April 27, 2015

Mosquitoland - David Arnold

Young Adult (mature)
  • Pages: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers 
  • Release Date: March 3, 2015 
  • Goodreads / Amazon
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 probably a 3 or 4-star book for me up until the middle of it. And then the brilliance of what seemed an overdone smart-ass witty writing hit me. Here's what I think happened: it was like meeting a weird stranger that keeps baffling you with his/her oddities--after enough time with this stranger, strangely enough, he/she becomes a non-stranger. As in, you know this person now. Thus, once I got over the weirdness that is Mary Iris Malone and the odd too-smart spot-on writing of this novel, I fell deeply in love with it. It now shone brilliantly, separating this wonderful novel from every other novel I've ever read.

I started collecting bits of its brilliance in the form of quotes, like the following:
"I call it Mim's Theorem of Monkey Do Monkey Don't, and what it boils down to is this: it is my belief that there are some people whose sole purpose of existence is to show the rest of us how not to act."

In the same witty note of Mim herself I would add, damn straight it is. That quote will resonate with me for the ages because it seems to have put into the exact words a theory I've had in my mind forever. Aren't those the best quotes? Damn straight.

Or the absolute hats-off coolness of the dialogue in instances like:
"So--I think my best course of action here is to just, you know, let the ridiculousness of that sentence marinate."

Boom, indeed. Let me tell you this: if you feel like I did a few chapters in, if the oddness and wittiness feels forced at first, push on and keep going. By the time you close the book at the end, you'll be grateful you did. Very few times in life do we encounter books that resonate so very deeply with a generation and its readers. This book is indeed a collection of oddities and it's told in a wonderful voice that I will miss dearly. The characters, my God, the characters. They were amazing. The slow onion-peel of the plot, beyond amazing. Do yourself a favor and pick this book up soon.

NOTE: I would say it's for the more mature readers in the Young Adult readership. Also, I highly recommend the audio version, if you're into that.

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