11 February 2013

Book Review: How We Met by Katy Regan

"There are some people you can’t imagine life without.

What, at the end of it all, is really important?

Liv and her friends can’t imagine a life different from now: freedom, lifelong friendships, and dreams that are still within their reach.

Then, Liv dies.

For those left behind – Mia, Fraser, Anna, Norm and Melody – everything stops. Their lives and dreams are frozen in time.

In the years that follow, they decide to meet on Liv’s birthday to raise a toast and celebrate her life, even though none of them are living their own – not really. Time marches inexorably on, and yet without Liv, the lynchpin of the group, they are all flailing. Mia and Fraser are quietly falling apart because of the secret they share and, as truths are unearthed and their friendships are tested to the limit, they have to ask themselves – is it time to get on with the business of actually living?"

Rating: 4/5

You can buy How We Met as a paperback or an eBook now.

I have read both of Katy Regan's first two novels, and really enjoyed them, therefore I was very pleased to get a review copy of her brilliant new title How We Met. I had heard that it was very different to both of her previous offerings, but that it was even more fantastic to read so when I started reading, I have to say that I had very high expectations. I confess that I am not a huge fan of the cover, it's a little bit boring for me and I don't like the colour scheme too much, but that's just a personal point, and I try not to let my opinion of book covers affect my judgment of whether or not I'll enjoy a book (although who doesn't judge a book by its cover just a tiny bit?!). Once I started reading though, I couldn't stop and here's why.

I found the book to be a lot sadder and more bittersweet than I was expecting. It's the story of a group of friends who are trying to get over or get through the grief of their friend Liv's sudden death. For a long time into the book, we don't actually know what happened to Liv and how she died, so when it was revealed, I was a bit surprised that that was the actual reason, I was perhaps expecting a little more of it?! Maybe that's just my fault but it felt like it had been built up and the reason in the end really wasn't what I was expecting at all. Liv is a character we really get to know through the flashbacks of her and mainly the way the other characters speak about her and remember her. There's her boyfriend, her best friend and the rest of their group, and they all paint different pictures of their friend.

The main two characters in the group were Mia and Fraser. Mia is a single mum to her baby, and is struggling balancing this new life alongside getting over the death of Liv at the same time. She feels guilty that her son is growing up in this way, and she did feel a little moany in parts, rather than just knuckling down and getting on with it like most people do, which stopped me fully warming to her in places. However, I felt Regan wrote her story really well, putting across Mia's confused feelings and insecurities as a mother perfectly, you could really feel her emotions along with her. Her character just seemed very lonely and lost, and it was quite sad to read her parts at times.

Fraser was Liv's boyfriend, and his story was actually quite interesting to read, because I just didn't know where it would end up, and how things would go for Fraser. I disliked some of his actions in the book, but you can feel how much he misses Liv, and as things go on, I found him to be more interesting and enjoyed the friendship he shared with Mia. The group as a whole were well brilliant - they were believable as friends, and I liked that Regan made their friendships flawed too so it was realistic, and felt like you were reading about a group of real people. The emotions in it felt very real, and you go from grief, to guilt to blame to loss and the importance of friendship, a real rollercoaster of a ride.

The pace of the book is quite slow but I felt it suited this book because it was so deeply about the feelings of the characters and how they dealt with their grief rather than whatever else was happening in the book. This was a really interesting book, and I found that I was really involved in the story and its character, and hoping for a happy ending for them all. It flitted about between the stories of all of the friends, but I didn't find it too hard to keep up, it kept the book moving and allowed the stories to fully develop. It was indeed very different to Regan's previous novels, but it was just as enjoyable, and its an emotional tale you can really enjoy. It has moments of humour, but is mainly quite a bittersweet novel, showing how you must take control of your life and live it to the full. I really enjoyed it, and would certainly recommend reading it.

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