Wednesday 23 April 2014

Book Review - The Year of the Rat

The Year of the Rat
Author: Clare Furniss
Genres: Contemporary | Childrens, Young Adult
Release Date: 24th April 2014
Publishers: Simon and Schuster
No. Pages: 320
Source: Review Copy - Simon and Schuster
Buy From: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes and Noble | Waterstones
I always thought you'd know, somehow, if something terrible was going to happen. I thought you'd sense it, like when the air goes damp and heavy before a storm and you know you'd better hide yourself away somewhere safe until it all blows over. But it turns out it's not like that at all. There's no scary music playing in the background like in films. No warning signs. Not even a lonely magpie. One for sorrow, Mum used to say. Quick, look for another.

The world can tip at any moment.. a fact that fifteen-year-old Pearl is all too aware of when her mum dies after giving birth to her baby sister. Told across the year following her mother's death, Pearl's story is full of bittersweet humour and heartbreaking honesty about how you deal with grief that cuts you to the bone, as she tries not only to come to terms with losing her mum, but also the fact that her sister - The Rat - is a constant reminder of why her mum is no longer around.

The Year of the Rat and I did not at any point gel or get along, we didn't become best friends and I doubt I will even remember this book in a few weeks time. I appreciated the cover, it does look beautiful with the colours used and the relativity of a baby, and even that little touch on each chapter, each month was really sweet, but it couldn't at all make up for how disconnected I felt from the story and how much I really wanted to slap Pearl, numerous times.

My biggest problem with this book was Pearl. To start with, it didn't feel as though Pearl was as old as she was, she constantly sounded much younger, around twelve or thirteen and whether this was because the author wanted her to appear young and naive or whether it was just a mistake, I don't know, but that seriously frustrated me throughout. Add that to the fact I couldn't connect with her at all, the story was pretty much a whitewash for me. I could fully understand what she was going through, the affects her mother dying had on her and how she resented the baby that took her Mothers place, but being spiteful, difficult and forgetting just how much that loss affected other people was just unacceptable. If it wasn't for the fact that this story was a very easy and a very quick read, I probably would have DNF'd it completely because of Pearl; because of her voice, for the first time in months, I felt like I was just reading a book and not getting anything out of it, no emotions, no feelings, no nothing.

My second problem with this book was Pearl's mother. Now, I don't want to give anything away, but I seriously could not and still cannot understand what made the author think that the route she took in creating the relationship between Pearl and her mother was a good one. It generally felt like it didn't fit with the story whatsoever; it completely threw the entire 'grieving for your loss' out of the window. Put that snugly with her mothers personality, attitude and choices and well, I'm not surprised I didn't like either of them, especially if it's Mother like Daughter.

I really felt like I missed the entire point behind this book. The romance was pretty naff, with no believability involved whatsoever, the connection or lack there of of one with 'The Rat' was pretty poor and the entire execution of the story was quite disappointing. I can't help but think if I hadn't read another 'grief' styled book, Me Since You so close beforehand, I may have felt a little better about The Year of the Rat, but I doubt it would been much of an improvement. In the end, there's not a lot I can say about my experience with this book, because as the saying goes, if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all, and it's difficult to try and pinpoint and single feature and area I enjoyed. I have a feeling this book just missed the mark with me and to someone else, it could be fantastic, so if you're interested, do check out other reviews too and get a more balanced opinion.


  1. Ahhhh this sounds bad :( Such a bummer though because I got really excited over the synopsis. I haven't read any realistic fictions on grieving for the loss of one's parents, so I thought this could be cool. And then of course, I saw the 2 stars. It's a shame you didn't feel connected to the characters. I always think that's what realistic fictions are all about, to have readers see a piece of themselves in the character and to invoke maximum empathy. I will probably just stay away from this one for now.

    Angel @ Spare Reads

    1. I don't think you should let my review fool you too much Angel, I do think it could be highly enjoyable in the right hands, I just couldn't connect or relate, and that's one of the most important things to me :)

    2. Mhmmmm :P Maybe I will read a sample of this!

  2. Aw it's a shame that this didn't work out! Originally, I was going to request it from the pub but hesitated because I wasn't sure that this was my cup of tea. Looks like I made the right choice (for once)! Yeah, nothing here seems rather outstanding.

    Brilliant review, hun! <33

    1. I was really gutted when it didn't work out, as I say, I'd read Me Since You and really liked it, so it was a shame.
      It was rather an underwhelming book, so it would seem you made the right choice Mel, thank you! :)

  3. I'm sorry that this book didn't work out for you Amanda, I think the way you described Pearl's character I would definitely have a lot of issues with this book too! But thank you for your honest review, I hope your next read is a lot more enjoyable! :)

    1. I'm just glad it was short enough to see through until the end and do a fair review on it.
      You're welcome Jasprit, I'm glad you found it worth reading, and thank you! :)

  4. This has a really interesting premise but sounds like it would bother me as well. But, some parts sound like they hit the nail on the head. That part about her not being able to see how much the loss affected everyone else does sound about right. But I don't think I could deal with reading that kind of character, especially if she comes across super young as well. She sounds insufferable if I am honest. I really want to know about Pearl's mum now!!! I'm intrigued, but not intrigued enough to make myself suffer through reading the book lol.

    1. I do confess, there were parts that were good, but the overall feeling of the book didn't outweigh it. I would not recommend buying it buying it now, but if you found it in the library or discounted hugely, then maybe try it then :)


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