By Natasha Farrant, published by Faber.
Goodreads synopsis: Bluebell Gadsby is 13 but that’s the least of her problems. Both her parents seem more interested in their careers than the family, leaving Blue and her three siblings as well as their three pet rats (who may or may not be pregnant), in the care of Zoran the au pair. The enigmatic Joss moves in next door and Blue thinks she might be falling in love, until he takes out her older sister Flora instead (who, incidentally, is trying to make a statement by dying her hair bright pink but no one takes the blindest bit of notice). Blue thinks and feels very deeply about life but can’t really talk to anyone about it, because no one in the Gadsby family wants to address the real problem – that Blue’s twin sister, Iris, died a year ago, and they are all just trying to hide their grief in busyness…
So Blue turns to her diary and her unique way of seeing the world through her camcorder to express herself.
My review: After Iris was such a brilliant read! When I read the blurb after it arrived, I got kind of confused. It said Bluebell’s story was told through words and film. Film? In a book? Then I opened the book up and saw that all of Bluebell’s films were written up in transcripts, and were between every few diary-entry chapters- such a clever format! I really loved how it was written. Not only the unique format I’ve never seen before- but also the writing itself, crammed with emotion. Much of the story was quite sad, with the constant reminders of Iris that haunted Bluebell, and the writing was so full of raw emotion about that, and the rather shocking love story. Speaking of which- the plot was so unpredictable! Especially the love story that was woven into the plot. I expected a very basic romantic tale, where Bluebell would fall in love with Joss, the love interest, and then there would be a fight and then they’d get back together for a happy ending. I didn’t get that. what I got? A brilliant, complex romantic tale, where Bluebell fell in love with Joss, the love interest, but not all goes to plan and Blue’s sister has a large involvement and there wasn’t exactly the happiest of endings for that. But I loved that plot twist with Joss! It was so unpredictable.
The other aspects of the book were really great, too- I loved reading about Bluebell’s ‘invisible’ school life, and how she managed to get back at a bully, and I also really enjoyed reading about her frantic, very unique family and how they all dealt with Iris’s death in different ways. Everything was resolved really well- I loved the outcome. I think that the event at the ending, involving Blue’s little siblings, was really quite terrifying. When the story ended with them okay, I was so pleased- but that was solved a little crazily.
Bluebell was a really great main character, and I loved her throughout. She was so relatable- through the bullying incidents and the many issues at home- so made for a very realistic character. She had a very strong narration and I got to know her really well through her detailed diary entries and the things that she filmed on her camcorder. Bluebell had a really interesting, in-depth background, and her past was revealed little bit by little bit throughout the story, which was quite clever because it kept me reading because I wanted the full back story. I grew to love Bluebell so much, and I was so happy to read that this is the first book in a series- I will DEFINITELY be looking out for the sequel!
Overall, After Iris, was an emotional read, with its witty parts too. It was so well written, in a totally unique format that I really loved because it captured the essence of Blue’s family so effectively. Bluebell’s story was harsh at points, humorous and uplifting at others, and it’s really hard not to just fall in love with it. I honestly could not stop reading- this book is like a mixture of Cathy Cassidy’s contemporary masterpieces mixed in with the raw emotion from Annabel Pitcher’s equally amazing titles. Definitely recommended to young teenage girls, because they’ll definitely be able to relate to at least a small part of the story. I really can’t wait to read more of this series!
I received a copy of After Iris from the publisher, in exchange for a review. In no way at all did this affect my thoughts.