Monday, January 28, 2013

Review: The Death of Bees (O'Donnell)

January has not been a good month.  And I have plenty of thoughts rolling through my head, but I'm also exhausted.  So, I'll catch up on a review instead:

The book (provided by the publisher) opens with fifteen year-old Marnie and her younger sister, Nellie, burying their parents.  This is a difficult task, but not a particularly sad one since the parents varied between being neglectful and abusive.  The novel follows the girls as they try to stay under the radar until Marnie turns sixteen, the age at which she can legally be her sister's caretaker in their native Scotland.  Marnie has worked with (and had sex with) a known drug dealer and would be easily labelled a delinquent except for the fact that she's never struggled to be a strong student. Nellie is undiagnosed but likely has some form of learning difference.  She also speaks in some variant of "the Queen's English."  The girls both narrate in turns, along with a concerned neighbor (known on the tough block for having solicited a teen boy in a park) who becomes a surrogate caretaker. 

This was a quick read, although it can't really be called an "easy" book.  There are many topics that might turn-off some readers including drugs and sex, both involving young teens.  There is also a constant sense of love and loyalty, between the sisters and within Marnie's crew of friends.  I think that is really the true theme of the book, love in unexpected places and with atypical faces.

Some authors attempt the multiple narrator concept only to have the voices blend, that never happens here and O'Donnell does a great job of crafting distinct voices.  I loved reading Nellie's voice, but it would definitely have been too much as a sole narrator.  The voices are definitely the book's strength.  At times, I felt like it got too gritty...not in the sense that it was offensive (it WAS disturbing, but it is meant to be) but it felt like the author just kept adding more for the sake of more.  There are also moments intended as comic relief that didn't really mesh for me, like the dog tearing up pieces of the parents' graves. 

Three and a half to four stars, depending on where my mind is focusing at that moment.  Clear writing talent and recommended just for watching the voices work.


Colorado Springs Boiler Service said...

Thanks for including content in your review. I appreciate this information. I have read several reviews of this book and none mentioned it. I think I will skip this title.

San Antonio Local SEO said...

Funny, pathetic, violent, compassionate, loving, courageous, and outrageous characters --all in one work What a work of art! Must read.