AION’s resident book reviewer A Novel Page has read plenty this month, and here’s what she thinks of four of them. Follow ANovelPage on insta.
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
Long story short: Follow the lives of four friends as they navigate adulthood in NYC.
I’ve had to take a few days to process before I wrote this review, and it’s confirmed a few things for me…
Firstly, this is the best novel that I have ever read in my entire life. Secondly, this is something that transcends the pages as the characters, the plot and the settings will stay with me forever.
I didn’t finish A Little Life, A Little Life finished me.
I genuinely feel like I am a different person after reading this – my mindset has just altered. If that doesn’t show you just how powerful this novel is, then I don’t know what will.
If I’m perfectly honest, I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy this. The first 200 pages didn’t capture my imagination, and I kept getting confused with all the characters. I had to write a notes page with defining characteristics of each character to keep track!
Once I settled into the story, I was captivated. Despite it being a hefty 720-pages, it wasn’t long enough – I needed it to be longer!
This is the first book that has ever made me cry. I’m not a crier so this is a big deal! I was genuinely so broken after reading this, and I’m still not ok now!
There’s no other way for me to describe this book other than ‘perfect’. The prose was hypnotising, harrowing and honest.
I felt as though I knew the characters. I felt as though I was experiencing the same events, the same conversations and the same emotions that Jude, Malcolm, JB and Willem felt. To do that with one character is hard enough, let alone four. Yanagihara is a genius.
It’s an incredibly graphic novel, and I would recommend being in a good place before you start this. The plot is ruthlessly depressing.
It’s a very accurate yet difficult representation of life, and one that I am glad I read. It’s a modern day classic.
There’s so much I want to say, but there’s a caption limit! It’s been a difficult review to write.
I don’t know whether I’ll be able to re-read this anytime soon, but I don’t have to. It’s in my top two all-time favourite books, and there’s no way I coudn’t give it a 10/10.
A Novel page rates this book 10/10
The Arctic Curry Club by Dani Redd
Long story short: Maya agrees to accompany her boyfriend to the Arctic for his research expedition. But what will she do?
Thank you so much @avonbooksuk for a proof of this!
Let me be honest, I did not think that I would enjoy this book as much as I did…because I absolutely loved it!
All of my friends know that I hate going to Indian restaurants/takeaways because nothing will ever beat my mum’s cooking. (My friends will also vouch for this) However, I might make an exception for Maya’s fusion restaurant.
Food is a big thing in Punjabi culture, so I had the highest of expectations reading this… it met them and more!
There is a lot of depth to this novel which you wouldn’t expect from the cover, nor the blurb. It’s slightly misleading! The exploration of anxiety was interestingly explored and I was so proud to see Maya grow throughout.
It took me a while to get into the plot and the characters, but I couldn’t let go of them once I did. We love Maya! Such heartwarming characters for such a heartwarming novel (except Ryan… we hate him)!
The location of the Arctic interwoven with elements of India was just wonderful and showed sheer brilliance. The hungry polar bear made me laugh so much!
The prose was addictive – I just didn’t want it to end. Because there is a lot going on, the ending felt a little rushed… that’s my only criticism though!
It’s a fantastic debut novel by Redd, and I truly cannot wait to see what else she has in store.
It goes without saying that this is a must-read of the winter season. Just make sure you’re not reading it on an empty stomach!
Here’s a question that I’m intrigued to know: what is your favourite Indian food? Mine would have to be my mum’s lamb curry or a papdi chaat.
A Novel page rates this book 8/10
N.B.: I was kindly gifted this book in exchange for an honest review.
Death Row by Michelle Lyons
Long story short: Michelle Lyons has witnessed almost 300 executions while working on death row.
Oh my god, this was such an insightful and interesting read! I’m very anti-death penalty in all circumstances, so when I saw @harrietslibrary reading this, I had to buy it.
This is a very rare book in that not many people will have had any of the experiences that Michelle Lyons has had. That’s why I think it is a very necessary read .
It is a very sensitive and topical subject matter, but it was handled very honestly by Lyons. It does get a little bit self-opinionated at points and, stylistically, it is a little bit all over the place.
It presented both sides of the argument. Even though I’m staunchly opposed, I did find it very enlightening to hear the pro-side. However, I found it quite frustrating and tough to read at points… just because of how barbaric it is.
The addition of letters/poems by former prisoners who were executed on death row was slightly harrowing. I don’t get how you can justify it, especially when you’ve had that intimate proximity with the individuals? It just confirmed my position, if nothing else!
I don’t want to say I loved it because that doesn’t seem right, but it is utterly fascinating. I definitely think it is a must-read if you’re interested in this topic though!
A Novel page rates this book 8/10
It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
Long story short: Lily has moved to Boston where she encounters Ryle. As they embark on a relationship, a figure from Lily’s past threatens its very existence.
It took me less than three hours to start and finish this novel – it didn’t feel like I was reading at all. I loved it!
I need to start with the prose: it was so easy and effortless to read. Within the first few pages, I was fully immersed within the novel – I didn’t move from my seat until I had finished it. I cannot express how well this is written.
I loved the structure! The interwoven diary entries were so impactful, and the way in which it all tied together at the end was perfect – even down to the title!
The stand out for me was the female relationships; whether that be between Lily and Alisa or with Lily and her mum! The characterisation had such depth and vividity that is rare to do in 360 pages.
It does cover some very difficult and sensitive themes. The exploration of friendship, domestic violence, suicide, homelessness, and many more, was so eloquently and effectively done.
The author’s note at the end was such a humbling and honest piece of writing. I really appreciated Hoover’s vulnerability in allowing us, as readers, to understand why she had written this in the way that she had.
Understandably, it isn’t a ‘happy’ book, but I didn’t find it overwhelmingly sad. There were definitely moments where my heart broke for the characters and I did feel sad, but the ending left me feeling optimistic and satisfied.
It goes without saying that I would definitely recommend reading this (if you haven’t already)! I was blown away by how profound and beautiful this story was. Absolutely phenomenal.
A part of me hates myself for waiting this long to read my first @colleenhoover novel, but I’m excited to read many more. Which others would you recommend?
A Novel page rates this book 9/10