Before 2020 finally ends, I really want to share my review for Mosquitoland. I’ve been turning out reviews very very slowly these last couple of months, so instead of working on the other book’s that have now piled up on me, I wanted to focus on a book that is still incredibly fresh in my mind.
Trigger Warning! This book discusses topics such as suicide and other issues concerning mental health
947 miles, that’s the distance separating Mim from her mom.
After her parents divorce, sixteen year old Mary Iris Malone better known as Mim, is dragged along to live in Jackson, Mississippi with her dad, a choice she really didn’t have a say in. As if life couldn’t get any worse, her mother’s letters have stopped coming and she can’t seem to reach her over the phone. After accidentally overhearing that her mother is sick, Mim sets her mind to make the trip out to see her.
As Mim makes her way to Cleveland her trip threatens to fall apart at every wrong turn and with only her backpack of supplies, a coffee can full of stolen money, and her journal, the likelihood that she will reach her destination before Labor Day grows less and less likely.
Mosquitoland for me sits perfectly in the middle, it is not like an amazing revolutionary story that makes me want to tell everyone I know about it but it is also not terrible.
The biggest problem that I have with this book is that I really expected it to be so much better than it was.
I had picked it from a list that popped out in my search results for “YA books with great first lines.” There was only one other book that caught my attention from this list, The First Time She Drowned, which I read around mid 2020, and I absolutely loved it. (You can read my review for it here.)
Basically it raised the bar so high that I assumed Mosquitoland would be equally as good. Not to mention, it had the same sort of feel to it that The First Time She Drowned had or at least that was the impression I got from reading the summary. So, I was a little more than disappointed that, that was not the case.
After sort of letting the ending sink in for a few days, I came to the realization that the book was actually an average read with some good moments and that my disappointment was coloring my overall opinion of the whole thing.
When it comes down to why Mosquitoland was so disappointing for me, perhaps the biggest factor was just Mim’s character overall.
Initially Mim shows great potential for growth, she is going on a journey of self discovery after all. The problem is, that while she learns some difficult truths along her journey, there seems to be very little internal reflection going on.
Well into the middle of the book I started to get the impression that Mim thinks she’s better than everyone she’s ever met. The fact that she ends off in that same like pretentious “I’m wise beyond my years” attitude is why I absolutely did not like the ending.
While I recognize that trauma can often make kids realize more about the world around them and in essence make them smarter or more aware of their surroundings than other kids their age, Mim is a bad example of this. Instead she just comes off as pretentious and her little monologues about her philosophies on the world just seem insincere and I couldn’t really connect with her on a personal level.
To me it seems like this book is sort of trying to be this coming-of-age fountain of wisdom, but it just didn’t hit the mark.
I will say though, this is the first book that I’ve read as a 24 year old adult, that is YA and that after finishing it, I was incredibly aware that it was not written for me.
Young me was incredibly impressionable and I think that if I had read this book back when I was actually a young adult reading YA, this review would be much different (speaking for teen me not all teens!). I think that I would have actually seen Mim’s personal philosophies as wisdom and I would have enjoyed this book more.
Despite the bad I still found some redeeming things about this book.
In the past I have said that it is possible to follow a good character through a bad plot, the same can be said the other way around too. While I do think the characters were all a bit lacking, I was still invested in the plot. I really wanted to know where Mim’s journey would take her.
Also, one thing I did like about the ending was the plot twist. To keep this review spoiler free I won’t give details, but there is a plot twist and though it didn’t happen exactly how I expected it to, it was nice to see that not everything was what it seemed.
The slight twist is enjoyable for me personally because throughout the story we see this side of Mim that is very set in her ways. She has developed this attitude that is almost arrogant, again it’s almost like she thinks she’s better than everyone else and only she knows the inner workings of the world. So, when she is essentially shown that there are some things she just doesn’t know, it rattles her. And, it’s not that I want bad things for Mim but this moment was a very real life type of moment.
In my opinion, when you are a teenager you are too young to have your mind made up about how you are going to perceive the world. Things happen especially in your teenage years that drastically change how you see things and these are great opportunities for growth, so I’m glad that Mim experienced.
It makes me wonder about the aftermath of Mim’s journey. And, the fact that I want more story is proof enough that the book is still very much enjoyable. If a sequel came out, I would definitely check it out.
Lastly, I just want to mention how great the writing style Mosquitoland is written in is. I think that the writing alone would motivate me to check out David Arnold’s other books, as this is the very first I’ve read by him
Three out of five stars to Mosquitoland. While I would still recommend this book I do think it would be more enjoyable for teens.
P.S I think this will be my last review of 2020 so I sincerely hope everyone has a great rest of the year and see you in the new year!
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