Eve of Man by Giovanna Fletcher and Tom Fletcher: Book Review

Hi everyone, I just wanted to write a quick preface to this review because I wanted to try something a little different and make these reviews a bit more structured. That way I think it will make it easier for people to skip to the information they’d like to know about and it will make sure I’m not missing anything out! Be sure to let me know what you think in the comments.

I’d also like to take a second to apologise for the lack of posts the last few weeks. Honestly, I’ve been really struggling with writing content that I’ve felt engaged with recently and alongside having a bit of a dip myself mentally I just needed a little break. I also had a little Instagram break as well to see if that helped boost me up a little. I’m not sure how exactly it made me feel but it did make me delve a little deeper into how social media can affect me.

I’ve been appalled at the lack of books I’ve been reading recently so made it my mission to read something this month and a few people recommended to me Eve of Man. I actually received some great suggestions, which I want to get to in the coming months but it made me determined to try and write at least one book review or book related post a month. I’d also like to focus on finishing some of my writing projects (aka a novel) outside of this blog so I may not be able to post as often as I like sometimes.

But for now let’s just get on with this review…

Blurb

This is actually the preface to the book but it is freely available from the Penguin website so I’ve copied it here.

On the first day no one really noticed. Perhaps there was a chuckle among the midwives at the sight of all those babies wrapped in blue blankets, not a pink one in sight. Individual hospitals would’ve thought nothing of it. They wouldn’t have known that this day of blue was only the beginning.

On the second day they frowned, confused, at another twenty-four hours of blue.

Just boys.

How baffling. Still, they assumed it was nothing more than coincidence. The Y chromosome was just making more of an appearance than usual.

On the third day, the media made light of it ‒ It Really Is A Man’s World. That brought the situation to everyone’s notice. Doctors and nurses realized theirs wasn’t the only hospital to go blue. Blue was taking over. Not just entire hospitals, not just entire countries, but the entire world.

Where had the pink gone?

With approximately two and a half million babies born each week, half of whom were usually girls, the sudden imbalance couldn’t be ignored. World leaders were called together with the most respected scientists to try to understand what was happening and discuss measures they could take to monitor the situation. They had to find an ethical way of working– they didn’t want to strip people of their human rights. That was what they said.

Initially.

At first it was a phenomenon, but soon it was threatening the survival of humanity, leaving us all on the brink of extinction. That was when governments stopped being nice. When women became more controlled and oppressed than ever before.

Compulsory tests were carried out. To start with, pregnant women were screened to identify the sex of their unborn children. Then, as more time passed with no females born, all women under the age of fifty were examined in an attempt to determine the cause of the blue generation.

Sex was encouraged – those in power wanted lots of babies in the hope that the odds would eventually favour girls. And there were girls – they were spotted in utero, bouncing around in the amniotic fluid and nudging their mummies with their flailing arms and legs.

Not one survived.

Eventually those cases disappeared. There was no pink to be seen . . . or lost.

Science battled for years. And years. And years. No cause was found. There was no breakthrough. Without a cause there could be no cure. The future of humanity was ticking away with the biological clocks of any remaining fertile women.

They would never give up, the world was told. They would save the human race. Somehow.

And the people played their part. They prayed. Prayed to many gods to grant them rebirth of their kind. For a long time it seemed no one was listening. The people prayed harder, for longer, calling on different all-powerful beings with urgency. They unearthed old religions, forged new ones, and muttered their worshipful chants with longing.

Then, after a fifty-year female drought, a miracle happened – and it didn’t occur in a sterile science lab.

Corinne and Ernie Warren had been married for twenty-five years. They’d always wanted children but it seemed Mother Nature wasn’t on their side. Corinne suffered miscarriage after miscarriage until eventually the couple gave up their dream to become parents. She was struck off as a potential carrier when she was forty-three. They accepted the failure with much sadness and a hint of relief. They’d been beaten down by grief so many times. They were broken, but at least they had each other to cling to.

At fifty-one, eight years later, Corinne unexpectedly fell pregnant. Naturally. She and Ernie were thrilled, but full of fear. What if this baby was taken from them like all the others? They couldn’t face another miscarriage.

Like every woman, Corinne was screened – but, unlike other women, she and Ernie welcomed the tests. They wanted to be sure their baby was fit and healthy ‒ they wanted to do all they could to ensure the safe arrival of the little being they already loved so much and for whom they would do anything.

Their hearts leapt when they saw their creation stretching on the ultrasound. Their baby. Their joy. For the midwife dealing with Corinne, the screening process had become routine – a monotonous series of tests with invariably the same outcome. She didn’t expect to see anything but blue.

But there it was.

Pink.

And her appearance made quite an impact.

It caused a panic. The result in that examination room sent shockwaves of hysteria rippling around the globe. People couldn’t believe that good news had come at last. They were longing to be told more about the couple who offered them a glimmer of light.

But Corinne’s medical history of miscarriages, her age and the fact that no girls had survived in utero for decades was a cause for concern. Corinne and Ernie were moved into a specialized medical facility to maximize the chances of the pregnancy going full-term. Other than daily scans, no tests were carried out. This time Mother Nature was allowed to take her course – at least until there was any reason to interfere. Perhaps it was time to trust the human body again.

Corinne and Ernie understood the need for monitoring their baby’s development and the desire to keep their daughter safe. They welcomed the medical advice. They were happy their child was as special to others as she was to them. She had to be kept safe. They didn’t resent the restrictions placed on them. Or that they were allowed no visitors at all. They agreed they’d do whatever it took to bring their baby safely into the world.

There were complications in the delivery room. Mother and daughter were left fighting for their lives. Corinne died soon after giving birth, having fulfilled her life’s ambition to become a mother.

Ernie was grief-stricken, unable to deal with the loss of his wife. Incapable of being a father.

He never held his daughter.

Never kissed her.

Never told her he loved her.

And what of the baby girl?

The world had waited for her arrival with bated breath, longing for the news that their hopes had been realized, that their girl had been born.

She had.

Against all odds, she survived.

She was the first girl born in fifty years.

They called her Eve.

She represented the rebirth of the human race. She was the answer to their prayers. She was all they cared about, their final hope.

Eve was the saviour of humanity.

I am Eve.

Judging a book by its cover (cover review)

The cover for me screamed that this was a futuristic story from the simplistic but punchy design to the dark colours used in the background. However, the lines just at the bottom that read ‘How do you choose between love and the future of the human race?’ show this is a story that isn’t content with just letting the cover do the talking and felt more needed to be said. The circular design in the middle remained me of the cover of Florence Welch’s new book which also has a cut out section with a design underneath though that is a square. I’m not sure if this is a trend I’ve missed or a new trend but I thought it interesting to note. The ‘e’ on this cover also is intriguing for those who don’t what the story is about because of the use of the symbol used to represent femininity.

This honestly, isn’t my favourite type of cover simply because the colour palette or style doesn’t draw me in. I think however after reading the novel that the cover does a good job of being symbolic of the writing style and the novel’s contents.

Eve of Man

Review (not spoiler free)

I had high hopes for this novel after receiving lots of positive reviews from my friends and I’ll preface that for the most part I enjoyed this. I’ll also by picking up the other two books in this trilogy when they’re released (if you’re not a aware this book is the first in a trilogy). The writing style was easy to follow and I loved having the dual perspectives of Eve and Bram throughout the story. Sometimes, having multiple viewpoints in a novel can be redundant or even confusing but this never felt unnecessary to me and really helped fuel the romantic elements of the story. My friend actually said she preferred Eve’s chapters due to liking Giovanna’s writing style more. In fact, I preferred Bram’s chapters because I found that part of the story more interesting because you get to see a lot of possible future plot points.

I think the main issues I had with the novel was personal preference to be honest. The idea was so interesting that I just wanted more but from a slightly more adult view. Though, some things I think would have still have a place in a Young Adult novel, like, for example if it was more freeing to be homosexual in this society or if a desire for female offspring in fact made it worse. The novel does in fact feature men kissing when they’re out of the tower and in the real world but no further detail is gone into.

I hope in future novels as well that they delve into the narrative and show that they men they portray as sexually frustrated and are just expected to assault Eve is a product of  values they’ve been taught and conditioned (and how that’s not acceptable).

I also think the story would have more interesting if Eve was not your stereotypical Young Adult heroine. What would have happened to the story if she was homosexual? Transsexual? Or simply not conventionally attractive? Imagine all that expectation being the youngest female on the planet (and regarded as essentially the only female) and you don’t meet the physical expectations of the masses.

However, this is a love story through and through. Hence, why each chapter is penned by one half of a married couple and each character resembles their real life counterpart. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s relatable to a lot of people but to me it just reminded me a little of all the parts of Young Adult fiction I could never relate to.

Serious issues are however brought up. How could they not considering the subject matter? The whole novel in a way toys on the edge of whether IVF itself is natural considering the fact that it appears to be ‘love’ and ‘mother nature’ that brought Eve into the world, which I’m sure is not what the authors intended and might need to be clarified a little bit into future novels.

Eve’s name is of course biblical in origin but I also wonder if Bram is referring to Abraham, a key figure in the bible. Please correct me if I’m wrong here but from what I’ve read Abraham is guided by God to leave the house of his father and settle in a new land. Perhaps, there is some reflections to be made then considering the content of the novel.

Overall, like I’ve mentioned a lot of criticisms I have my be a little unfair for the novel’s category as it’s aimed at a younger readership. However, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t tackle complex ideas or big themes – I just wish it had pushed the envelope that tiny bit further.

This novel is also just got too interesting a concept for me to put it down. However, I keep wondering all the way through; if she’s the only female are the rest of the human race to be born out of incest? That I’m still not sure of so if you can clarify please go ahead!

Rating 

3/5 – ‘enjoyable, gripping but I was hoping for a bit more’

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April (April is the Cruellest Month)

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Book review: Ready to Fall by Marcella Pixley

I am more than a little bit late with my review of this book (this book was published in the UK on March 15th) but my life has been very hectic recently so I didn’t have time to properly sit down and finish this book till now.  I also just want to quickly mention at the start before I start this review that I was very kindly set my copy of the book by the book’s publishers*.

The plot of the book is as follows:

Following the death of his mother, Max Friedman comes to believe that he is sharing his brain with a tumour. As he becomes focused on controlling the malignant tenant, he starts to lose touch with his friends and family, and with reality itself – so Max’s father sends him off to the artsy Baldwin School to regain his footing.

Soon, Max has joined a group of theatre misfits in a steam-punk production of Hamlet. He befriends Fish, a girl with pink hair and a troubled past, and The Monk, a boy who refuses to let go of the things he loves. Max starts to feel happy, and the ghosts of his past seem to be gone for ever.

But the tumour is always lurking in the wings – until one night it knocks him down, and Max is forced to face the truth.

-Mild spoilers ahead. There are no big plot spoilers here but I usually keep my reviews almost spoiler free so I wanted to flag-

I’ll start by saying that it took a bit of warming up too but I did enjoy parts of this novel. It reminds me a lot of books I would devour as a teenager. After all, who doesn’t dream of going to an artsy school where the teachers are cool and there are loads of quirky characters. I think this is also my main issue with the book, it feels very much like what you expect a novel for teenagers to read like – it’s basically screaming no one understands you if you’re quirky! This isn’t a bad thing, and there is books I love that apply the same techniques (*cough, cough, John Green*); however, there is still a uniqueness to the writing style that this lacks.

Don’t get me wrong there is real heart within the novel. The bits of the writing that truly resonated with me and managed to cut through the teen novel stereotypes where the parts where Max discusses his relationship with his mother, father or grandfather. The way Max’s grief is depicted felt raw and honest and kept me going with the novel, even when other parts grated with me a little.

I also loved the advice in the creative writing class about use of the 3rd person instead of 1st in certain instances, as it pinpointed an issue I’d had when reading my own writing and others in the past but couldn’t quite put my finger on. It even has influenced the direction I want to go in terms of my own novel, highlighting why I will always love reading – there is also something new to be discovered.

The characters in the novel I may not wholeheartedly love as much, but I was not completely uninvested in them – I just thought they could be a little more. Fish, the main love interest of the novel for example, very easily falls under the ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl’ stereotype. However, I have always felt two-fold about these characters. Yes, they are often used almost as a prop for the male characters to project all the angst onto and ultimately to ‘save’ them, but they are often the best, more empowered and memorable characters. Fish is somewhere in-between, she is strong and resilient in the way she strives to confront her own emotions and helps others too as well; however she doesn’t completely shake the idea that she exists purely to help Max through his pain.

In regards, to Fish, her past relationship with Monk also wasn’t really explained enough for me to invest in it. I could understand why Max didn’t seem that fazed by getting in the middle of it. However, at the same time I’ve witnessed relationships like that where you’re always aware of a small spark between two people existing, but deep down they both needed to just let each other go because they just don’t work (it would have been nice for more detail of the ways Monk and Fish didn’t work).

Another part of the novel that didn’t sit right with me was the way in which Max was repeatedly drawn to Fish’s self harm scars. Self harm scars are not something anyone should be ashamed of or feel they have to hide; but it felt like the novel was implying that was something almost romantic about them. Especially by the way Max obsessively went back to them again and again.

Overall, while I definitely had issues with this novel; something about it made me not want to stop reading. The novel had sparks of greatness in the way it treated grief and mental illness; I just wanted that little bit more from the characters.

*To be clear I was not paid for this review, which I think may be obvious may be its content.

April (April is the Cruellest Month)

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P.S. SPOILER AHEAD

Max’s creative writing teacher, Dr Cage was completely in the wrong in regards to what happened at the restaurant. You shouldn’t drink in front of a pupil full stop, especially not to the extent where you’re a bit too drunk to notice that said pupil is taking massive gulps from your drink.

Reviewing Youtuber books: Emma Blackery ‘Feel Good 101’

For those of you who don’t know already, I’m still what I would describe as fairly new to Youtube. I remember my sisters when they were younger (and still today to a certain extent) enthusing over their favourite Youtubers, and they even went to Summer in the City (while my mum and I strolled around London doing touristy things). But, I just never really got into the Youtube phenomenon in the same way they did. I only went to Youtube to listen to music and watch music videos- I also had seen the occasional viral video from there (but still far less than anyone else). A year or so ago however I decided to actually start to check out some more channels, as Youtube was now everywhere. To be honest, I’m not really sure who I first subscribed to but I think one of the first Youtubers I watched was grav3yardgirl through a recommendation from a friend, along with Zoella (if you’re British you just cannot not watch Zoella or escape her- don’t worry Zoella lovers I’m not slating her).

It did not take long before I became completely obsessed. As not only is there some amazing content out there but Youtubers and the way fans interact with them is something I also find fascinating from an academic perspective. We also live in a place now where people’s careers can be Youtube, and consequently recently there has been more and more controversy about sponsorship, affiliate codes and how much Youtubers earn. At the same time revenue from videos has decreased, and videos are becoming monetised less and less (and disturbingly a lot of videos with LGBTQ+ also became restricted). It’s not surprising then that a lot of youtubers have also brought out their own collaborations or products not only as a source of extra revenue, but because it’s something their passionate about and because their supporters want it.

When brands saw these ranges go well, suddenly they were everywhere. But with popularity becomes controversy. Zoella’s debut novel may have been the bestselling debut novel ever, but it has been accused of affecting literacy levels, and more famously there was a massive controversy about the book being ghost written. Emma Blackery then in reaction to the outpour of Youtuber books initially hated the idea. However, with time she changed her mind, and felt that if those books made people happy, how could she get angry about that?

For those of you who don’t know Emma Blackery is a Youtuber and musician, who rose to fame initially for a series on her Youtube channel when she read out pieces from 50 shades of grey and critiqued the novel. Although, those videos eventually got taken down due to copyright claims; Blackery continued to make comedy videos and again went viral with her video ‘My Thoughts on Google +’. Recently, she released this book I’m about to talk about, and the artwork for her EP Magnetised was featured on Apple’s Keynote for the iPhone 8 and X.

However, let’s get onto the book. From the get go it’s obvious this book’s target audience is teenagers, which since that is generally considered to be the largest viewership group for Youtubers that’s hardly a shock. Plus, I picked it up in the teenage fiction section in Waterstones so if that doesn’t clue you in I don’t know what will.

Emma Blackery

Therefore, if you’re in your early twenties some of the advice and stories in this book, although they may help you reflect; are going to come a bit late for you. ‘The Brain Stuff’ section however is relevant whatever your age. We all need reminding sometimes to take better care of ourselves and look after our mental health- this book then is something that can be there when you’re feeling down and need that motivational reminder (without feeling like you’re being lectured to).

Also, for fans of Blackery there is no denying she wrote this book. It sounds and feels like she talks, which you’ll know if you’ve ever seen any of her videos. I can already predict how the audio book will sound in my head just from reading it. Prose wise this is not supposed to be something that is hard to follow, so it isn’t, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

The section ‘Sex Talk’ is another highlight, especially for teenagers considering how sexuality and consent (at least when I had sex education) were not talked about properly in schools. I also like the way in which she talked about being able to categorise her feelings with the label ‘squish’  (a crush but without sexual desire) helped. I know a lot of people argue now that sexuality labels have ‘gone too far’ and are ‘redundant’, but when you live in a society that is so quick to categorise and define you, not having that definition available for you, for many people makes them think there is something wrong with them. Yes, in an ideal world it wouldn’t matter, and it’s nice that you don’t see gender (I’m going to be honest I think there are very few people who think this way just because the effect from society is so strong), but does that mean you should slate on something that helps other people? No, surprisingly, it doesn’t.

I also appreciated how Blackery made sure not to leave anyone out from the sexuality spectrum, including those who are assexual. While there was no talk about questioning your gender (from what I can remember, apologises if there is); Blackery cannot be expected to talk about everything (though I will admit maybe she should have explicitly stated this). She made it clear she was just talking about her experiences, and what she knew (that’s why in the back of the book there is helplines for people more specialised in that subject area).

I have always as well felt like honest experiences help more than well meant, but often misleading advice. Although, in one way I wish I could have read this in my teenage years; there was some chapters such as ‘Sex Talk’ that would not have applied, as Emma’s problems came from problems with crushes, and that would have involved me actually becoming involved in that area of my life.

The ‘Education (and making the most of it)’ section of the book is going to be painful for anyone who has gone to university. I don’t mean this as a disservice to Blackery, I mean it in the sense that the job market nowadays is hard (see my post Post University Panic for more) though I do think some of Emma’s CV tips are well worth taking a look at.

Overall, the book is half memoir, half advice. A quick guide to help you along in your teenage years by someone who can actually remember them. Not to say that’s its not still useful if you’re past twenty. The mental health section is definitely a must read (and as I mentioned there are also helplines at the back of the book to help with a variety of different issues). The book shows that Emma cares about her fans, and wanted to write something they could appreciate but would also hopefully be useful for them. That is something I can definitely respect.

So will I be reading sections of this again? Definitely. Do I regret buying this Youtuber’s book? No. And I think if you take anything from this review those two statements are definitely a good start.

The book is available to purchase from Waterstones, and Amazon (and I’m sure a variety of other places but those two are my favourite book buying sites). You can also get a audiobook of the novel from Audible.

I hope you enjoyed this post, and my future reading plans at the moment include ‘Secrets for the Mad: Obsessions, Confessions and Life Lessons’ by the Youtube sensation Dodie Clark (due out the 2nd November) and ‘The Rosewood Chronicles: Undercover Princess’ by Connie Glynn aka Youtuber, and cosplayer, Noodlerella (also out the 2nd November).

Let me know if there are any other Youtuber books (or products!) that you’d like me to review. I’d love to also do a Youtuber music series to accompany this as well, so drop me a line if that’s something you’d find interesting.

🍂April🍂

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