Saturday, December 18, 2010

Book Musings: The Carbon Diaries

I once picked this book up and read the first twenty-odd pages at the Barnes and Noble at home. I didn't buy it then, but when I saw it on display at the Harvard Co-Op last week when I was spending all my money on books I took a second look.

The main character Laura-- whose name I just had to look up and I finished this yesterday-- lives in London (well just outside) in 2015 when the world is destroying itself and Carbon is on rationing. She's supposedly a hard-core girl, in a punk band, just trying to get by.

I couldn't connect connect with her at all. She was very much a character "trying to be a teenager" in a cautionary tale. She's whiny, and I think we're not in her head enough, even though it's a diary. She rarely feels, making it hard to understand her. The world felt too far from ours to exist only five years (six at time of publication) hence. Her romance at the end felt too sudden, too "oops, need to give her a new boy" but what I think killed it for me the most was how absolutely absurd her parents were.

There are negligent parents all over YA. In a story dealing with the damage wrought on the present by past generations, yes there will be a little bashing of that generation. But her parents-- all the adults-- were so outlandish that I had trouble accepting the rest of the world because of them. They raised pigs, joined cults, drove fruit wagons. They were completely oblivious to both of their daughters until the very end of the novel and had pointless traits-- the mom was from New York but only to give Laura cousin there who she could write too and see how much better off they had it and explain Briticisms.

The ephemera in the novel is also printed with incredibly small text, and made the read less complete for me because I couldn't make it out. It was about two hundred pages too long too, a danger of diary books.

The idea is good, but the follow through? Not so much.


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