Monday, 9 February 2015

Book Review: Lost and Found

Lost and Found by Brooke Davis 

3 stars

Recommend: Exceptional prose, terrible story - I'd recommend the author.

I couldn't find a short blurb for this, just loads and loads of praise where a blurb should be. Instead I'll do my best to shorten the long blurb:

Millie Bird is a seven-year-old girl whose mum leaves her alone in a department store, and doesn’t come back.

Karl the Touch Typist is eighty-seven years old and once typed love letters with his fingers on to his wife’s skin. He escapes from a nursing home, knowing that somehow he must find a way for life to begin again.

Agatha Pantha is an eighty-two-year-old woman who yells at passers-by and maintains a strict daily schedule, until she spies a little girl across the street.

Together, Millie, Agatha and Karl set out to find Millie’s mum. Along the way, they will discover that the young can be wise, that old age is not the same as death, and that breaking the rules once in a while might just be the key to a happy life.


~*~

At the beginning I loved it; at the end I was miffed. Review done.

Okay...

I usually stick to young adult/new adult novels, but the opportunity arose and I took it. How could I refuse a free review copy of a novel so plastered in praise?

This book has multiple brilliant lines which are richly spread throughout, a subtle prose laced with dramatic irony and humour. There was always something for me to mentally highlight, and I would definitely read another book by this fantastic author – unless her stories are structured in the same way.

Half-way through, I felt like the story needed to come together a bit more. That didn’t happen.

The characters were fascinating and complex at first, but soon became odd. The writing was funny in places, but the plot just felt silly. I was originally drawn in by a young girl wanting to find her mum, but the characters' priorities seemed to shift until I don’t know what the book was about. Death? Circumstantial love? I’m not sure.

Millie is seven. She’s fascinated with death in a way I felt was honest and curious, but could also be construed as morbid. Her dad has died and her mum has abandoned her, but she doesn’t give up on finding her mother. Anywhere she can, she writes, ‘IN HERE MUM’. It’s heartbreaking. I love a good story about the young trying to understand complex situations. I felt close to tears at times.

Karl is another character I loved. He came across as a young boy trapped in an elderly body. I didn’t understand his typing thing (for lack of a better word), but I loved his spirit. He wants to cause mischief and be a hero!

Unfortunately he harbours a mannequin named Manny, which seemed to prompt every single person from then on out to accuse him of dragging around a sex doll. It seems the strangers in this book are both blunt and horny. I started to wish Karl would chuck Manny out the window and become that young-spirited and quite funny character that I really did grow to love.

Lastly, Agatha Pantha – a name I won’t forget. I’ve heard that anger is a secondary emotion, and in this case I felt Agatha’s pain, regret, and fear to change or to live her life, all though her anger. She’s the crazy old lady that the neighbours are scared of (you know the one) but still has a heart and a bit of life left in her. She just needed something unusual to happen to shake up her life. I found her odd but intriguing, at least at first, anyway.

It was a good set up, but nothing happened in the second half to make me feel like it was a good read. In fact, this book was mostly a build up to a bit of a flop. Amidst Millie’s random poems that I didn’t understand, and after a rather unrealistic bus scene, I lost my love for this novel. Or was it when Agatha randomly said something bizarre, just so she could have a pointless spin off adventure that ended predictably so I don’t know why we had to go through it? I think it was before that though, where a group of young boys decided to beat up the elderly without a real motive... I started to disconnect.

The whole time, the writing was still fantastic, mesmerizing, and the type of lines that stick with you long after the final page. The author obviously had other plans for this novel, a different message to leave us with than the one I hoped, and it just didn’t hit the right note with me.

But the ending... What a naff way to round up 300 pages.

The ending didn’t answer any of the questions the book so powerfully asked, despite them being the main reason I was still reading. As for the characters, we have no idea what happened to them other than everybody dies in life eventually. Well, I know that. To be honest, I don’t need to be reminded. I felt the ending was as good as if the first Harry Potter book finished with Neville Longbottom persuading Harry not to go find the philosopher stone... followed by a quick note to say he died 50 or so years later.

I wasn’t satisfied. In fact, I was very disappointed. Now I have new questions. Did the author go over her recommended word count? Did she struggle to think up an ending in time? Or did she get bored? The story may be about the journey, not the destination, but did that really mean we could drop the destination entirely? For me, it was one of the worst endings I’ve ever read, especially for a book written so well.

I received a review copy for a group read and I’m grateful for the opportunity. Based on the other comments, I think I enjoyed it the most which isn’t a good sign. I fell in love with it at first, but I lost the plot and never found it again.