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My thoughts on 'The Wall' - by Mrs Chillingworth
The Wall: There were parts of this I really liked but equally parts that didn't hold my interest. I liked the premise, which is very evocative of many conflicts and issues that are still going on in the world and despite being narrated from the point of view of a 13 year old boy, he was an engaging character who you did feel for. I guess it wasn't just consistently interesting enough for me and I wish there was more of an explanation as to the reasons behind the conflict and the separation of the people inside and outside of the wall. I read a lot of apocalyptic/dystopian fiction and I guess, as this had elements of those genres, I was hoping for an interesting explanation as to the conflict, but never received one. Therefore I found it hard to engage with the conflict and those it affected, which is the main premise of the novel. It has a great, if not wholly satisfying, ending though. I'll be interested to hear other people#s thoughts on it.
Posted on: 28 Apr 2014

My thoughts on 'The Bunker Diary' - by Mrs Chillingworth
The Bunker Diary: I consider myself, as a lover of all things horrific and disturbing when it comes to books, to have quite a strong tolerance for nastiness. However, The Bunker Diary is a book that really shocked me and made me feel very ill at points. My initial impression after reading it was wondering how on earth it can be classified as a Young Adult book? I have read many adult horror books that do not come close to being so disturbing. The Bunker Diary is pretty much bleak from start to finish and there is a strange kind of beauty in that. I was having a conversation recently with a student who hated the book on the grounds that it doesn't really say anything or comment on anything larger than he story itself. In some ways this is true and I found myself wondering whether this book is good in the way shock art is considered good - is has a large impact due to the shock factor but can have little else to say. So this got me thinking (one of the reasons why I love the Carnegie and discussing the books with students, their ideas are always great) about whether this book had anything else to say. The world is, in manyway, pretty much unrelentingly grim. At every moment in time somewhere on the planet awful things are happening to good people for no rhyme or reason. Religion attempts to justify this, but most of us remain mystified and just ignore it as best we can. But The Bunker Diary doesn't ignore this issue, it makes you confront it and actually shows us that things don;t always work out, there isn't always a grand resuce and a happy ending. Sometimes things end badly and it's not fair or right, it's just how it is. When I think of it that way then I can see why The Bunker Diary won the SSBA award and why it has been nominated again for this award.
Posted on: 28 Apr 2014

My thoughts on 'Blood Family' - by Mrs Chillingworth
Blood Family: I do not like this book beyond the first few pages. The subject matter is emotive and dark, so i thought I would like it on some level, but it just irritated me too much to be able to get much enjoyment out of it. For me to engage with a book I have to be able to empathize with and engage with the character. I don't always have to like them, but I have to understand them. This is the books biggest failure for me; despite what he's been through I didn't like the character and I didn't understand the motivation for his actions. This wasn't helped by the fact that the perspective jumps from the main character to all of the secondary characters, for little purpose as far as I'm concerned, as this added nothing to the story apart from ensuring you didn't engage with any of the characters. Maybe others will feel differently, but if this wasn't part of the book award I wouldn't have bothered finishing it, which is highly unusual for me.
Posted on: 28 Apr 2014

Thoughts on the books read so far: All the Truth That's in Me and The Bunker Diary - by Mrs Chillingworth
I have been trying really hard to not read my own books and focus on reading the eight shortlisted books, I did really well and managed a string of reading four of them before I cracked and read another vampire book... So far I have mixed feelings about the books - a few I loved, one I hated and one I have mixed feelings about. All the Truth That's In Me: I LOVED this book. It ticked a lot of boxes for me: engaging main character who is an under-dog, historical, gritty and disturbing, emotional and through provoking. It is also written in the second person, the whole book is addressed to the boy she has loved since she was a child. Although romance is a part of this book, it is interwoven so seamlessly into the narrative that this wasn't a problem for the the cynic in me who tends to roll her eyes at romance. The write's use of language is also incredibly lyrical and beautiful. It really is a joy to read if you love language. What is also nice is that it has an emotionally satisfying ending, where so many of the books do not!
Posted on: 28 Apr 2014