Kids of Appetite by David Arnold / ★★★☆☆
One sentence summary: Vic runs away from home, taking his father’s urn with him, and meets a group of kids who help him unravel the mystery of where to scatter his ashes.
We are all part of the same story, each of us different chapters. We may not have the power to choose setting or plot, but we can choose what kind of character we want to be.
Genre: Young Adult/Contemporary
I was drawn to this book because it seemed quirky, but unfortunately it didn’t turn out to be the the kind of quirky I was looking for. As in, I found it to be a rather pretentious type of quirky, e.i. idiosyncrasies of character turned up to the max for Deeper Meaning, which is a style that tends not to gel with me. However, I found it a quick, mostly enjoyable and easy read. Kids of Appetite presents the plot in a nonlinear structure, and at the beginning we’re faced with a murder mystery that slowly unravels throughout the book. I liked the mystery, the themes of loyalty and fatherhood, and the religious undertones throughout this book.
I did begin to lose interest towards the end, and was turned off by the fact that it got a little preachy. Conversations got rambly at times and I wasn’t invested enough in the characters for it to invoke my full attention unless it contributed to the plot. I found the romantic plotline standard and uninteresting and began to skim the romantic scenes as they increased. I did wonder if I might have enjoyed this book more if I was a teenager, but my reading preferences weren’t so different then, and I had read books like this when I was younger and felt the same, so I don’t think it would have made much difference. This wasn’t a bad book, and I did like it, but overall it just didn’t match with my taste.
The story is told from the points of view of two characters, Vic and Mad. I liked them well enough on their own, but it was when they were brought together I lost interest. A lot of their scenes felt like hanging out with two people who are having a conversation that you’re not interested in, so you just sit there, waiting for a new topic to come up. I couldn’t stand Vic’s mooning over Mad’s utter perfection. I need some acknowledgement of flaws to get myself invested in a romance, or any type of relationship.
I did find Vic to be an interesting, likeable character on his own, and I liked the development of the insecurities shaped around his rare facial paralysis disorder, Moebius Syndrome, and how it contributed to his character.
I found the other three kids, Coco, Baz, and Nzuzi far more interesting. Had the book revolved more about them, particularly Baz and Nzuzi – two boys who escaped the violence in the Republic of Congo as children – I think I’d have found it a much more interesting story. Baz and Nzuzi were definitely my favorites.
But overall, I found the characters in this book to be a little too idiosyncratic to the point that I felt it was unrealistic at times. A bit too “everything has deeper meaning” for me. I don’t mind an occasional dose of heavy handedness, but with these characters it was just too much for me to connect with and immerse myself in.
I read this book quickly and easily, and for the most part I found the writing to be good. I did find that sometimes description became too much and conversation began to ramble. I wasn’t a huge fan of the obscure references and made up phrases the characters used. A different kind of reader than myself would probably find the prose to be a lot more poetic than I did.
Was I satisfied?
For the type of story this book turned out to be, overall I am. I didn’t quite expect it to play out the way it did, and I liked it how it ended. But my interest flagged at times and I didn’t walk away feeling extremely moved or anything. Kids of Appetite is just not my kind of book.