The Backstory - Spoiler Free
Twelve year old girl Mila is said to have a gift. When i first read this I thought it genuinely meant some sort of super power, but as it turns out, she is just super observant. She can look into a person's soul, and she can tell from their body language, or from the way they stand, if they're having an affair, or pregnant, or happy or sad.
At the beginning, she is all set up and ready for a trip to America with her dad, where they are due to meet an old friend of his. However, just before they leave they get a call telling them that the old friend has gone missing! Oh no! Despite this, they head over to America all the same, to see them.
Mila uses her skills in observation, (her gift) to track down more and more clues as to where is whereabouts may be. She finds out interesting secrets along the way, about the friend, and about her own dad, and his past with the friend. But as it says in the blurb: Is the answer closer than she could ever imagine?
Despite this kind of backstory, it is not exactly a detective or crime fiction book, so be warned of that. It is more of a look into relationships and how people work than anything else, although the plot is still thrilling to read through, and keeps your interest easily.
How was is written?
If I was asked to compare it to one of Meg Rosoff's other books, it is similar in writing style to 'How I Live Now'. I say this mainly because she doesn't use speech marks or the usual punctuation. Some people in other reviews I have read find this idea disconcerting an a little confusing.
I see it completely differently. Someone said to me, once: "Why is a lack of correct grammar at all clever?". I shook my head at their lack of imagination. It suits both books very well. I'm not going to go into depth on How I Live Now as I'm sure I will get round to reviewing that separately at some point, but with this is fits the story well, because the book is written deeply as Mila would see it, and tell it.
It is first person like many of Meg Rosoff's books, but this time you are reading exactly what Mila is thinking at the time. And the lack of speech marks helps blur the difference between out-loud speaking and Mila's thoughts on things, and other people. So this effect really helps with the overall feel of the book.
I've also heard criticism that Mila sounds too grownup for a twelve year old. It is true that she does sound very mature, but I don't think she sounds unrealistically so. We must remember how observant she has grown up being, and also that she has grown up with older parents, so is going to see things in a slightly more adult manner, as that's what she's developed with.
The voice of the character is repetitive in many ways: Mila speaks in lots of similar sentences. She also talks about events in the past that don't link to the plot, but help us understand her more. I think it works really well, as it's told so believably.
Was there anything you didn't like?
If I had any criticism's with this one, (which is hard, the author is one of my favorite's!), it would be that in some cases Mila's voice does tend to drone ever so slightly. She goes on in a sort of monotone voice, and there are not very many question or exclamation marks in her speech, or in fact the speech of others.
At times this made it a little hard to concentrate fully, as it was a little ongoing, and dead. However I do not see this fully as a bad thing as it was her character. That's just my thoughts!
Would you recommend it?
Hell yeah! I really enjoyed this book. I would recommend the author as a whole anyway, never mind just this one. Mila's story brought back an observance I think a lot of us can lose if we don't think about it very often. Also, despite the fact it is an intelligent book, it is not hard to read, and it's enjoyable. It has several darker meanings and twists, but is far from sick-lit, and I didn't feel at all depressed about reading it, when it reached the end, like you can with other novels!
Thank you for reading my review of Picture Me Gone, written by Meg Rosoff :-) I hope you enjoyed it!