[Book Review #76] Kids of Appetite by David Arnold

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The bestselling author of Mosquitoland brings us another batch of unforgettable characters in this tragicomedy about first love and devastating loss.

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.

Book Specifications:

Author: David Arnold

Format: Paperback

Part of a Series: No. Standalone.

Release Date: October 20, 2016

Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers

No. of Pages: 352 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Friendship, Social Issues

Book Review:

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I’ve been meaning to read Mosquitoland by David Arnold ever since it came out and garnered amazingly positive reviews from my friends all over the world. For some reason, however, I keep putting it off and unfortunately, I still haven’t read anything by David. That is, until my friends from Penguin Random House sent me an early finished copy of his new novel, Kids of Appetite. Just like his debut novel, it’s getting all the stars I believe it deserves from bloggers, and I’m so glad to have been able to read and review it.

I (kinda) buddy read this with my good friend Hazel from Stay Bookish, and we actually have quite a few opinions in common.

I love reading misfit stories wherein most if not all of the main characters are flawed and are coming from different walks of life. I like how this book showed that you don’t have to be of the same races, nationalities, and gender for one to make friends. You just have to find that one thing you have in common with other people and that will instantly help you find an opening with others. I love how open their friendship was depicted through writing and it feels like I was in on their activities even if they’re purely fictional. Here, I saw that David Arnold’s way of writing is impeccably captivating.

One small negative comment I have, though, is that since it’s told in dual perspectives, wherein the story unfolds for us through Vic and Mad’s perspectives, I expected for a good balance of emotional investment with both characters. I’m not saying that it didn’t deliver, but I feel like I loved Vic’s POV by default. His narratives were rather more emotional, which was totally understandable seeing that he’s coming from a very grievous situation. But, I expected as much from Mad’s way of telling her story. Her POV felt flat to me, and I was expecting for her to have a deeper emotional angle to come from same with Vic, but alas, it sadly didn’t deliver well enough for me.

Since we’ve already mentioned it, I want to focus on how emotionally endearing it was to read Vic’s POV. The way David wrote Vic’s way of coping up with his grief and pain was truly honest and I’m giving this book plus points for that. I love how I could have easily related to him about how he felt after the death of his father (don’t worry, that wasn’t a spoiler). He was vulnerable and scared and how he reacted to his Mom being able to move on was both heartbreaking and understandable. I love how all throughout the book, Vic’s character was totally lovable and just easy to root for.

On a different note, however, if you’re going to ask me who’s my favorite character from our squad of misfits, I would definitely go with Coco. Her personality is just intriguing and I love how she’s always uncensored. She speaks her mind, even if sometimes she doesn’t process things well enough before doing so. Her innocence is commendable, and I think she would make a perfect little sister to any common Young Adult character.

I also appreciate David writing about Moebius syndrome and the struggles of living with this kind of diagnosis. It’s not common in YA literature, and I have to be honest. I discovered this through Kids of Appetite and it feels so nice to be educated and entertained all at once. And I know how much efforts goes into a book if you’re writing about illnesses, and I definitely have to commend David on doing so. He definitely did a great job.

All in all, I have to say that I’m definitely impressed. I’m glad I was able to power through this book, and I can’t wait for everyone to read it too. Many thanks again to my friends at Penguin Random House for the copy.

“Kids of Appetite is a great misfit story about a group of friends, trying to get through life after having been rejected a few times. It will definitely make you feel feelings not just for the story and the characters, but also at how honest and relatable the the story is.”

RATING:

Characters – 3.75

Plot – 4.00

Writing Style – 4.00

Pacing – 4.00

Ending – 3.75

TOTAL – 4.3 / 4 Stars

Quotable Quotes:

“My future is my own. And considering Florida is sunny year-round, my future sounds momentously bright.”

“Expression, for me, does not reside in passions glowing in a human face or manifested by violent movement.”

“I’m a junkyard full of false starts; and I don’t need your permission to bury my love under this bare lightbulb.”

“People always talk about growing old together like it’s the greatest, most romantic thing ever. But how often does it end up that way? People grow in different ways. More often than not, the just grow bitter.”

About the Author:

David Arnold write stories and songs. He like pesto, Arcade Fire, indie bookstores, Middle-earth, GARP, Elliott Smith, Christmastime, and all things Sorkin. He doesn’t like olives, liars, or wet socks. His debut novel, MOSQUITOLAND, was published by Viking/Penguin in Winter 2015. His second book, KIDS OF APPETITE, is tentatively set for a Fall 2016 release. He is represented by Dan Lazar at Writers House.

Twitter || Goodreads || Website

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