Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Review: Strange Creatures by Phoebe North

I don't even know where to begin with this book. I requested it along with several other ARCs from the publisher, yet I had not really read anything about it. Just thought it looked cute. Then this was the only book I got. And I saw how huge it was. And contemporary. So I got scared that I would not like this at all.

But I was wrong. Because this book was pretty amazing most of the time. Heartbreaking and evil a lot of the time too. And a few things I did not like at all. I'm giving it three stars. It was a four, until certain things at the ending that I did not like at all. But oh. I'm glad that I was wrong about this book. As I ended up liking it.

I will begin by saying that the writing was pretty much perfect. Which has so much to say for me when it comes to reading. I had no trouble connecting to this story and these characters. I liked getting to know them. Contemporary books are not always my thing. I don't like the whole school thing and people living in our world. Which was very much the case with this story. School, which I did not like. References to popular books, which I still did not like, haha. But I did not mind all of this too much. Though it's just not for me. But what was for me was the characters and getting to know them. The book begins with Annie and her point of view. I thought for a time it would be only her view of the story. But that was not the case. I liked the others, but not as much.

This book tells the story of Annie and her brother, Jamie. He is one year older than her. And they have been close ever since she was born. Always being together, always having fun. They made up their own world, called Gumlea. It was a world they had in the forest not far from their house. Annie could never really tell if it was truly real or not. Annie and Jamie spent so much time together as children. But then it stopped, when he became a teenager. When he got new friends and didn't spend time with Annie more.

This book is told in a weird way, to be honest. It is a book told about Annie growing up. It begins when she is very small. And continues that way for a long time, her slowly getting older. We get to see so much of her up to age fourteen, when Jamie disappears. He is just suddenly gone. And no one can find him or know what happened to him. Their whole family went into such grief, which was hard to read about. But written well too, I think. I did not really like their parents. They were not nice and treated their kids badly.

But I did like Annie. At least for a long time, until near the end of the book. Sigh. Getting to know her and Jamie was so interesting to read about. I hated reading about how they fell away from each other. How they started not talking to each other. It was so rude. They both had issues and problems, but we only learned about Annie at first. This was very much a character book. A little fantasy, which was so great to read about. Wish there had been more. It is a book about Annie growing up and changing into an adult.

We also get a point of view from Vidya. When she starts dating Annie. And how all that goes down. I thought that their romance was sweet. Despite being fully rushed and them not really having that much in common. Except for the missing Jamie, whom Vidya had been together with for over a year before he disappeared. And now she's with Annie. It was a little weird, but I'm glad that time had passed before it happened. I just wish Annie had treated her better. I did like Vidya's parents, though. Vidya was loving.

There is very much to say about this book. And my review is all kinds of long, but I just could not stop writing. And yet I still have not said all that I want to. There was so much that I could connect to in this book. I could connect to being different, like Annie and Jamie. And so much else too. I could not connect to being gay, or her troubles with that, but it was so good to read about. There is religion in this book too. Not for me, but written well. The characters were all different and I liked that a lot. Thought it was great.

Strange Creatures was such a difficult book for me. It was strange and lovely and heartbreaking. I grew to truly care for the characters. I wanted to know more about Jamie most of all. I liked the writing so much. I wanted to know more about their fantasy world, about their stories together. It was a little too much family drama for me, too much school drama too. The time was moving so slow most of the time, which was fully annoying, yet I liked just reading about their lives even so. But yeah. It was slow and boring at times.

And I did have a few issues with this book too. I did not really like Vidya, and it broke my heart how she was kind of being used by both siblings at different times. She deserved better, despite me not liking her fully. I did not like who Annie was near the ending of the book. I did not like how she treated one person, how she did not talk to this person, did not care, did not help. For so many years even. What. I am not forgiving that. And it hurt. I wish it has not been written that way. So yeah. Not really a fan of the ending.

I will not say what happens near the end. Just that it was a shocking thing. And it lasted for years, so many years went by. It was the most heartbreaking thing, getting to read about a third point of view in this book. It was only for a little while, but it was what broke me most and what I also liked most about this book. But when things should have been better after, they only got worse and worse and worse. And I could not stand that. Not at all. Wish the ending had been different. So, so much. Still. It was not all bad.

Big thank you to the publisher, Harper360YA, for sending me this gorgeous ARC to read and review. I am glad that I gave it a chance. It was not really a book for me, and yet I still liked it a whole lot. It did break me, though. As I had not realized how very dark it would be at times too. So yeah. Be prepared for that before reading. It is dark and there should be trigger warnings. I don't know if the finished copy has those. But despite the darkness, it was a book of small hopes too. And I would recommend that you all read it.

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