Title: Kids of Appetite
Author: David Arnold
Publication date: September 20th 2016
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Number of pages: 352
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Victor Benucci and Madeline Falco have a story to tell.
It begins with the death of Vic’s father.
It ends with the murder of Mad’s uncle.
The Hackensack Police Department would very much like to hear it.
But in order to tell their story, Vic and Mad must focus on all the chapters in between.
This is a story about:
- A coded mission to scatter ashes across New Jersey.
- The momentous nature of the Palisades in winter.
- One dormant submarine.
- Two songs about flowers.
- Being cool in the traditional sense.
- Sunsets & ice cream & orchards & graveyards.
- Simultaneous extreme opposites.
- A narrow escape from a war-torn country.
- A story collector.
- How to listen to someone who does not talk.
- Falling in love with a painting.
- Falling in love with a song.
- Falling in love.
It took me a while to write this review. Honestly, I considered not even writing one at all, but I felt I had to since this book continuously has gotten good reviews, and mine disagreed. (Yep. Unpopular opinion, here it comes.)
The novel opens with Vic, an angsty teen with “insightful views” of the world, being interrogated by the police about a murder he may or may not have witnessed. Throughout the story, we are brought back to the interrogation room for supposed buildup which actually leads to no where, as I didn’t get excited about the murder as I probably should have due to lack of suspense.
Vic himself is one of the narrators, and he is an odd duck. For example, Vic compares success to being a “Super Racehorse,” and people who weren’t successful weren’t considered racehorses. They were just…people. Vic’s family situation is an interesting one, as his father died of cancer and his mother immediately gets engaged to an undesirable boyfriend who happens to have two goth twin children who hate Vic. Vic runs out on the engagement announcement and steals his dad’s ashes, apparently planning on spreading them across the universe. Vic’s mother makes no effort to chase after him, and even though he goes AWOL for a few days, we hear nothing from her.
This was honestly one of the most unbelievable parts of the story was the lack of authority figures. It’s even prevalent in the way the police officers are written in the interrogation scenes. I don’t view them as real adults, because to me they sound like angsty teens themselves. I know in YA novels it’s easy to fall under the trope of my-parents-don’t-care-about-me-I-hate-all-adults-angst but you need to give me a reason why. Why doesn’t Vic’s mother, a woman apparently very close to Vic before and a little after his dad’s death, feel any kind of connection to her son? It can’t just be because of Mr. Undesirable Boyfriend. No, the subtext that was needed for the reason adults were not being adult-y severely lacked.
Meanwhile, the author tried too hard to mimic John Green or David Levithan and it backfired bigtime. Take a look at some of these excerpts.
The orchard reminded me of this: an old man’s youthful heart. -pg 103
I was about to ask what kind of kid carries around a change of clothes in their backpack when I realized I did, in fact, have my favorite sweatpants tucked away. –pg 102
But then Dad introduced me to Henri Matisse, an artist who believed each face had its own rhythm. -pg 24
Mad’s blond hair lashed around under that yellow knit cap, and in the white winter light, it looked like a fresh slice of lemon, or the tip of a sparkler at night. -pg 96
Still in the story, Vic pairs up with Mad and a group of her rebellious teen friends who have no parents and who live in an abandoned orchard/warehouse to generally have some Good Timesᵀᴹ. The group of friends includes a preteen girl, a teen who only speaks by snapping his fingers and jigging, the sort-of-parental leader who is fresh out of high school, and the love interest, Mad, who has a parent who also died of cancer. All of the characters seemed to be cliché stereotypes, and no background was really offered for any of them. This was about the time I stopped reading.
Honesty, this book seemed like a jumbled mess to me. I had high hopes, but it remains a DNF on my shelves.