#BookReview - Soot by Andrew Martin

York, 1799.

In August, an artist is found murdered in his home - stabbed with a pair of scissors. Matthew Harvey's death is much discussed in the city. The scissors are among the tools of his trade - for Harvey is a renowned cutter and painter of shades, or silhouettes, the latest fashion in portraiture. It soon becomes clear that the murderer must be one of the artist's last sitters, and the people depicted in the final six shades made by him become the key suspects. But who are they? And where are they to be found?

Later, in November, a clever but impoverished young gentleman called Fletcher Rigge languishes in the debtor's prison, until a letter arrives containing a bizarre proposition from the son of the murdered man. Rigge is to be released for one month, but in that time, he must find the killer. If he fails, he will be incarcerated again, possibly for life.

And so, with everything at stake, and equipped only with copies of the distinctive silhouettes, Fletcher Rigge be…

Book Review - The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness




Not everyone has to be the Chosen One is the premise of Patrick Ness' latest YA novel. Instead of focusing on the likes of Harry Potter or Katniss Everdeen, The Rest of Us Just Live Here is about ordinary teens who are more concerned with getting through day to day life than with saving their school.
Each chapter begins with a short paragraph outlining what the indie kids - the Finns, Satchels and Kerouacs - are dealing with. They are up against The Immortals and it's a life or death battle. We are just given a glimpse of this though as the real story is about Mikey, his sister, Mel, their friends Henna and Jared and new boy, Nathan.  Occasionally their lives clash with the indie kids but they are content to let them deal with whatever the latest threat is while they contend with their own battles - OCD, anorexia, love, anxiety, parents...
The Rest of Us Live Here though is not an issues book. Mikey is struggling to cope with his compulsions but they are not all his character is. The book is more nuanced than that, it's moving and perceptive but also funny and clearly affectionate about books featuring One True Hero.
Ultimately I think it's Patrick Ness' love letter to young people. It's telling them they are important, that feeling insignificant doesn't mean they are insignificant and their problems may not be the sort that risk the lives of all humankind but they still matter. It's saying that adults remember more than teenagers might think but have also probably forgotten more than they (the adults) realise and most importantly it's a reassurance that things don't have to stay the same. Things will change, it can get better, not in a patronising "and they all lived happily ever after" type way but hang in there, it won't always feel like this.
Not everyone has to be the Chosen One but (and I apologise in advance for this pun) I hope this book is one chosen by many people. (I'll get my coat now, you go and buy the book.)

The Rest of Us Just Live Here is published in the UK by Walker Books

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