It’s almost two months into the new year, which means that it’s time to get a few reviews up, otherwise I’m not going to do it when I have a pile of 15 books to review. I’m doing this chronologically, so let’s start with the first book I read this year.
Affektion, by Martin Jern
This is a Swedish novel that I picked up at the library because I like reading young adult fiction as a way to be able to recommend stuff to students. They’re most often quick and easy to read, so they pass me by quickly and that suits me just fine. Affektion is obviously the Swedish spelling of the word “affection” and I picked up the book before I knew that I was going to do this challenge. After I started the challenge I finally filed this under the category “A book with a love triangle”.
It’s about a girl who is kind of a broken soul. Her mother and father aren’t really there in her life and she has a lot of attitude. The book jumps back and forth in the narrative and we learn pretty quickly that this girl and her best friend use their sexuality as a way to manipulate men and get what they want. It starts when they’re twelve years old and our main character Kate Mess (taken name, obviously) starts drinking and exploring more adult stuff. That’s in the flashbacks. In the “current day” narrative we learn that she’s running from something traumatic and that this experience put a wall between Kate and her best friend. The author also uses Facebook comment threads sprinkled in here and there, mainly by the girls’ circle of friends, to give us an idea of how the others look at them.
I had a hard time reading this book because Kate is just so very unsympathetic. I didn’t care about her at all. Maybe it’s because I’ve worked with my share of broken kids and know how frustrating it can be to see them slip away in whatever chaos they’re in. I know that sounds contradictory, but this girl was the kind of kid who doesn’t even try and who brings it on herself. It’s difficult to explain, but there are kids who try and kids who don’t try, who actively seek out chaos despite having every opportunity to avoid it. She’s like that and therefore, all the bad shit that happens to her in the book doesn’t really make my sympathetic to her. She wasn’t the only broken character in the book. It was a parade of people living on the other side of society.
I also had a hard time reading this book because the narrative was all over the place, in different ways. The time aspect was weird. It wasn’t really clear when the different chapters played out or when the Facebook comments happened. You had to piece that together for yourself and sure, I appreciate novels that don’t hold your hand, but there’s good writing and there’s bad writing as far as that goes. Jern didn’t pull it off with this one. The other confusing thing was that, after some time of reading the book, it became obvious that not only does Kate lie to other people, she’s also lying to the reader, and quite possibly also herself. That made some things pretty inconsistent. I appreciate the creative decision to do that, but considering that the book’s audience is teenagers, I highly doubt many of them will understand it.
It’s a depressing read from start to finish, with unsympathetic characters all over the place, and the narrative choices by the author are annoying. It felt like a waste of time to read this.
I rated this 1 out of 5 on Goodreads. Finished it on January 3, 2015.