Author: Meg Rosoff
Published by: Penguin
Publication date: 5th September 2013
Genres: Young Adult
Source: Review copy from the publisher
This review is going to be difficult to write. If you're a regular reader of this blog, you'll know that when I give a book a negative review, I also try to find positives to balance it out. Unfortunately I am unable to do that with this book, which is a real shame and I feel horrible for it!
Mila is a 12 year old girl who is much wiser than her age. She is enormously observant, to the point where she is imagining flow charts and check-lists in her head to work out the emotions and motives of others. You know when you're reading and you kind of have a voice reading it out in your head? It makes the reading experience better and more natural, but this time I couldn't do that. My brain got confused. In the story, it doesn't say that Mila is 12 until the book is nearly finished; as I said earlier, she is much wiser than her age, so for most of the book I found it really hard to hold a steady image of her in my head. This lead to not being able to connect with her at all, and I think it's really important for the reader to connect to the main protagonist in any book.
The writing technique in 'Picture Me Gone' is very unusual. There are no speech marks, so I found it hard to differentiate between dialogue and the rest of the book. It's a very Marmite kind of writing style, and by that I mean you either love it or hate it. I know people who found themselves loving that kind of writing but...well, it just didn't agree with me. I spent more time wondering if a sentence was speech or an internal thought than I did fully immersing myself into the plot.
Towards the middle of the book, we are introduced to a boy named Jake. I can't say why or how he is part of the story because I hate spoilers! I really liked him as a character though, and he was probably the only thing I liked about the whole book. He was the normality when everything else seemed a bit...messed up. Jake wasn't in it much, which was sad because I think he brought something really great to the book and, if he had been in it more, maybe I would have enjoyed it a bit more than I did. Rosoff started a sub-plot with him which had a lot of potential, and then it just fizzled off like a firework losing it's spark on Bonfire Night.
'Picture Me Gone' is very much about getting the reader to decide things for themselves. There were moments when things would pass between characters, but Rosoff didn't draw upon them and it wasn't obvious what was happening. This made the book lack quite a bit of emotion.
I was really excited about reading this after seeing tons of positive reviews, so to say I'm disappointed is an understatement. The cover is really pretty, but it's the inside that counts! I really don't like writing negative reviews and I feel terrible; hopefully none of you hate me too much after this. I give this book 1/5.