Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Headline (20th Sept 2016)
Victor Benucci and Madeline Falco have a story to tell.
It begins with the death of Vic’s father.
It ends with the murder of Mad’s uncle.
The Hackensack Police Department would very much like to hear it.
But in order to tell their story, Vic and Mad must focus on all the chapters in between.
This is a story about:
1. A coded mission to scatter ashes across New Jersey.
2. The momentous nature of the Palisades in winter.
3. One dormant submarine.
4. Two songs about flowers.
5. Being cool in the traditional sense.
6. Sunsets & ice cream & orchards & graveyards.
7. Simultaneous extreme opposites.
8. A narrow escape from a war-torn country.
9. A story collector.
10. How to listen to someone who does not talk.
11. Falling in love with a painting.
12. Falling in love with a song.
13. Falling in love.
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I have a thing. A thing. Like. You know, a thing? No? No one?! WHAT. Okay I’m just kidding. I do have a thing though - which is a thing (is this word losing all meaning to you too now?) for cool titles, unique, quirky titles and this was definitely one of those for me. Throw in the vague but hugely interesting blurb - you’ve got me hooked. I LOVE blurbs that have a list of some kind and short snappy sentences stringing together so many contrasting statements. It makes the story all the more intriguing. PS, I got the BIGGEST kick from the fact Vic's full name includes Bruno (which if you don't already know, is the name of my true love, Bruno Mars).
I enjoyed this book - but was also hugely annoyed by it. The writing style is similar to that of “I’ll Give You The Sun” by Jandy Nelson - which some will love, but I couldn’t finish that book, because it was just too much - trying too hard. Though the writing style in Kids of Appetite was a watered down version of it and not trying as hard to be pretentious (to me at least). Like, I did enjoy bits of the writing style, but some parts of a sentence where just wholly unnecessary and about 20% of the book could honestly be cut out through erasing those extra bits. Certain metaphors (let’s take Mad’s hair, for example and the many ways in which Vic describes it) was just really over the top. I get it, Vic sees beauty in many things and looks under the surface, looks for colours and whatnot - but it doesn’t make for fun reading overtime he describes Mad’s hair as some kinda sun that was blinding him, you know?
Honestly, I did enjoy the book - the characters were a riot - if not somewhat unbelievable - as no kids in that age bracket in the story, can REALLY be that precocious. But that’s not such a big issue to me in the end, since this is fiction after all. I loved Coco, she reminded me so much of Louise from the TV show Bob’s Burgers. If you’ve seen that show, you’ll know exactly what I mean. Every time Coco said something in the book, my mind would instant flash to Louise saying those very things. I loved the characters of Baz and Zuz. These brothers were heartbreakingly beautiful - and my fav characters of the whole book. They stood out for so many reasons, but mainly I think Baz’s attitude, morals, and ethics made me love him even more.
“Do you need help?” repeated Baz in the here and now.
Vic rubbed his head, the spot where he’d hit the metal desk, and nodded slowly as if still considering the question.
Baz squinted. “I need you to say it.”
“Yes,” said Vic. “I need help.”
I remember how hot the Cinema 5 had been, how I used to push my sleeves up, and it always made me smile, because it was such a luxury being able to push up my sleeves, knowing it was too dark for anyone to see the bruises. Per usual, I had fallen asleep, and when I woke up, there he was, this employee carrying a sweeper and asking me if I needed help. I was still in the hazy fog of sleep, but I’m not sure it mattered. Yes, I’d responded. Then came the second question . . .
“Did you hurt anyone?” asked Baz.”
Vic and Mad were good characters too - but they didn’t stand out as much to me, despite the fact that the main narrative is on their shoulders. Leading on to the next part - I absolutely LOVED the style in which the story switched from recounting the events from 7 days ago like a countdown, and the switch between the interrogation of Mad and Vic in the present. It was refreshing and the swap in pace and style is a good way to keep the story interesting. Those kinds of things make a book all the more appealing to me, books that read in an email style for example, or pieces of script/letters/text inserted throughout the book. Good stuff, good stuff. The background characters, all the lives that the Kids of Appetite had touched, were also some of the best parts of the book. Topher, Norm, Margo, they lent themselves beautifully to the book and the bond through which they were all connected, again, I loved, all thanks to Baz really. Shan’t say no more.
The plot itself, though I liked it, I felt like it could have been perfect had it not been for the over-the-top-ness of sentences and descriptions, especially, those from Vic. For me, the interrogation part of Vic and his tangents and the perspective through which he thought and acted, didn’t really connect with me - but I can even pardon that to a certain extent given that his condition and what he lives with has attributed to building his character in such a way. Maybe I wasn’t meant to understand him or connect with him - but it sure would have made the book a better read if I did - since his interrogation scenes, the way he acted and the things he said just annoyed me kinda. I get some of it was to also serve a purpose, but as a character, I just didn’t like Vic that much.
The interrogation, the swap between past and present, the whole way the story begins and ends - I felt was pretty great. One of my fav parts:
Bundle lets loose a roaring sigh, his face cherry red.
“Madeline, this afternoon you and Victor walked in here with Baz Kabongo, the three of you smelling for all the world like you just stepped out of a shit tornado—”
“I told you, there’s a good reason for that.”
And he does - trust me. I mean c’mon, who wouldn’t be intrigued by this whole thing? I enjoyed this book a lot, and would love to read similar things like it. There are things I would change about this book, but in the end, it’s a good story, which echoes friendship, loyalty and love - and it was fun - what more could I want? (Answer: I’d like some lasagne right now, but I’ll cut my review here and leave you guys to it).