Confession time: I have literally dozens of books on my Kindle that I downloaded on a whim because they seemed kind of interesting and were really cheap or in some cases even free. I’m honestly a little overwhelmed with the sheer volume of books available for Kindle. It’s a good thing, but it also makes it hard to parse all the information and find something that’s exactly what you’re looking for.
I often find with these free or cheap Kindle books that they end up being disappointing in one way or another. Mostly they seem to be badly edited, sometimes the writing is poor, and sometimes it’s just plain not a very good story. I keep buying them though, for the rare gem I find amongst them once in a while. Few things delight me more than discovering a great book I would normally not have come across.
Anyway, I’ve told myself that I’m not allowed to buy any more books until I’ve read at least a few of the ones I downloaded over the last year or so. Beatless was one of those.
This is a story about a teenage girl who is afraid to live her life, and then begins to. Nothing remarkable in that, perhaps, but it’s a well written story with plenty of warmth and humour. The story of being young and insecure, of being afraid to stand out and afraid to not stand out, feeling like an outsider, feeling like nobody cares, is probably recognisable to most.
I loved seeing Mallory develop and gain confidence and friends – take charge of her life. Both she and Tucker are properly fleshed out characters that I started to care about.
It’s easy to read and easy to get into – I was so absorbed that I almost missed my train stop.
I like the way music is woven throughout the story, and is something that helps Mallory both literally and figuratively find her voice. I feel like the writer has some music knowledge or at least a passion for music.
But, there were some bits that didn’t quite work for me…
I would have loved some more background story. Why were her parents shitty? Had they always been like that? Why was she so afraid and why did she not have any real friends (I mean I had my share – and then some – of teenage angst, but I still had friends)?
The secondary characters seem to only be there for filler. I remember that Berkley is a girl because it sounds like a boy’s name to me, but I wouldn’t be able to tell you anything about her. This was also the case for Mal’s parents – I mean I understand that part of the theme is being left behind by absent parents, but they could still have been given some identity, maybe by her thoughts or memories.
The secondary character problem is even the case to some extent for aunt Sam. When she came on the scene she was full of love, warmth and humour – encouraging Mal to go out and do stuff – she was basically the adult presence that Mal so sorely needed. Someone who saw her and cared about her. But quite quickly she melted into the background and became just an element in the plot. Again from the perspective of the story I understand why she lost her vibrancy etc., but it’s still unsatisfying as you don’t get a proper feel for the character.
The letters… Just didn’t work IMO. They were awkwardly placed at the end of each chapter, I guess as a way to still show some of Sam’s charater, but it honestly didn’t really. They seemed rushed, and filled with “generic life wisdom” from someone who is older and philosophises about these darn youngsters with their internets and their instagrams.
All that being said, I still really enjoyed this book and the writing. It feels like a very real portrait of being a teenager – where you’re angsty and self-absorbed but underneath all that actually a good person.
On a side-note: I find it really impressive that the author apparently has a full-time job, is a mother and still manages to write a damn book! I work part time, have no kids and can barely get it together enough to write a review of a book.. 😉