When her parents unexpectedly divorce, Mim Malone is dragged from her beloved home in Ohio to the ‘wastelands’ of Mississippi, where she lives in a haze of medication with her dad and new (almost certainly evil) stepmom.
But when Mim learns her real mother is ill back home, she escapes her new life and embarks on a rescue mission aboard a Greyhound bus, meeting an assortment of quirky characters along the way. And 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.
I received an eARC of Mosquitoland from Hachette Australia via NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Hmm, I had high hopes for this book and, unfortunately, it wasn’t as amazing as I thought it would be. I still really enjoyed the story and the characters but I had some problems with it that stopped me from giving it a 4+ star rating.
The writing is undeniably beautiful, but I found it to be a little bit purple prose-y. There were passages that were so unnecessarily descriptive and flowery that it was a bit awkward for me to read. I kept finding myself skimming through paragraphs of wordy descriptions and metaphors. At times, the writing was a bit disjointed for me and it made it hard for me to get through the book. It felt like the author was trying too hard to make the book deep and moving. Mosquitoland was not a page-turner for me. It felt a little bit draggy in parts and overall, the pace of the book was a bit too slow for my liking. I expected it to be a faster paced road trip book.
While I did like Mim’s character, I found her voice to be a lot older and mature than her age, which is 16. She was very quirky but she also seemed a little bit pretentious. I got a good sense of who she was through her voice, but I didn’t always believe that she was that person. Having said that, I did enjoy reading from her perspective and I liked that we got to see all of her flaws. Mim also acknowledges all of her flaws and learns from the experiences that she has.
I loved the character development in Mim. On her trip from Jackson, Mississippi to Cleveland, Ohio, she meets a lot of different people and each character she meets affects her in some way. Through her interactions with these people, she is able to reflect on the person she has been and think about the type of person she wants to be. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing her grow and use the experiences she’s had to become a better person. I also really liked that Mim starts of alone and not wanting to make friends, but slowly comes to realise that she doesn’t want to be without the people she meets along the way.
Do not underestimate the value of friends.
Mim ends up meeting two people on her journey who become the friends she has never had in her life. One of these two people is a boy who suffers from Down Syndrome and I appreciated that David Arnold included a disabled side character that we rarely see in YA. I ended up really liking these two side characters and I thought their friendship was beautiful. There is a little bit of romance in this book and I think it was just the right amount.
What I didn’t really like in this book were the mental illness elements. Mim at the beginning of the book has psychosis and is suspected of being schizophrenic. Her family has a history of mental illness and this comes up a lot in the book. I didn’t feel like this was completely necessary and I wish the author hadn’t explored mental illness. I think it would have been a much better book if Mim was just a normal girl going on a road trip to be reunited with her mother. The fact that Mim might be psychotic made me really wary as I read the book because I wasn’t sure if she was an unreliable narrator. Having said that, I thought the author did a great job of accurately representing psychosis and schizophrenia, so I applaud him on that.
Overall, I enjoyed the road trip aspect of the book and the character growth. I wasn’t a huge fan of the writing, the pace of the book, and the presence of mental illness. But I would still consider picking up a physical copy of the book.