Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Review: Mosquitoland by David Arnold

Publication Date: September 10th 2015
Publisher: Headline
Length: 336 pages

Thanks to Netgalley and Headline for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review

"I am a collection of oddities, a circus of neurons and electrons: my heart is the ringmaster, my soul is the trapeze artist, and the world is my audience. It sounds strange because it is, and it is, because I am strange."
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.
Told in an unforgettable, kaleidoscopic voice, "Mosquitoland" is a modern American odyssey, as hilarious as it is heartbreaking.

This was an oddball of a book for me, that ultimately wasn’t quite my cup of tea, but I think will appeal to a lot of other people.

The biggest problem for me was the lack of connection with any of the characters. By the end I had begun to care about Mim, but it was too little too late by that point. She is a very abrasive character, and sometimes that works for me and sometimes it doesn’t. In this case, I didn’t really care for her as I had with some other more caustic heroines, and her voice and personality will definitely divide readers.However she really leaps off the page, full of life and opinions and flaws, and that is a wonderful thing to read.

Mim is most definitely an unreliable narrator. She leaves things out until the end, quite pertinent information so that you are forced to comply with her world view until the truth comes tumbling out and both she and the reader realise that not everything is as it seems.

I did enjoy watching all the pieces start to click into place towards the end of the book, but like with caring about Mim herself, it kinda felt like too little too late. On the whole the rest of the plot fell into place in a rather predictable fashion with some insta love for added fun and a fair few moments where I gave the book the side eye due to Mim’s actions and thoughts. Her ‘war paint’ was problematic, but at least she recognised that it was, but her and Beck talking about Walt (their Down Syndrome friend) being their pet dog, was a little much.
It also felt a little bit too episodic with the detours. Sure we get some interesting characters making appearances, but the arcs felt a little bit too much like they were only in the book to show Mim's growth. Zany and exciting new people who pop up, make a brief impression and then leave. Something about the construction of the detours just didn't quite work for me - add it to the list of many things that sadly didn't.

It was a book that felt as though it were trying too hard to be another ‘HEY LOOK MENTAL ILLNESS’ book, and it didn’t feel like it tackled it particularly well. Certain elements were done well, but there were quite a few that either didn’t work or made me look squinty eyed at the book to make sure I was reading it right. However it does tackle a lot of pertinent issues - the disillusion of her parent's relationship, the grey areas of discovering that your parents are people in their own right who makes mistakes and have problems of their own and a lot of that was really interesting to read. It's just a shame that it was buried in amongst so much else that didn't work for me.

I just felt kinda apathetic about the book by the time I finished. That’s most likely all on me, I wasn’t in the mood for a contemporary, or maybe I was too tired and should have gone to bed already. But for me personally, this book just wasn’t really my thing.


  1. It's such a shame you didn't enjoy this - the premise sounds so, so good! I'm definitely curious to read it and see what I think though.

    1. Wondering whether maybe I was just in the wrong mood/frame of mind for it. Very interested to hear what you make of it!