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afterwhat

How I Live Now - Meg Rosoff I have no idea what to say about this book. I can't even write my usual half-assed plot description because it's so, I don't even know.

Daisy is 15, and she's been shipped off to England to live with her aunt and four cousins. They live in the country, on a recreational farm. And there's an Enemy, and there's a War, and while Daisy's aunt is visiting Oslo, the Enemy invades and takes control of England; the borders are closed, and Aunt Penn can't make it back.

At first, it's a game. It's fun. Daisy and her cousins, the oldest of whom is 16, all sort of enjoy being entirely unsupervised. The war hasn't touched them, yet, not the way it apparently has the cities. And I cannot write anymore about it without resorting to spoilers, so here we go. In your internets, spoiling your books.

The enemy is apparently a terrorist group, because everyone seems to know that the occupation is fleeting, that the enemy will be defeated swiftly and without too much trouble, but it seems to be drawn out because the actual national powers are trying to limit civillian casualties. Eventually, the army--which isn't the army, because the army was elsewhere while the enemy was moving in and cutting off transportation and communication lines, but is the British equivalent of the National Guard--comes and takes over the farm, which they call sequestering and I suppose we'd call "quartering of troops."

And they ship the children off, boys in one direction, girls in another.

Oh, wait, did I mention that all of Daisy's cousins are apparently sort of telepathic? Especially Edmond, who is 14, and with whom Daisy begins a RAGING ALL-CONSUMING VERY MUCH SEXUAL LOVE AFFAIR as soon as Aunt Penn is gone? I did the all-caps thing, because in retrospect, hey, it's shocking an yucky, but. While I was reading it? Not so much.

Everything's sort of bizarro-world as soon as you open the book, so that particular turn of events isn't--it doesn't seem out of place. It's not unexpected. And it's sort of...there's a thing you can do in non-historical books/movies/whatever to make inappropriate relationships less inappropriate, which is, you make everything horrible. And when everything's horrible, a little thing like incest doesn't seem so horrible, because...shouldn't these characters be able to take comfort where they find it? Why yes, yes I did read Flowers in the Attic when I was much, much too young to do so. How'd ya guess?

Well, anyway. Very well done, actually. The writing style, which was run-on-sentences and no quotation marks, put me off a bit at first, but the first 3/4 of the book are very stream of consciousness, and you get sucked right in. And actually, that stream of consciousness was, I think, necessary, because if you weren't right there in Daisy's head, hello, ridiculousness and trouble with suspending that good ol' disbelief.

I didn't actually like it, though. It was in no way enjoyable to read, not even in the way that you want to keep reading to find out what happens. It gets three stars anyway, because I don't even have to explain my rating system to myself, and because, if this is the book Ms. Rosoff had to write, it couldn't possibly have been written any better.