I haven’t felt a lot like writing lately. Last year seemed to get away from me and this year is already a quarter over it’s all been a rush. And nobody really wants to hear about how crappy someone else’s work is or the sleep deprivation of a parent with a kid under two. So there’s been no real reason to write either.
But then last night I finished a book that I’m not sure whether I want to rant or rave about.
Sometime last year on Instagram some publisher asked which cover people liked best for a new book coming out in 2016. Well, this is that book and this is the cover I picked. When I saw it in the library I figured I may as well read it.
The premise is fairly simple and cliche. Five kids forced together by adults to make the school yearbook. The Breakfast Club but without the 80’s styling. And with an Australian context.
Honestly, it’s a pretty good book. Told from the five different perspectives and close enough to my own experience (well, I was a teenager once who sat the HSC and I’ve been to Strathfield) that the familiarity of the story was endearing. It’s not a tear jerker, but each character is well rounded, more than your cut out high school stereotype, and you care about them and their stories because they seem so real and so like your own. But maybe not quite enough.
The problem is that the ending is limp. There is this huge crescendo that seems to fall abruptly silent when so much more could have been done or said to actually make the message worthwhile. What gets me the most is that there is no justice. I guess that’s a lot like the real world but what hope is there for kids going through similar problems when they can’t even be resolved in a fantasy world? Isn’t that the point of literature! To hold a mirror up to society and say –
Take a look at yourselves world. Is this how you really want things to go down?
That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the book. It’s just that I was really disappointed the author didn’t take a stand. It didn’t have to be cheesy and all fable moralistic like, but it shouldn’t have let the world get away with what it did.
As always I’m not reading to be reminded of what a horrible place the world is. And yes, I know realistic fiction is supposed to reflect the world as it is today. But I already know humans are sucky and the Internet is a giant beast untameable and insatiable. And I know that it probably can’t be fixed in the real world, short of a mass brainwash if the entire human population. So why can’t it be fixed in book world?
Is that too much to ask?