Reviews

Mosquitoland, by David Arnold 🚞

Lately, I haven’t really been in the mood for contemporaries. This book hasn’t changed that.

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Genre:

Young Adult/ Contemporary/ Fiction

Pages:

352 (hardcover)

Praise:

  • Milwaukee County Teen Book Award Nominee
  • Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Young Adult Fiction
  • “A breath of fresh air” —Entertainment Weekly
  • “Memorable” —People
  • “Illuminating” —Washington Post

Synopsis:

After the sudden collapse of her family, Mim Malone is dragged from her home in northern Ohio to the “wastelands” of Mississippi, where she lives in a medicated milieu with her dad and new stepmom. Before the dust has a chance to settle, she learns her mother is sick back in Cleveland.

So she ditches her new life and hops aboard a northbound Greyhound bus to her real home and her real mother, meeting a quirky cast of fellow travelers along the way. But when her thousand-mile journey takes a few turns she could never see coming, Mim must confront her own demons, redefining her notions of love, loyalty, and what it means to be sane.

My rating: 3.5/ 5

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Review:

I was so afraid that this book would be just an excuse to put deep quotes out into the world. Unfortunately, it was pretty much just that.

Now, don’t get me wrong. The story is enjoyable, it has potential and the main character, Mim, is really likeable and relatable, even though her immaturity is annoying at times and sometimes she acts like a whiny 6 year old. Also, you grow to adore the friends she makes during the journey: Walt, a kid with Down syndrome who… is compared to a pet (that represents every good aspect of the world, if you ask me), Beck, a guy with whom she falls in love in the blink of an eye (whose mentality is infinitely more developed) and Arlene, a nice old lady that, in my opinion, didn’t get as much attention as she would have deserved.

But they don’t feel like real people.  They and their actions feel like tools used to spread a meaningful, mind-blowing message that is not truly there. Once you discover that, the book is pretty useless, as the story is based on life-lessons wannabe.  There is not exactly a plot because, in the end, it seems that Mim gives up too easily on her oh, so great purpose. I wanted more closure regarding her relationship with her father; she often criticises him, but at the same time she claims she understands his decisions. Her stepmother’s behaviour is irritating too. I think that the narrator wanted to turn her into a “good” character in the last few pages, but it didn’t work out because the problems that started this whole misunderstanding are not really discussed, nor resolved.

On the other hand, the writing was beautiful and some of the metaphors did their job well. There were a few moments when I perceived Mim as alive because the physical sensations she was put through were so palpable.  However, this was not enough to erase the vibe that many, many, many phrases were exaggerated and pointless. Without them, the book would have probably been only 250 pages or so long.

Moreover, the mental illness aspect’s relevance as to the protagonist is questionable. Mim has something and then it’s gone? It’s not as severe as her father thinks?  It’s not affecting her… at all? And what is it (at a certain point I thought it was Schizophrenia, maybe Neurosis, but there aren’t that many clues)? Now this is a matter I would have loved to see expanded.

In conclusion, I must say that “Mosquitoland” is not bad. It only has curves in all the wrong places. I advise you to read it, though, but without expectations, and see for yourself. It is surely charming.

Every great character, Iz, be it on page or screen, is multidimensional. The good guys aren’t all good, the bad guys aren’t all bad, and any character wholly one or the other shouldn’t exist at all. Remember this when I describe the antics that follow, for though I am not a villain, I am not immune to villainy.

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