How I Live Now

How I Live Now

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I’m not quite sure of the purpose of this post, but I feel you can never have too many pictures of pretty books. I’ve just come back from watching the adaptation, with Saoirse Ronan as Daisy, which is extremely realistic and harrowing at times, and well worth watching if you enjoyed the book.

I first read How I Live Now in 2005, when I was sixteen years old. (An actual teenager! Reading YA!). I bought my copy when I had absolutely no connection to the bookish community. I hadn’t heard of it previously and I probably would not even have called it ‘young adult’. I’m not quite sure what made me pick it up, but I think it must have been the pretty cover and intriguing title. I actually didn’t think much of it when I first read it. I remember posting a short book review on Amazon, which I’ve now deleted because it was so badly written, saying that it could have taken place in any MEDC (More Economically Developed Country). (I studied A Level Geography and clearly thought I was being clever). But a few years later, when I decided to pick it up again, it had much more of an emotional impact. Perhaps because I no longer saw ‘war’ as an abstract concept, but as something that genuinely was happening around the world. Because it’s set in England, especially, it made me think that it could really happen to me. (And the clips and descriptions of London blown to smithereens, in the movie, was heartbreaking!).

Three years ago, on Pretty Books, I said that it was my first dystopian novel, but now I’m not sure it fits into my definition of ‘dystopia’. It’s less about the government imposing deplorable social control, but more of a realistic reaction to a sudden outbreak of war. I also noticed that it was not as audacious as Tomorrow, When the War Began, which, on the surface, sounds like a similar story.

How I Live Now is a wonderful novel (from what I remember!) and movie and I’ve now been spurred on to pick it up again… I wonder what I’ll think of it this time?

12 thoughts on “How I Live Now

  1. It’s funny, I come from a military family, and war has never been far away from me, but I detested this book the first time I read it when I was sixteen. My dad was deployed again, and my librarian advised it, saying it was a girl my age in a similar situation (in the sense of not knowing about loved ones, worried about death, etc.), but I only managed maybe fifty pages before I was done with the protagonist. She was dull and insipid to me.
    I tried again recently, when I saw there was a movie being made, and it had won an award. I thought maybe my own frustration and anger had made me dislike everyone. (I threw aside a lot of books during that time) Unfortunately, I have still failed to grasp what makes this book special. None of the characters resonate with me at all. Not to mention the strange relationship she develops with her cousin.
    Oh well. Guess I’m stuck waiting for the next Hobbit movie for a book-to-movie night.

    • Ah yes, the relationship is definitely controversial.

      I think that Daisy just isn’t a likeable character, but that’s okay because not every character has to be likeable. (I am basing this on Saoirse Ronan’s character since it’s been too long for me to remember Daisy from the book.) She isn’t kind or even that brave, really. She’s a little selfish because she essentially puts Piper in danger by going to look for Edmund, although perhaps she does because she genuinely thinks the camp is unsafe. I quite like how none of the characters have really anything to prove.

  2. Only concern about the movie version is that I worry the causes of the war are a little too pronounced. What I loved about the book is that you knew “something” had happened but that you were with Daisy in the not knowing exactly what other than it was horrific.

    Shop you follow Meg Rossoff on Twitter – always worthwhile…

  3. Have you ever read any of her other works? I read What I Was and I really struggled through it. Would you recommend giving this one a go? I’m intrigued by the movie trailer so I’m trying to decide whether to skip the book and just go straight for the movie.

  4. SO PRETTY! I was spurred to read it because of the film’s trailer but…I feel like I might wait for the film, eep. I don’t think I was in the right frame of mind to read a book without quotes so maybe I will try it again one day.

  5. I’ve read a few of Meg Rosoff’s novels, including this one. Her writing is so unusual, almost confronting. I’m never entirely sure whether I’m enjoying the book or not! But I think that’s part of her talent – her stories do stay with you in a ways you can’t quite explain.

  6. I watched the movie on Netflix maybe two weeks ago. I want to watch it again now. Saoirse Ronan is always in kickass movies (the way back, atonement, Hanna, even the host I watched over and again. Lovely bones sucked but w.e)
    Just finished the book ten minutes ago. I really like the dialogue, she is such a smart writer, she writes how I want to. Though I feel like it’s too short that it leaves out some important things; feels like something is missing. I cried when she meets Edmond again in the book. But it was nothing compared to watching the movie: feeling like crying and nothing coming out, and then the screen goes black and the credits roll. Waterworks for half an hour. It was so goffamn sad.
    Like I was cooking eggs on the stove and thinking shit my life is so good. There’s somebody out there right now suffering. Why why why. Why did the Japanese do what they did in the rape of Nanking, why did the Persians invent a form of torture for the Greeks, why bomb people waiting for bread in sarajevo and Syria. The fact you’re so powerless and non influencing.
    Anyway all of that frocks me up. I’ve read witch & wizard (the graphic novel), mocking jay (omg), seen all these shows and books and it’s just so, so, unbelievable. Like you can be happy and then you’re not, you’ve got ptsd. Watched two women. That was so…
    Yeah anyway I think there should be a class for this stuff. Besides English class or social studies. There was a holocaust class I had in high school, best teacher ever too. (About genocide but with a main focus on the holocaust)
    I feel apathetic about it all because I live a very privileged life (and a privileged skin colour) far away from that but it happens to people all the time (Soviet war in Afghanistan). It
    Could happen to anybody at anytime like Lee
    Soon-ok, glad this book was made, glad there’s documentaries and lots of people telling their stories like what the ruck earth. Why are we even here and wage war.

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