If I had one word for this selection of short stories, it would be "clever". It's always hard to rate a collection, and while there were some 5-star stories in here (I particularly liked Cream Reaper and The One Dimensional Yellow Man) there were also some 2-star stories that didn't hold my interest or leave an impact. But overall, witty social commentary, weird premises and unique (or sometimes deliberately NOT unique!) characters are Koh's strengths. None of these were edge-of-your-seat fast paced stories, but then, I don't think any tried to be either. They were smart, sometimes funny. A decent book to pick up and put down in between novels.
It was nice to be back in a familiar world with familiar characters, and I was engaged reasonably quickly. The ending seemed abrupt, however, and in the end the story left me dissatisfied because it was really just a single close call with a little rushed backstory and a bit of a deus ex machina solution. My edition had a 12pg sample of another story at the end, so I didn't actually realise I had finished the story until I got past the random cruise timetable part (which I didn't get... I'm sure there's a reason to it but I'm not all that motivated to work out what it is). This was very much an "ok, but nothing amazing" story for me and I'm glad I didn't pay the full list price on the back given how short it is!
Lucy’s looking for a mysterious graffiti artist called Shadow, and Ed, the boy whose nose she broke on their only date, is taking her around the city in search of him. It’s not a spoiler to say that Ed and Shadow are one and the same, we learn that in chapter 2. So this was always going to be a story working towards the expected ending, and the strength or failure of it would depend on the characterisation and language used to get there. Fortunately, Crowley did not disappoint in that regard. I found Lucy irritating at times, but very real; Ed was a guy I could fall for myself if I was 17, and the supporting cast were all well-fleshed out and believable. The passion for art leapt off the page and I love books where I learn something new as I’m reading. This wasn’t the kind of book I’d stay up all night to finish, but it was a solid 4 stars.
9 years ago, Tash saw her imaginary friend lead another child away from a carnival. After the embarrassment of the police investigation and many years of therapy, Tash has come to accept that Sparrow isn't real - so when she starts to see him again, she doesn't know who to trust, or if she can even trust herself. The trouble with following so many Oz YA writers and bloggers is that I see MANY rave reviews of new releases & it’s a lot of hype to live up to. I was wary going into this, both of the premise and the first couple of chapters, but it had me hooked quickly and in the end the execution was worthy of all the praise. A smashing debut that kept me guessing the whole way through. Definitely my favourite read of the month and I can’t wait to read Epstein’s next book.
It must be hard to be Nicola Moriarty and to be endlessly compared to very successful elder siblings. The last book of hers that I read was Free Falling & I was underwhelmed. But I’m glad I gave her another shot because this was a very good book. Realistic, with issues I can recognise in the families around me (& my own!) and messy, complicated friendships. There were parts that reached a bit too far for me, and I didn’t understand the purpose of the random priest character/confessional sections, but overall I enjoyed it and will happily reach for more Nicola Moriarty when I’m in the mood to break away from YA a little.