How I Live Now boasted a concept right up my alley: in the not-so-distant-future, England has been attacked by an unnamed enemy and 15-year-old American Daisy is in the wrong place at the wrong time. She's been sent to stay with her cousins and aunt at their country home by her absentee father and her new pregnant stepmother. Of course, everything quickly goes horribly awry as her politician Aunt Penn is detained away from the home by the fighting and the kids are left to fend for themselves in the middle of a war-torn nation.
It's a good foundation, but I had some problems with How I Live Now. First of all, there's Daisy. As a narrator, she actually embodies everything that frustrates me about today's teenagers. The book is written in her voice, meaning there are lots of really long sentences without proper punctuation, Totally Unnecessary Capitalizations for Emphasis and a view of the action and world events filtered through the observations of a self-centered teenager. I almost quit reading the book because her voice annoyed me so much.
Another thing that may raise the hackles of some readers is Daisy's relationship with her 14-year-old cousin, Edmond. As in, their romantic relationship. I understand that in England and many other countries, marrying your first cousin isn't illegal or frowned upon, but I had a hard time stomaching their relationship. It was very romantic and I understand why they came together under the extraordinary circumstances they were facing, but I couldn't get over the fact that these two teenage lovebirds were first cousins. And having sex. Yick.
The book had a few other issues -- there are a few things the author hints at and never explores, and I would have liked more information abou the war. It provides a good effect though -- the reader doesn't know any more about what is going on than the teenagers do.
The ending is unsatisfying, but the book is worth a read. Rosoff has created an intriguing dystopian view, and despite my frustrations with her heroine, I enjoyed the book as a one-time read.
The main character has a very strong voice. The premise is interesting, without being too outre. The love story is touching without being sacharine. Overall an excellent YA book. Highly recommended.
This is supposedly a teen book, but it is a very nice read for adults, too. Very contemporary.