on 27 September 2013
Whoa. Charm and Strange just blew my mind. It’s taken me a while to write this review, because I was speechless after reading it, up until now. I had seen this book going around, and read a few reviews of it, and I really didn’t know what to think, so I requested a copy from the lovely Egmont UK and got stuck into it straight away. I had no expectations, no predictions, I hadn’t even read the blurb! And that’s what I recommend you do if you’re planning on reading this. Don’t look it up on Goodreads either! Trust me, you will have a much better experience reading this novel if you just jump straight into it. From the first sentence I fell in love with Khuen’s writing and was totally engrossed in this unique story line. Never have I read anything like this before, and I probably won’t read anything like this again. For a debut novel, Stephanie Khuen has really shown what a brilliant and intelligent writer she is. Charm and Strange might even be my new favourite book…
“Why, oh, why isn’t she leaving? She should, because I can be cold. I can be a lot of things. But she’s new, lonely. Maybe she thinks she’s found a kindred spirit.”
I agree with other book bloggers when they say it’s hard to review Charm and Strange without giving anything away. But don’t worry, I’ve done it! No spoilers here! Charm and Strange is a serious story. It’s different, it’s weird, it’s screwed up! I was so confused for the first half of the novel, and then pieces of the story started to click together. I can see people either loving or hating this book. There are people who are going to read the first twenty pages of this novel and not bother with the rest. But if you’re like me, and you appreciate a novel that different, unique and is so cleverly written, then I definitely recommend you read Charm and Strange. I wouldn’t say that I enjoyed reading Charm and Strange because I feel like ‘enjoyed’ is the wrong word to use for such a story line. I really don’t have much more to say about the plot because, well, there’s just not much more to say about it, other than how unique and clever it is.
“I am of the sea.
I am of instability.
I am of harsh, choppy waves roiling with all the up-ness, down-ness, top-ness, bottom-ness, contained within my being.
I am of charm and strange.
The characters were definitely the most interesting aspect of this novel. They were all compelling, in their own different way. Our protagonist was such a mysterious character, and I found myself trying to figure him out throughout the book. He was also an interesting narrator of the story, it was told perfectly through his eyes. His complexity and ominousness is developed to a fine art. I’m baffled at how Khuen so effortlessly created these incredibly woven characters. And by woven, I mean how connected each character felt to the story. The supporting characters were mysterious and added greatly to the story line. I was sorta freaked out at times when different characters confronted each other in such ways, but that’s what made Charm and Strange so different.
Stephanie Khuen’s writing, I could ramble about it all day! Her style was simple and smooth, which contrasted to the eventful story line, but it gave the novel that sense of eeriness. From page one, Charm and Strange seemed so dark and eerie, and I think the writing made the reader feel so connected with this eeriness, creating an incredible reading atmosphere. Khuen’s style of writing is so unique. For a debut author, she took a risk, and I’m so glad she did. She has created a whole new way of writing that is easily identifiable. I will know a Stephanie Khuen book when I see the writing! Immediately after I finished Charm and Strange, I felt empty. I wanted to read more, experience more of Khuen’s extraordinary writing. I felt connected to the characters, and the story line, and I didn’t want to let it go. I’m aching to get my hands on Stephanie Khuen’s next novel as soon as it’s available. She’s definitely one of my new favourite writers.
“She must have seen more of my charm than my strangeness tonight.”
I have to mention how beautiful the cover of Charm and Strange is. It’s one if the best book covers I’ve ever seen, and I applaud Jim Kay, the designer. I also love the US cover, it definitely suites the story line! The title, Charm and Strange, is obviously the perfect name for this novel. You’ll know what I mean if you’ve read it.
Overall, Charm and Strange is definitely like nothing I’ve read before. I really recommend it to everyone, because I feel that it’s such a unique reading experience that everyone must try. I completely admire Stephanie Khuen! Unfortunately, her next novel, Complicit, won’t be released until 2014. I’ll definitely be checking it out! If you’re a fan of YA, but like something completely different then you need to try Charm and Strange. I won’t be forgetting about it anytime soon!
*NOTE: As you know, I loved this novel. And you know how difficult it is to review books you love, right? You want it to be perfect and give the book the praise it deserves, but most of the time your mind is just jumbled because you can’t get over how much you loved this book! So this review didn’t go the way I wanted it to go, but I hope you get the just of what I’m trying to say about this book.(less)