/5 bananas

hand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-bananahand-drawn-banana half-a-hand-drawn-banana

final girls

Final Girls– with a cool horror-movie-themed concept and a gripping opening, I thought I was guaranteed another rollercoaster ride. Unfortunately, I found the flashback scenes far more interesting than the present-day narrative. I’ve mentioned before I have difficulty making sense of thriller-characters- and the protagonist’s boyfriend and mum were the best example of this- what the eff was up with their attitudes?! I mean, they spent the entire book thinking the mc ought to be completely normal after her ordeal, even though it was completely understandable that she wasn’t! I did like the unreliable side to the protagonist, especially since it blended well with her cookie-cutter façade. Still, I did enjoy the vast majority of the plot and where a lot of the breadcrumbs led. The problem is, I just wasn’t crazy about that final twist. Once again, I thought I could guess the twist… but I got it all wrong. Yet this time it was because the lead was buried too deep. After the more intriguing premise, highlight for spoilers, I felt the *here’s another random sociopath again* disappointing. It was just another guy without a proper motive. So, the bait and switch with the baddies felt unnecessary. I did like this book, but it wasn’t the best:

Rating: 3½/5 bananas

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wife between us

The Wife Between Us– I’m divided on my feelings for this book. It was particularly well written, had a strong premise and a great midpoint turn, alas- it just wasn’t the mind-blowing book I was hoping for. It was a typical thriller focusing on domestic violence. Nothing about it truly shook me to my core or shocked me. I could see a lot of the story beats a mile off. This was by no means bad, but I can’t see why the hype train was so wedded to this book 😉

Rating: 3/5 bananas


witches of east end

Witches of East End- an atmospheric opening, a cool concept, a story I already liked from the show- what could go wrong? Well, sadly, a few things. Even though the show is a vague memory at this point, I did remember that some aspects were done better and I just preferred the TV take. I didn’t connect with the characters as much as I had when I watched the show. Fortunately, the plot did keep me on my toes. Since it was so long since I’d seen the show, I enjoyed the twists and turns throughout. And the ending definitely had a strong hook to make the reader want to pick up more… if only I had been more in love with the rest of it!

Rating: 3/5 bananas



Beastly- well this is another one where I’d seen the adaptation first, buuut I ended up preferring the book to the film! Success! Given that this is a retelling, I don’t suppose it mattered much that I already knew the story. Besides, I thought this was a spunky, modern take on the classic. While I’m not usually keen on text-speak, I did like how it was used here to spark a bit of humour. The story also felt deeper than the movie- yes, the message of inner beauty being more valuable was repetitious- but at least it made more sense than in the Hollywood version where everyone was conventionally attractive throughout. I particularly preferred the book’s ending- it had some nice, unexpected turns and was more dramatic. All in all, I didn’t go in expecting anything fresh, so was pleasantly surprised to find this blossomed into a sweet romantic YA.

Rating: 4/5 bananas



Beowulf– this was *hands down* the best book I read all month. This exquisite translation by Seamus Heaney gave me a newfound respect for his work and I owe thanks to the fantastic Joelendil for recommending it to me. I absolutely adored the way the alliterative language leapt off the page and painted a vivid picture of the past. While I don’t personally know Old English, I found it fascinating to have a bilingual edition, because I could easily compare individual words and phrases. The story itself was a lot more entertaining than I thought. Every part worked in tandem to create thrilling tension and awe-inspiring drama. This took me to grim depths and dragon-soaring highs. I cannot recommend it enough!

Rating: 5/5 bananas


eugene onegin

Eugene Onegin– there was a lot to like about this: the story, the character and Pushkin’s conversational tone all shined through in Roger Clarke’s translation. Sadly though, something does feel lost in this rather literal translation. Something of old Russia is evoked, but not as much as I’d have liked. I felt like I was only getting half the wonder, a glimpse of the beauty, a fraction of the emotion. Ah well, not every translation can all be as good as Seamus Heaney’s Beowulf. It was still worth the read.

Rating: 4/5 bananas 


So, have you read any of these? What did you think of them? Or do you plan to pick any of them up? Let me know in the comments!

Dear My Plain Jane – You Are Beautiful To Me!

my plain janeDear My Plain Jane,

I must confess I feel like I am cheating on My Lady Jane with this letter- but I cannot hold it in any longer- I cannot keep my feelings stashed away in the attic like a dirty secret! After My Lady Jane, I was bereft of witty fantasy company and there you were: dressing and talking and acting the same way. You lured me in with your wicked wiles, you made me pick you up. I could not resist peeking between your pages.

And I must say, your charms increased the more I got to know you. While you didn’t make me fall for you quite as fast as my first love, you did hook me with your premise. You weren’t quite the same as your predecessor; you had your own unique personality. I liked the new take though! The concept of a retelling of Jane Eyre where titular character was literally haunted was a great deal of fun. I was not prepared, however, for the little surprises along the way.

Initially, I thought the original characters were getting the rough end of the stick (yes, Mr Rochester is a jerk, but I still love him) yet in the end this was a kinder retelling than I expected. More than that, you went above and beyond to give the characters the story they deserved. Jane’s narrative was sweeter, more focused on friendship and focused more on how we deal with hardships. Even better was the meta take on Charlotte Bronte- giving a never-before-seen glimpse into her life (well, a fantastical, joyful take anyway). I did like the relationships and cute romances throughout. I especially liked how this all led to an aww-inspiring happy ending.

Your humour was breath-taking as well! I enjoyed every refence to pop culture- from LOTR to the Princess Bride to Scooby Doo! Each one made me throw my head back laughing. You were a riot! I think I guffawed the loudest when you mentioned My Lady Jane.

Anyway, I have to say as much as I am a fan of Jane Eyre, I was able to take this unique reimaging in the spirit it was intended and didn’t mind the changes it made (I know, I surprised myself again). Reader, this book was a lot of fun. Please find enclosed:

Rating: 4½/5 bananas

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Sincerely, Orangutan Librarian

booklove orangutan


King of Scars was close to flawless!

*Spoilers for Shadow and Bone and Six of Crows– cos I just can’t talk about this without mentioning them- so if you haven’t read those why not?!*

king of scarsReturning to the Grishaverse after two successful series was always going to be no small feat- thankfully Bardugo delivers an intriguing instalment that definitely made me want to read on. With Bardugo’s trademark elegant writing style, the story opens on a dark night that sets the scene for much of what is to come. We are soon reintroduced to an eclectic cast who are bound to have us rooting for them.

The titular character Nikolai is, of course, marvellous- for much of the book, I found his story about overcoming the monster within him was the most compelling. I was admittedly only invested in Nina’s story while the book explored her grief for Matthias and my interest in her storyline waned as the book progressed. That said, Zoya was a true dark horse for me- I initially didn’t warm to her but by the end I *loved* her!!! She quickly turned from a former antagonist to one of the most compelling characters of the series. Her backstory was done remarkably well and her plotline gave her a lot of chances to truly shine.

When I was around Nikolai and Zoya, the book flew by. Journeying with them into the Fold, I enjoyed their exploration of folktales and the brilliant twist around the midpoint that arose from this. I particularly admired how this allowed for the development of Grisha powers in a cool way. Also, the explanation for “why Grisha” is finally given (which gave me the sense Bardugo was answering a very old question). I’d definitely say that every plot beat fell precisely as it should, like a set of staged dominoes after a really good flick, which does lead me onto some more spoilery stuff that you’ll have to highlight to see…

The big finale twist isn’t much of a twist. The return of the Darkling is foreshadowed so heavily that it felt inevitable. That said, I did actually like that Bardugo doesn’t just tease doing something cool, she does it (which is a shift from her earlier books). Plus, on the positive side, I liked the how of the Darkling being brought back and didn’t see the betrayal coming. Still, I’m not quite certain I think bringing back a villain who’s already been defeated was the right way to go- although I will wait to see how it plays out in the next book before making my mind up. And to be honest, I’m just glad the same thing Matthias didn’t also escape death- firstly because two in one book would’ve been a bit much and secondly because I’m not keen on being robbed of my endings (especially when that ending really landed for me).

Overall, while imperfect as the king, this did give us a glimpse of shadows and divinity peeking through. I’d say this isn’t as good as Six of Crows, but it’s better than Shadow and Bone. And now I want the next one!

Rating: 4/5 bananas


So are you into the Grishaverse? Have you read this? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!

Monthly Monkey Mini Reviews – September

monthly mini reviews version 2

Well, August was both very quiet and ridiculously busy for me. The highlight was that for my mum’s birthday- where not only did we make plenty of cake, but we all got to fulfil a lifelong dream by going to see the Bolshoi Ballet’s Swan Lake. It was *magical* (I swear, if you’re ever within 100 miles of this, you should drop everything and go see!!)

monkey baby and orangutan at the opera0003

Funnily enough, it was a month of ballet, since my sister the Monkey Baby kindly wangled me a few free classes. Me and my two left feet weren’t any good, but I had fun (also I have turned it into an excuse to make another cartoon 😉)

ballet monkeys

(I can safely say this is an accurate portrayal of how dainty I am IRL)

Anyhoo, I did read quite a lot buuuut I don’t feel passionate enough to review a number of them. So, *shrugs apish shoulders* only gonna just talk about a handful…

summer that melted everything

Summer that Melted Everything- I suppose this isn’t much of a hot take, but this book has the most beautiful writing. Somehow it comes across as natural, whilst also creating extraordinary imagery and transporting the reader beyond the bounds of this world. We are taken to another time and place, situated in a surreal landscape where anything is possible, and forced to reconcile ourselves with very real issues. I don’t know if this is a spoiler, but it’s not about the devil at all, it’s an exploration of the Aids crisis. And with that come some very interesting thoughts about the human psyche. Admittedly, there’s not much in the way of plot and an awful lot of this is designed to deliver the author’s opinion… and yet I was okay with that. It reminded me of Steinbeck. Sure, the author is opinionated, but when you can write like this, who cares? Now, I won’t suggest that all the opinions in the book are the author’s (obviously) but some of the views can’t be substantiated- it took the concept of sympathy for the devil too far for me when defending the indefensible- I just don’t see “have you ever lost control” as much of an argument. I do think, however, that it’s important to look into the heart of evil, if only so we know what not to do. And this was certainly a fascinating vehicle to take us on that journey. The story simmers from beginning to end, finally releasing in a cool torrent that takes the edge off. I’d say there are not many writers of this calibre in this generation, but really there aren’t many in any generation.

Rating: 4/5 bananas


astonishing colour of after

Astonishing Colour of After- whether you like this book will come down to how purple you can take your purple prose. Cos I shouldn’t even say “purple prose” for this- it’s more like a lilac-lavender-infusion of imagery. For me, not all the images worked, but when they did it was most definitely *astonishing*. When the language landed, it was exquisite. It allowed the story to soar above expectations. It nested in a family tree woven with lovely moments and messages. They were stitched together in a complex tapestry, a true work of art, which superseded nature in its beauty. I particularly loved the idea of being “changed by a ghost”, how the theme of memory was handled and the way this tied into culture. Having said that, there were times when it was a little overwhelming and clouded the simpler intentions of the narrative. And some of the plot wavered with superfluous narrative constructs- for my part, I’m beginning to tire of the “patriarchal/oppressive figure doesn’t want me doing art” trope- it’s a little tiresome and overdone (though I don’t doubt such ignorant people exist, I just wish protagonists would swiftly put forward a coherent argument against the view that *you can only succeed in the sciences*, rather than having a book-long unnecessary conflict with their otherwise reasonable parents). Personal opinions on that aside, this was a layered contemporary that deals with grief in a unique way and is well worth the read!

Rating: 4/5 bananas


lock every door

Lock Every Door– this book unlocked a primordial fear of powerful creeps. I loved the story within the story aspect (I nearly always do 😉); I appreciated the unique (to me) setting. I raced through this rather gothic book as if I was genuinely trapped inside the Bartholomew. Now, I will say that I guessed the twist in chapter 1. In fact, I figured out the second twist midway and got every plot beat down before I got to it in the narrative. I can’t tell you why, for fear of ruining the entire plot, but it’s signposted and if you’ve read other books with a similar twist, you’ll get it too. Also, highlight for minor spoilers ahead, the main character is not the sharpest knife in the drawer- she was trusting to the point of absurdity, she let the obviously dodgy guy know she was suspicious and didn’t RUN when the alarm bells in her brain were already going off. Although I have the benefit of having read more than one book in my life- presumably if she was into modern thrillers to know that it’s always the privileged white dude these days 😉 If she’d had that knowledge, there’d have been no plot. Having said all that, I can’t fault the execution and have to congratulate Sager on successfully stealing a night’s sleep from me 😉

Rating: 4/5 bananas



Milkman– oh the mixed feelings! I appreciated much of the themes and subject matter. The setting was particularly well done: the judgemental, closed community had a suffocating edge to it, the backdrop for the gossip gave the story a true feel of danger lurking, and the town’s inhabitants felt real. It definitely made me feel like I was in the thick of the Troubles. I was glad to have read this after having made my trip “over the water this year”. In spite of this strong sense of time and place, however, I can only give it credit for reminding me of a history worth caring about, rather than inspiring me to care in its own right. I was initially also taken by the writing style- I liked that it wasn’t quite literal and the ambiguity of using identifiers instead of names gave it a clever (and somewhat unsettling) lilt. Yet, as much as the writing style was distinctive, it also bogged down a lot of the telling. Much of the narrative came across as too convoluted and dense. Ultimately, it didn’t blow me away, but it’s not a bad book by any stretch of the imagination and it’s certainly pushing boundaries with the way it was told.

Rating: 3/5 bananas


gentleman's guide to vice and virtue

Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue– well this is a bananas books- in some good ways and some not so good ways! Unpopular opinion time: this contemporary take on the Grand Tour is both fun and incredibly silly. While the romance is sensational, the rest is pretty much shocking. Granted all of this was given away in the marketing, but this book is scandalous by 18th century standards… in that I couldn’t buy that this was supposed to actually be the 18th century?! Kudos to the author for doing her research and creating an elaborate backdrop for her story, but this pantomime impression divided the stage into villainous representations of history, versus some 21st century ideals in fancy dress. And, as much as the writing occasionally made me chuckle, too often it had me laughing for the wrong reasons (apparently certain biological functions cure women of squeamishness guys 😉). Then there were the (*ahem* these guys totally didn’t step out of the 21st century) heroes. Monty is simultaneously foppishly adorable and entirely unlikeable. Felicity is so acerbic that there’s no chance of me reading the sequel in which she stars. And Percy was thankfully more than his laundry list of identifiers- although perhaps too idealised to feel real. There’s an ongoing joke about the boys being clueless and seriously THEY’RE FRICKIN CLUELESS (I envisaged them as modern-day trust fund babies… which didn’t help me make sense of the fact they’re still breathing by the end of the book). I also didn’t feel like they got proper character growth- rather we were dealt far-too-frequent “teachable moments” instead because *18th CENTURY IDEAS ARE BAD* (who’d have thunk it)- alas this isn’t a substitute since I was just as irked by their personalities at the end as the beginning (le sigh). Regardless, the plot did plod along reasonably well and that romance was ridiculously good:

Rating: 3/5 bananas


Oof that last review got a little longer than I intended… Anyhoo, have you read any of these? What did you think of them? Or do you plan to pick any of them up? Let me know in the comments!

I am completely obsessed with You…

youThe book and TV show… why what did you think I meant? 😉 Kepnes infamous story about social media stalking in the modern age certainly grabbed my attention and now I’d like to share it with *you*. So, what can you expect from this book about a New York love affair gone very, very wrong?

Immediately, you will be struck by the unreliable narrator. Combining a biting wit with an exceptional use of second person pov, you will find the execution of this novel is top notch. This unique style allows for stand out characterisation and a story that captivates and horrifies in equal measure. Now, you might have seen a fair amount of criticism for the crassness and vulgar language… to which I say: what do you expect? Yes, a stalker and dangerous individual is less than polite and uses violent means to get his way. To me, anything else would be a dishonest representation of reality. Naturally, you will agree that it is unnerving to be this up close and personal to evil- but that is what really works about this book (admittedly the show has a different take… more on that later).

Another criticism you might have is that the characters are all pretentious a-holes. Which is true- but given that they’re viewed through the lens of a psycho stalker, you might be inclined to let them off the hook. Again, you will find this an ingenious way of letting you inside his twisted mind. Every portrayal he shows you will be warped beyond recognition and every barb he directs at others can be thrown back at him.

Either way, you will discover there’s something enigmatic about the distinctive writing. This voicey book gives you more characterisation than a thousand thrillers combined. You will come to see it as more of a character study than a typical story.

Most importantly, you will be compelled to the finish line as if someone is chasing you down a dark alleyway. Truth be told, you may find the plot fairly predictable- but that’s because when you’re trapped in a terrifying place with no way out, there really is only one way it can go down. All the bodies littered throughout make the ending inevitable. So if you are like me and you like *BIG* twist thrillers, you might not end up giving it 5*. But that’s okay, because you know it’s a great book regardless. And you may decide that, while you’re not sure you need a series of books in this vein, you’re still invested enough to check out the Netflix adaptation…

Okay, I’m gonna stop with the second person because you get the idea 😉 Also the voice is used slightly differently in the TV show. In fact, there were a number of distinctions between the book and the show: the timeline, the characters and even the relationship have all shifted. Most importantly, the more lovey dovey romance makes the show more of a deconstruction of rom coms than the danger of Social Media. While still present, the idea of stalking someone online is made light of at times when (for reasons I can’t fathom) Stalker Joe tells her he’s been following her?! Aside from the illogical tint this gives the story, I wasn’t entirely sure what to make of this take. I think that the ideas it was presenting, while not entirely in line with the book, were still valid critiques on society. Plus, on the more positive side, this did flesh out some aspects better.

Characters who weren’t given a proper voice in the book (understandably) did finally get their chance to speak for themselves. I liked that while Peaches made more sense as a character, the tv version didn’t remove her shades of grey. I also loved Blythe and Ethan- as different as the latter was to the book counterpart. Most significantly, we actually got her perspective. And it’s good- it’s very good. She gets to be a far more well-rounded character and her life is given importance its so lacking in the book- which makes the impact of the narrative greater still. I liked that they even had her talk to herself in the second person- it was a nice touch.

Having said that, the show’s desire to fill in some aspects meant that the things Joe does make less sense sometimes. There was more of an attempt to make him likeable and misdirect the viewer into thinking he’s not an entirely terrible person. For instance, he genuinely cares about Paco, which felt strangely out of character for me as someone who’d read the book (and was the first major indicator that the book and show were going to be different entities). Again, I wasn’t quite convinced whether I liked that he was more sympathetic. On the one hand, it made him less predatory… but on the other there was more of an unnerving sense that this could really happen to anyone. It didn’t hurt, either, that unlike the book closing off its ending, the show had a chilling end that left me wanting more.

Ultimately, I found the show just a bingeable as the book was a page turner. Sure, they were different, but this didn’t impact the quality. I gave both the book and show:

Rating: 4/5 bananas


So have you read or watched this? Do you plan to? Let me know in the comments!