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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 18 October 2013
I'll start out by saying that I'm not normally a fan of authors messing with punctuation - dropping speech marks etc, so I was a bit wary about reading this and I was prepared to be highly irritated by it. However, this never happened. As soon as I started reading, I was drawn into Daisy's story and I could instantly see why the speech marks were dropped. In fact, it wouldn't have been so immediate and compelling had they been there. The only way I can describe it, is that reading How I Live Now was like being sat next to the narrator as they told you their story. The slightly breathless, tumbling narration was not the mark of a poor writer - far from it.

Meg Rosoff is clearly a hugely accomplished writer - her descriptions are vivid, engaging and compelling. The way the story built up - beginning with a magical English summer that took me back to my own childhood - was sublime. I don't think it matters here that we're not told much about Daisy's 'wicked stepmother', nor about the nuances of her eating disorder. It is enough that we engage with Daisy fully and wholeheartedly so that we are prepared to listen to what she wants to tell us (just as we would if we were listening to a friend). Daisy's had a past but it isn't that important - at least not once she becomes immersed in the world of her English cousins, embarks on her love affair with Edmond and is then, finally, plunged into the fallout from the war. No, the war isn't described in any detail. Again, this didn't matter - we knew as much as Daisy knew. We live through Daisy - she is our first and only source of information and, for that reason, I didn't find myself dissatisfied that I never knew exactly what the war was about.

Personally, I found this novel utterly beautiful and heart wrenching. I loved all the characters (because Daisy did) and I found myself sad to leave them. Four days after finishing this book, I'm still thinking about it - still wishing I was there with Daisy and her quirky, damaged family. As far as I'm concerned, that means a writer has done their job - and so much more. I will definitely be reading more of this writer's books.
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on 17 October 2013
This is as much a kids' book as is His Dark Materials, in my view: ie not hugely. Very funny at times, certainly in the first phase, but intensely absorbing for the most part, and ultimately very moving. A distinctly real account of what it might be like If Civilisation Broke Down in the face of militarily organised terrorism. And with especial reference to the recent IS attacks in Paris, a chillingly relevant scenario.
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on 30 November 2013
This book was a really good read it was very emotional but lovely at the same time, the only thing that could've been longer and better was the ending it was a good ending but it could've been better.
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on 18 March 2012
Meg Rosoff was recommended to me as I'd enjoyed Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur.

This was an interesting book, but not as good as Suzanne LaFleur's. And it was a bit, well, odd I think. Some of it was a bit bizarre - maybe poetic licence for a children's book you could say adventurous - parking at Heathrow as another reviewer mentioned. I was a bit puzzled as to when the book was set at first; had to keep in mind that Daisy had a mobile phone etc.

Towards the end, when Daisy wakes up in hospital I wondered whether she had actually imagined the adventure in England. After all, she was so miserable in the US with her Dad and the wicked step-mother.

Maybe "how I live now" is more a reflection on "how we live now". So used to email, mobile phones. Choosing not to eat - bordering on starvation (Daisy's choice to not eat) - when other people in the world simply don't have enough to eat. That bit struck a chord when Daisy reflected on Piper's skinniness which was due to a lack of available food rather than choosing not to eat.

Edmond's reaction to the war and what he'd seen - described at the end of the book - was reminiscent of reported stories from PTSD, particularly from WW1.

I shall read another book by Meg Rosoff, out of curiosity.
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on 6 October 2013
Planning a trip to London Film and Comic Con became more exciting when I heard that Malorie Blackman would be hosting a discussion panel with some YA authors. Meg Rosoff was one of the ones on the list so I knew I had to try one of her books.
I heard a lot about this book and the fact it was being released as a film so I requested it. My colleagues at work told me I would love it but I didn't really know much about it.
From the synopsis I expected an average YA book, bit of a love story with difficulties, but I was really surprised by what I got.
This book is actually centered around another war, what would happen if World War 3 broke out? This storyline hit me unexpectedly but totally worked.
The story is told by Daisy who is 15, she explains what is happening in her life and brings a raw realism to the situations around her.
This book has a very unique voice and the narrative is in a very different style to anything I have read before. It's written very much like you would think, a rush of thoughts and situations, fairly fast and occasionally jumbled. I worried it would annoy me when I started but I soon fell in love with it and was racing through the book.
There are no speech marks in this book, or very few at least, again that puzzled me at first but soon you just go with the flow and it kind of adds to Daisy's charm. Everything just works, it all falls into place and Daisy's 'voice' really comes through.
I found it very hard to put this book down and was blown away by everything, it's actually quite a dark and gritty book, with some scenes that may shock a bit what with dead bodies and violence but a really gripping read. Maybe not suitable for younger than 12 due to some of the scenes, but I would recommend it to Teen readers.
A story that will truly make you think and make you give your heart to Daisy. Everything that I thought I would dislike ended up making this book work. This would make for great discussions in book group.
I am now looking forward to seeing the film if I can get there.
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on 7 March 2011
Meg Rosoff's novel for young adults won the Guardian Children's Fiction Prize 2004. The novel is very much a crossover novel - for young adults and adults alike.

How I live now is the story of Daisy, a 15-year-old Manhattanite. She's a funny character and this comes across as we pick up her thoughts on her new stepmother and being flown out to England by her father because a new baby is on the way. She's by no means perfect...and that's what makes her so real. She feels insecure about the changes in her family back in the States, she barely eats and is given to being overly dramatic.

England turns out to be nothing like she expected, thanks to the eccentric lifestyle of her Aunt Penn, and her four cousins. From the moment they meet Daisy and her cousin Edmond forge a bond...one which becomes extremely complicated without any adult supervision. For a while the children live an idyllic life - weeks of carefree play, weeks of Daisy and Edmond becoming closer than first cousins should...especially first cousins who are both under the age of 16.

War breaks out and changes the world forever. Daisy is parted from Edmond as soldiers take over their home and the girls and boys are separated. Daisy ends up with her youngest cousin Piper. The journey we're taken on is that of the girls witnessing war atrocities, starving and struggling to hang onto hope. Not until the end do we get a glimpse of what Edmond's war experience was.
My only criticism was that the dramatic conclusion seemed a little too sudden, but given that I found the plot excellent and the writing beautiful I'd rate it 4.9999/5.0.
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on 3 May 2006
... Daisy is such a Great Character, and writes with such Wicked Teenage Humour, her use of Capital Letters reading to me as if she was doing that thing teenagers do with two fingers on each hand (no not that one) to illustrate a sentence in "quotes". I love the way she handles the transition from street-smart New York to eccentric English country life, and my heart ached for the way she was accepted into this new family with the sort of unquestioning love she had never experienced before.

Her relationship with Edmond is magical in its innocence, and the psychic connection between them gives her strength to survive the awful hardship of the years of war and separation that follow. The way in which the war unfolds is a terrifyingly bleak vision of the future, but very believable.

The suspense at the end is almost unbearable - will there be a happy ending or not? True to life, the answer isn't a straightforward one, but have the courage to read to the end and you won't be disappointed.
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VINE VOICEon 3 January 2017
With the current generation of teenagers being the most spoiled and entitled brats to have ever been excreted into existence (yes, I truly loathe children) I often wonder how they would have coped with life a mere 70 years ago when there were no cell phones, computers, internet, social media, or even much of television. It was only one generation ago that I was a teenager myself yet teen culture now is a million miles from what I experienced.

This novel deals with the journey of Elizabeth (or Daisy) as she is sent to live with her cousins in the English countryside just as war breaks out. Used to her pampered life in New York, Daisy suddenly fits in remarkably well and bonds with her new family, including her cousin Edmond who she falls in love with. The war seems to be a million miles away at first but it soon tears them apart and Daisy is whisked away by the army with her young cousin Piper. Over the course of weeks and months they sneak through a battle-ravaged country to return to the place they call home and restore some semblance of an ordinary life.

Told all in first person with hardly any real dialogue How I Live Now is less a harrowing account of war and more like the secret thoughts of a realistic, insecure teenage girl dealing as best as she can with impossible uncertainty. It's never pretentious, never preachy, and never feels unrealistic in any way. Half of it feels like a surreal, cozy dream while the other half is cold and shellshocked. Daisy's transition from comfort to desperation is believable and the inner strength she finds to cope with it keeps you turning the pages.

I highly recommend this novel to everyone who like a good read, there's a lot to study and draw from How I Live Now and it deserves to be regarded as a classic.
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on 9 January 2014
I was a little reluctant to start reading How I Live Now as I was convinced that at 18 years old, I had already passed the prime age for reading a novel such as this. I had listened to friends ranting and raving about this novel since I was around the age of eleven so I expected to find a really good novel, but one that perhaps I wouldn't be able to entirely relate to as I was too old. Fortunately, I was completely wrong and I greatly enjoyed the book.

How I Live Now is written from the first person perspective of Daisy, an American teenager forced to move to England by her new stepmother as there's a new baby on the way and the move is deemed what's 'best' for her. Thrust into an unknown world where she is surrounded by animals, nature and family as opposed to the cold city blocks of Manhattan, Daisy begins her new life in England. Whilst things seem to be going great for Daisy at first, war is brewing across the nation and her life gets turned upside down once again by its devastating effects.

Although this book is classified under 'teenage' fiction, I would highly recommend this to people of all ages. It is a touching story and the feistiness of Daisy, our protagonist, makes it easy to forget that she is only fifteen years old when these events take place. Daisy writes in a stream of consciousness style and there isn't a single line of reported speech in the entire book which takes a bit of getting used to. It's a little hard at first to figure out who's saying what and some sentences are so long that I feel like I'm running out of breath just reading them, but this is all part of the style. The writing is so naturalistic that I really feel like I'm in Daisy's head and her narrative is definitely what I would say the shining feature of this book is.

Something that I found incredibly confusing whilst reading the book was the time period in which it was set. Whilst it seemed fairly authentic in terms of its war setting there were references to Friday 13th (1980) and Lassie (1940) which made me question which war this book is set in. I firmly believed that this was set during WWII but having just looked the book up on wikipedia, it turns out it's set in a fictional third world war. This was not clear at all. As far as I can remember there weren't any references to the Internet or modern technology so there wasn't really any indication at all that the story is set in the twenty-first century. In retrospect, perhaps there were some clues when Daisy describes her old life in the States, but the majority of the scenes of this book could've been taken straight out of WWII England in my opinion.

The trailer for the film adaptation of How I Live Now, as well as the movie book cover will make you believe that a large chunk of this novel is about teenage romance, which it isn't really. There are a few elements of romance between Daisy and one of her cousins, which, now that I know this book is set in the 21st century, seem a little creepy. When I believed this book to be set in the 1940s, it seemed so much more normal for cousins to maybe fall in love, but in the century we're currently living in, it is a topic that would most almost certainly be considered inappropriate in a young adult novel such as this.

All in all, How I Live Now is a brilliantly written novel that isn't exactly filled with 'action', but it's a story you grow fond of and it touches your heart. When I finished reading it I was really quite happy with the story and thought it was an excellent book, but in retrospect, the fact that I didn't pick up that this novel is set in the 21st century makes me question it a little, as does the slightly incestuous relationship between Daisy and cousin. I shan't let these things tarnish my opinion of the story now but they certainly would've had a bigger impact on me if I had known about them prior to reading this novel. Perhaps it is the fact that I'm a slightly older reader that made these things stand out to me now, as I never heard any of my friends mention these things when they read this story years ago. So in conclusion, I would highly recommend this book to all readers as it is a fascinating portrayal of how a teenager's life is affected by war though, in my opinion, it is more likely to appeal to young-mid teens.
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on 20 April 2010
The story is about the 15 year-old Daisy. She was sent to Britain to her aunt and her cousins, because she wanted to get away from her stepmother. She has never met her cousins, but it seems the perfect summer. Daisy comes from a big city, New York. Now she lives at the countryside. She gets a new life, and she hasn't expected that. But suddenly everything changes. She falls in love with her own cousin. Edmond and Daisy develop a sexual relationship but is it true love? An unnamed enemy attacks London and war breaks out. Daisy, Edmond, Piper, Isaac and Obert don't care about it. They live in their own world, at the isolated farm. They have a lot of fun together, because there are no adults in the neighborhood. There are no rules. Miss Penn is a working mother and she's abroad for an international meeting. Because the threat of the war, the children have to be evacuated. The kids are separated, the girls to one location and the three boys to another. Will they each other ever see back?

I liked the story a lot, because there are many different topics in it: war, love, sexuality, responsibility, ... The relationship between Daisy and Edmond is very special. They are family, but the feelings that they have for each other are wonderful. I was most interested in their relationship, sometimes I forgot the rest of the story. I didn't really liked the writing-style of Meg Rosoff, sentences are too long. Daisy wants to tell so many things that she can't stop. You have to be very concentrated to read and understand the book.

HF
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