I’ve had this book sat in my NetGalley account for a while now and, as I’m trying to get better at sending my feedback, I decided it was finally time to read it. This was one of those books that sounded like a really interesting read. I don’t tend to read much fantasy these days and I tend to particularly avoid fantasy for younger readers. It’s the kind of genre that can be done so well but, on the flip side, just be turned into a horrible stereotype of things gone before. There is a fine line between creating a brilliant fantasy world and just shoving a load of random letters together to get a magical sounding city name. But, despite my misgivings, I’m always willing to give the genre a chance and this one sounded interesting.
It seems appropriate to start my review about this YA novel discussing prejudices by talking about my own. I openly admit to you all here that I’m prejudiced against YA fiction. I’ve always been disappointed by the simplistic narratives and underwhelming writing on offer in so many popular YA books. I know there are some really good ones out there but the majority are just so obvious, repetitive and dull. I’ve always found it a little hard to accept that so many adults these days are reading Young Adult fiction. I think YA books are great… as long as they’re read by Young Adults. The thing is, a lot of the people who read YA these days aren’t of that demographic. They’re adults. And maybe it’s because they don’t have the time or energy for something more advanced or maybe they just don’t see the appeal of other fiction? I don’t know but I find something a little bit sad about anyone over the age of 20 who reads only or primarily YA fiction. I just haven’t enjoyed very many YA books that I’ve read in recent years. It’s all so immature and simplistic. The use of language just isn’t on par to anything I’d normally read. Still, every so often there comes along a book that I can’t ignore. This was one of those books.
As I started typing this last night I’d literally just finished watching the second season of the Netflix original show 13 Reasons Why. The first series was based on the popular YA novel by Jay Asher. It showed us the aftermath of a teenage girls suicide and the discover of thirteen tapes she recorded before she died. On them, Hannah outlined all of the reasons she had for killing herself and demanded that they be passed between all of the people mentioned on the tapes. I wasn’t a fan of the first season but mostly because i thought it was just badly made. It was way too long and self-indulgent. On top of that, I think it failed to do what it was trying to. The message it was trying to tell got lost because it was too quick to make entertainment out of sexual assault and suicide. There were far too many depictions of rape on-screen especially considering the audience it was targeted for. It seemed more interested in making headlines than in actually helping people. But mostly it was just boring and bad. Everything was dragged out way too long. What it did have was a complete story. We had reached the end of Hannah’s story
As a book lover your requirements for reading change every time you pick up a new book. Sometimes you want to be challenged. Sometimes you want to be lazy. Sometimes you just need to be taken away from the world around you and forget about life’s worries. It all depends on a whole bunch of factor’s that might be affecting you as you stand in a bookshop/ browse online. However, there are times in your life when you come face-to-face with a book that you can neither justify nor walk away from. For me, that time was a few weeks ago and that book was this one. I was first attracted by the holographic cover. Was further pulled in by the hilariously simplistic yet superbly effective title Wizards and Robots. Finally, I was inescapably hooked as soon as I read that Will.I.Am was a co-author. Reader, I married it… ahem, I mean bought it. I am unapologetic to have picked up this book instantly without knowing anything about it and, also, for doing so expecting (nay hoping) for it to be shit.
Dear Postcards From No Man’s Land,
If Harry Potter turned me in a reader then you definitely turned me into an adult reader. And I’m not just saying that because you were the first literary sex scene I remember being exposed to. I mean, maybe it helped but… it’s not where I was going. I can’t remember how old I was when I read you but you were published in 1999. I was 11 at the time which definitely feels like too young an age to be reading you. Still, I was an avid reader at this point so it’s possible. I’m pretty sure I got you after studying about World War II in history and, even then, I was no doubt trying to be mature and a bit pretentious. I can’t properly remember, though.
I do have a vague memory of getting you but, as with most of my childhood memories, it’s entirely possible I’ve made it up to provide some context. There was a particular bookshop in a Scottish town, Gatehouse of Fleet, that we always used to stop in and look around. This bookshop is pure heaven. Stacks of bookshelves filled to bursting with piles and piles of additional books stacked next to them. You can barely turn around without potentially knocking something off. It’s fabulous. It never had the greatest selection of kids and young adult books but my twin sister and I always used to be able to find a sizeable haul when we were there. I believe one of those included you.
I’ll be honest with you now, since the first time I’ve never read you again. I’m not sure I would view you in the same way as an adult. But I’ve never been able to get away from you. I’ll never be able to forget that feeling of closing your cover for the final time. You were complex, full of historical facts, and an emotional roller coaster. It was a lot for my young mind to cope with. But I loved you. You haunted me in a great way. I wanted to read more of Aidan Chambers’ work and I tracked down as much as I could.
You weren’t the book that pushed me into reading but you were the one that got me thinking about the kind of books I was reading. I started wanting to read bigger and better books. I’d seen the kind of writing I’d been missing out on and wanted more. I felt completely changed by you and in a way that I hadn’t felt before. You taught me so much and opened my eyes to new experiences. You solidified my interest in history without me even realising. You opened my eyes to problems that I’d never encountered before. The narrative of a teenager coming to grips with his sexuality felt so new and mature to me at the time. I was naive when I started reading you. My eyes were more open thanks to you.
So, who cares if I can’t remember when I read you? Who cares I can’t retell the story of how or why you came into my life. The fact is, you did. And you made an impact that has lasted, under the surface, for the rest of my life. I’ve never forgotten the way you made me feel and how much you inspired me. I don’t know where I’d have gone as a reader if it hadn’t been for you.
Sometimes there only is, and no knowing