Saturday, 18 February 2017

Life In A Fishbowl - Len Vlahos; Review

Book Details:
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children's (12th Jan 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1408870630
ISBN-13: 978-1408870631


Fifteen-year-old Jackie Stone is a prisoner in her own house. Everything she says and does 24/7 is being taped and broadcast to every television in America. Why? Because her dad is dying of a brain tumor and he has auctioned his life on eBay to the highest bidder: a ruthless TV reality show executive at ATN.

Gone is her mom's attention and cooking and parent-teacher conferences. Gone is her sister's trust ever since she's been dazzled by the cameras and new-found infamy. Gone is her privacy. Gone is the whole family's dignity as ATN twists their words and makes a public mockery of their lives on Life and Death. But most of all, Jackie fears that one day very soon her father will just be . . . gone. Armed only with her ingenuity and the power of the internet, Jackie is determined to end the show and reclaim all of their lives, even in death.

Links To Buy:


This suddenly popped up on my radar one day as I was on the prowl for my next book on GoodReads *as you do* and as soon as I read the blurb, I was like, I’VE GOT TO READ THIS. Which I assume is everyones natural reaction when they see the book is about this guy with a tumour who sells himself on ebay. Natural, right? 

Having finished the book, I felt all kinds of emotion and couldn’t even coherently jot my thoughts down for a review - it took some cajoling from the sensible side of my brain *pun intended* until I managed to put fat fingers to keypad and bring you this review. 

This book was something else entirely. With a plot that will sell you hook, line and sinker, and writing so well paced and gripping, I guarantee you won’t be able to put it down. I hadn’t even finished the book and I already recommended it to 3 different people. 

My favourite thing about the book, was the narration - it was split several ways, between the Dad (Jared) who has said tumour, his 15 year old daughter, a bunch of the people who bid for him in the auction - and my absolute favourite - the tumour itself, which is called Glio. Glio, after glioblastoma. So many puns man, so many puns. I found this narrative from the Glio totally riveting, exciting and original and a great idea to personify that tumour into a voice. Riveting, and also extremely sad and horrifying because I kid you not, there were moments as I read Glio’s parts where I wanted to cry - because the author cunningly shows us how this tumour which is living and breathing (and chomping it’s way though the Dad’s brain) actually stumbles across memories in the brain as the Dad is thinking them.. and then eats them. And I found that so sad. Beautifully done of course but still so sad. 

The entire concept was so refreshing for me to read, the way in which we have individual characters who bid for this guys life ON EBAY OF ALL THINGS - and their little backstory as to why they’re bidding. Needless to say, a certain bidder will stand out more than anyone *cough SHERMAN* given their desire to try the extreme sport of .. killing a human. I shan't say no more, you just really really REALLY need to read this. I like his character which is, as always going to make me sound psychotic but he really pushed the boundaries of human desire and personal entertainment and was very self aware of his cold-bloodedness rather than ignorant of his own ideals. 

Jackie, the 15 year old daughter, was a great character who encapsulated the idea of not giving up, of persevering in the face of all things wrong. Her rebellion and expose of what was really going on behind the rolling cameras and TV shows, the help and attention she garnered from the World of Warcraft group, was a commendable touch to link together the ideas and reality of reality TV, and online identities. I was fist pumping my way through her chapters, for everything she did, for standing up in every and any way she could and of course all the great background characters who help her *cough Jason Sanderson*. Here’s a quick snippet of one of my favourite scenes where I did the said fist pumping:

“Give me the phone, Jackie,” Ethan said. He was panting, too. “There’s nowhere else for you to go. It’s all over.”

Jackie looked straight into his eyes. “Almost,” she said. She saw the perplexed look on his face, then turned around and threw the phone over the fence. They both watched it tumble end over end against the night sky.

A second later, there was an exclamation of joy from the other side of The Wall. “I got it!” It was Jason Sanderson’s voice. He was exactly where Hazel said he would be. What Jackie didn’t expect to hear was the cheer that went up from the crowd that had gathered around him.

Jackie turned back to Ethan. “Now,” she said, “it’s over.”
Ethan dropped to his knees, then to his butt, and sat down on the grass as if he’d been shot. Jackie stepped around him and went back into the house.”

The final 10% of the book was so fast paced and brilliant - my heart almost fell out my ass. Like seriously you need to keep your eyes glued to the page as you stumble through the final chapters of this because it all happens so fast, a good fast, to make you grip that book so tightly in your hand that the pages sweat. And omg, trying not to be spoileryyy as always but - the scene with the bathroom and the slap. BRAVO. And the pillow scene? Total lump in my throat. 

This was in no way a light hearted read - but covered euthanasia as its base, and we see the different perspectives of the individuals who bid for Jared, and what they think about life and preservation. Not going to wade into this with my thoughts on euthanasia, but I felt like this issue was taken seriously in the book, and portrayed just as seriously and well balanced to show the opposing ideas about life and euthanasia. It was really well done and doesn’t seem like it will be ruffling any feathers. Each to their own - and the author has wonderfully shown this through the different characters and their beliefs. 

This book managed to make me laugh and cry, which is always a sign of a good book. So well written and with brilliant characters and a storyline to grip you right from the first page, to the very very very last. This is going in one of my favourites list and definitely one of the better books I have read in 2017 and for this very reason, one you need to read to. 

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