Screaming Young Adult // Dreaming the Bear Review

Signed books are always cool. I recently received a signed copy of Dreaming the Bear for my birthday and although I’m still struggling to find the balance between young adult and more adult novels, I did enjoy this book.

This book in particular screams young adult. The main character is your typical relatable teen to an extent, but due to a respiratory illness is very weak and confined in some ways both mentally and physically, until she accidentally stumbles across an injured bear- with whom she finds refuge and comfort. After this incident they share a bond and a connection which brings with it many obstacles and difficulties in a National Park prejudiced against these bears due to their violence.

It’s an original concept for a young adult novel. Although friendship is tackled in many books for teenagers it was interesting to explore the relationship between us and animals, especially when there are more complications due to the language barrier and any prejudices others have. Although it was mainly family orientated, of course it wouldn’t be complete without a love interest, and it was inevitable that something would happen between our stereotypically female protagonist and this mysterious yet somehow reserved boy, who was a friend of her older brother.

For me, the novel seemed to be paced in bursts until the climax. For the most part it was quite cliché, apart from the original concept and her illness, and the illness gave us an easy way to sympathise with her and excuse her for her bad attitude. Sometimes things fell into place too easily: for example she always seemed to have money and food for the bear and themselves during the storm.

However, we can’t ignore the startling climax. It suddenly gets very real and we are almost sent crashing back down to earth as our beloved problematic-yet-loveable protagonist is faced with the consequences of her actions, resulting in her having to kill the bear she worked so hard to care for. I would be lying if I said I was expecting it, and although it was quite heart wrenching to read it was almost refreshing to see her learn from her mistakes, even though she obviously meant well. It seemed like she got away with a lot during the story and I’m glad us readers could extract a moral from it: that actions have consequences, and you have to face up to them.

Overall: an enjoyable concept, definitely for teenagers, and a very lighthearted easy read.

PS: I’m 3 books behind schedule on my reading challenge. I have 5 books left to read before the end of the year. Help.

The Thing about Chester

Chester is a home away from home to me.

When I moved here to start University, it was the start of a new chapter. After living in the same house in the same town in the same country for the past 18 years, many would say that a change was overdue. As a result, it became the place where I developed a sense of independence I could never achieve at home, and where I’ve developed the most as a person. Therefore it holds a special place in my heart.

Chester is a pretty place. It’s a place where people will drop by, admire the clock and the walls and the buildings and return to their own homes armed with many bags of shopping. When you live there, you notice more than just the clock and the walls and the buildings. You notice the fleeting sunset dancing over the hills that mark the beginnings of North Wales. You notice the lights and the beauty of the Christmas Markets. You notice the hidden wonders like my favourite tiny bookstore tucked away on the walls.

It’s peaceful and quiet here. Even on a night out you can walk home at any time without glancing back to check there isn’t a shadow looming behind you that isn’t your own. Sure, the main streets can get so busy that the slow walkers make me want to end my days but it will never match the craziness of Cardiff, Manchester or Liverpool.

I can explore here. I can try out new places for myself, discover new wonders that I can recommend to my friends back home while pretending I’m cultured and have the time on my hands to sip obscure coffee in a hidden cafe. I know this city like the back of my hand now, and I can show people when they visit why it is so special to me, and what makes it worthy of the many tourists who take selfies with the country’s most photographed clock after Big Ben in London.

It may not be my true home like Wales, but it feels like a home to me. Thanks, Chester.

Invisible to You // A Ramble

People say mental illnesses are invisible. If they’re invisible, it means they don’t exist. They’re not a bother, they’re not a burden. It’s not really an illness at all, it’s just a glitch in the mind, an anomaly, an error.
So when it turns out that you’re stuck with it for the foreseeable future, you’ve almost resigned yourself to the fact already that you’re no longer going to be taken seriously.

You’re not taken seriously because of the people who write lamenting posts online daily, who can only be “brave” or “an inspiration” so many times before it’s “annoying” or “attention seeking”. You’re not taken seriously because everyone gets anxious, everyone has days when they feel sad and everyone gets nervous. Its normal to feel things, but as soon as you don’t feel them the same as everyone else it is wrong.

It’s wrong to feel so nervous about something that you almost suffocate, your brain is blinded by dread, your lungs and voice cease to work and you’re reduced to nothing.

It’s wrong to not go somewhere or choose to not do something because you’re so drained and unmotivated due to your emotions running you dry, but that is seen as laziness.

I was told once that having a panic attack is like running a marathon, but that doesn’t mean it is taken seriously. You don’t move, in fact you do quite the opposite to running a marathon: being frozen into place and losing the ability to function, why is it the same thing? Why am I left with the same feeling of being worn out as I would after spending hours at the gym?

The feelings get suppressed. You explore outlets, you disconnect, your panic is replaced with rage and then replaced again with sadness and bitterness. You’re confused. Why are your emotions so different and so overwhelming that it’s no longer categorised in society’s neat box? When do your emotions stop being associated with mere loneliness or a bad day or nervousness and start being associated with deterioration and a loss of the will to live? The people you may gain the courage to confide in feel helpless yet concerned, as you’re dragged down an individual path of hell that you struggle to control.

You may go to counselling. You may exercise. You may take medication. No one can see anything to diagnose. They have to trust you. There’s so little trust in this world that you fight against yourself, and you find ways to not be able to justify your feelings. You have gaps in your memory, your eyes are sore from crying, your head is pounding, but you still find excuses. People dumb it down, so you dumb it down. It feels stupid. It feels wrong. They see it as black and white while you are feeling so many different shades in the spectrum.

They may be perceived as invisible to the world, but they are visible to people within this world.

A Curious Concept // The Bees Review

It’s been difficult to find time to read these days, so when my birthday rolls around and I get a fresh supply of books it always kickstarts my reading just in time to finish my reading challenge by the end of the year (which I feel like I’m very behind on, whoops save me).

Today I’m going to talk about The Bees. I put this on my birthday wishlist because I was very intrigued by the concept, and although it wasn’t too far out of my normal comfort zone when it comes to genres, the fact that Laline Paull introduces a completely new perspective caught me off guard, and it worked out somehow.

It was original and exciting. I haven’t been this invested in a bee since The Bee Movie, and this was only because it became a massive meme and again, I was curious. The fact that they are very clearly bees physically yet appear to have human emotions gives us a new and fresh contribution to the dystopian genre, as like most popular dystopian books the society is rigid and controlled with very strict classes and roles. I was drawn into it, because somehow, even though I am most definitely not a bee, I could relate to it. I could relate to the boredom Flora felt about being stuck in the same routine, I could relate to her crave for society to accept a more creative or different outlook on life, I could relate, somehow. I’ve always wanted to have the ability to fly, too.

Sometimes I felt like it was unnecessarily dark. Sometimes the descriptions went to extremes that made it seem horrendously sexual, and if you were scarred by the Bee Movie, this is a whole new level somehow. Although graphic imagery can add to a story, sometimes I feel like it takes away the impact of the plot because people will struggle to take it seriously.

Nevertheless, I was hooked. The pace of the story was reasonably fast even though it takes place over a relatively long period of time. Also it revived my love of reading and kickstarted my reading challenge again, so I definitely consider it to be enjoyable.

Overall: I feel like it has a niche interest in the sense that you could easily be completely put off by the concept, but it wholeheartedly draws you in and takes you on a journey if you invest in it.