Mini-reviews #1: Pretty Monsters, The Wrong Grave & Fierce

Friday, November 12, 2010

The 'authors named Kelly edition'. Except there are only two Kellys reviewed in this post - Link and Osbourne - and I'm not sure whether you can properly say that a celebrity whose book was definitely ghost-written is an author or not. But I digress. Onto the mini-reviews!

Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link
Text Publishing / May 2010 / 208 pages
I don't know where Kelly Link gets her ideas from, but they're equally disturbing and absolutely enchanting. According to the page in the inside front where all the copyright information is, the book is 'for juveniles' - but I think your age doesn't particularly matter; if you like crazy and imaginative and very bizarre stories (and that's bizarre all in capitals), then you will most definitely like these. A few are a bit disturbing though, so I wouldn't recommend them to young adult readers at the lowest end of the age spectrum.

The stories are about all sorts of strange things - aliens and werewolves and monsters - but never the kind you expect. They're quite unlike anything else I've read. My favourite story was probably 'Monster' - about kids on camp, and a monster that is both absolutely monstrous - it rips them all to shreds - and strangely intelligent - it writes down people's addresses in a notebook is carries, and has an odd conversation with the narrator - and absolutely crazy. It was so weird and unexpected. But all of the stories are good. I think occasionally they were a little long for me - the fact that you have no idea where any of the stories are going is both great and perplexing - so perhaps not the kind of stories you'd read in one go while on a bus. I recommend it to upper YAs and adult readers looking for short stories that are extraordinarily out of the ordinary.

The Wrong Grave by Kelly Link
Text Publishing / August 2009 / 208 pagesThe Wrong Grave and Pretty Monsters are companion volumes, each with, I think, five stories. They're both bizarre and fabulous and I find them quite inspiring - after reading a story by Kelly Link, you sort of think about things differently. My favourite story in this volume is most definitely 'The Faery Handbag' - everything about it is fantastic. The idea of a strange world inside a handbag that you can disappear to for a night, and when you get out of twenty years may have passed (it's a sort of Narnia, I guess, except time travels very fast in Narnia compared to the real world, and in this story it's the opposite) makes the story immediately interesting, but the main thing I love about it is the way in which it is told - Link's writing is very evocative, and this story probably makes more sense than the others, but it's still delightfully weird. The descriptions of the thrift store and the hairy handbag and the narrator's grandmother are all wonderful.

Fierce by Kelly Osbourne
Virgin Books / September 2009 / 304 pages
I'm not much of a fan of Kelly Osbourne - I don't know much about her at all - but I find celebrity autobiographies fascinating, so i was interested to pick it up. Also, it's called Fierce (though I'm not entirely sure why) and you can't really go past a book titled that.

This book is about Kelly's life. It's easy-to-read, written in a very conversational manner (at one point she says she dictated the novel to someone for them to write it, because she's dyslexic, and you can tell), and sprinkled throughout with advice about different things - from drug and alcohol abuse, to hair and make-up. I believe it's geared towards a teen audience, but I was never quite sure.

It was a little disappointing in that it skims over things - her drug addiction is the focus of a few chapters, and she warns people off drugs, but goes into little detail about being rehabilitated and the worst aspects - it lacked a depth that I think would've given it more impact. That said, I think it's still an enjoyable book, but I was left unsure about what I thought of her - in some aspects, she (and her family) seem pretty crazy, and terribly spoilt, but she still seemed like someone who grew up in the working class.

Have you read any of these books? I'd love to hear your thoughts!
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