Mini Reviews #3 – Lullaby & Goodbye Stranger

October 20, 2015 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 2 stars, 3 stars, Books, Reviews

Mini Reviews #3 – Lullaby & Goodbye StrangerLullaby by Bernard Beckett
Published by Text Publishing on May 27, 2015
Source: Publisher
Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson
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Rene’s twin brother Theo lies unconscious in hospital after a freak accident left him with massively disrupted brain function. There is hope, though. An experimental procedure—risky, scientifically exciting and ethically questionable—could allow him to gain a new life.

But what life, and at what cost?

Only Rene can give the required consent. And now he must face that difficult choice.

But first there is the question of Rene’s capacity to make that decision. And this is where the real story begins.

Bernard Beckett's Lullaby is a confronting story of love, loyalty and identity.

Lullaby is a deep, thought-provoking book that will have you questioning life. By presenting a highly ethical and moral dilemma where Rene has the opportunity to save his comatose twin, it asks the following questions:

  • What does it mean to be you? Is it our memories, our DNA or our body?
  • Would you take the chance to save the person you love if it meant wiping out their very being?
  • Would you sacrifice the uniqueness of you for the greater good?

These are all questions that Rene needs to consider, as he’s being interviewed by a therapist to consider whether he’s mentally sound to make this life-changing decision. Rene will slowly come to terms with his brother Theo being gone and describes their past and deep bond with each other. The two are actors, with Theo being the more charismatic, artistic and gifted one. Rene has often lived in his shadow, looking up to him, but he’s always been the more sensible and pensive one.

The therapist was completely unprofessional at times and lost her wits during the book, which had me confused. Why is she working there if she doesn’t support the research? It also showed just how manipulative Rene could be. There were also some questions that were left unanswered by the end of the book, and the ending was quite open-ended. I don’t think the book should be restricted to a YA audience, due to its impactful ideas.

The whole book is written in a really haunting and thought-provoking way, building the intrigue for a major twist towards the end of the book. Best read in one sitting, Lullaby will have you questioning life, ethics and morality.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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Thanks to Text Publishing for sending me this book for review.

Mini Reviews #3 – Lullaby & Goodbye StrangerGoodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead
Published by Text Publishing on August 4, 2015
Source: Publisher
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson
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Bridge is an accident survivor who's wondering why she's still alive. Emily has new curves and an almost-boyfriend who wants a certain kind of picture. Tabitha sees through everybody's games--or so she tells the world. The three girls are best friends with one rule: No fighting. Can it get them through seventh grade?
This year everything is different for Sherm Russo as he gets to know Bridge Barsamian. What does it mean to fall for a girl--as a friend?
On Valentine's Day, an unnamed high school girl struggles with a betrayal. How long can she hide in plain sight?

It’s been a really long time since I’ve been in middle school, and Goodbye Stranger captures the confusing time just before you enter high school. You’re not quite a teenager, so there remains the naivety and optimism that comes with finding yourself and understanding new situations and other people. There’s also the insecurity as well, with saying what you need to say, doing what you need to do but still remaining close to your best friends. In essence, Goodbye Stranger is about the growing pains with family, relationships, finding oneself and friends, while venturing unknown territory that you don’t quite understand yet.

The writing here is crisp, relatable and easily read, but I couldn’t connect to the plot and characters. There’s a few different point of views, with an unknown narrator, a letter to a grandfather as well as the major storyline with Bridge and her friends. Even while I reached the end of the book, I didn’t know how the mysterious narrator fit in with the major storyline, which lead to a lot of confusion.

I struggled to connect with the book and its characters while reading. The blurb also gives virtually nothing away about what the book is really about – I thought it was about grief because of Bridge being an accident survivor, or about the consequences of sending shirtless selfies of yourself. But while these things were featured, it didn’t really heavily pursue any particularly plotline, and rather focuses on the whole experience of being a middle schooler and the growing pains. I loved the feminism slant and the glimpse of diversity featured though, which felt natural and a part of the character’s thought systems.

While Goodbye Stranger attempts to capture a confusing time of life and finding yourself, the lack of a strong plotline and character connection affected my rating of it. It reads like YA but is actually aimed at the upper MG level.

Rating: 2 out of 5

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Thanks to Text Publishing for sending me this book for review.

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Jeann is an Aussie blogger, gamer, reader who loves to read, write, fangirl, geek out and eat food. You can find me glued to one of my many mobile devices 24/7, or fangirling over the latest YA book, TV show, movie or game. Chat with me on Twitter @happyindulgence

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24 responses to “Mini Reviews #3 – Lullaby & Goodbye Stranger

  1. I have heard such mixed things about LULLABY, and to be honest, I don't think I'll be picking it up. Even though the premise sounds really interesting, and on occasion I do like to read thought provoking novels. But I am kind of over the 'one twin/sibling/friend is outgoing, and the other one hides in their shadow' trope. I've seen it too many times *sigh*

    I'm so sad you didn't like GOODBYE STRANGER, Jeann! I had the same lack of emotional connection to the storyline, but I just loved the story as a whole, and the characters were so lovable.

    Hopefully you read some fantastic books soon! <3
    My recent post Writer + Blogger Tags

  2. Romi

    Ah, well I'm really sorry to hear Goodbye Stranger wasn't an overall win for you, Jeann, especially since I'd been saying how much I loved it and all! Hopefully that element didn't add drastically to your added disappointment! I did really love GS, but… I do also understand where you're coming from, for sure. It's a pretty complex book dealing with issues that I would, for the most part, expect to come into play more in a high school setting, which made the MG feel of it a little off at times, and there were elements that I definitely wanted more detailing on. Some things were left open/unexplained, and that does annoy me, but overall I found it to be just a really well done book. I didn't really connect emotionally with the characters, though, either. Awesome, detailed review. xx
    My recent post As Black as Ebony by Salla Simukka.

    • I know, the diversity was great, but yeah it's more of a read to experience book rather than a book with a trong plot or anything. No worries, a few others loved it as well!

  3. comehometobooks

    Interesting. I haven't read anything by Stead, but I've heard lots of good things about her. Too bad you didn't connect with this one. Sounds like the writing was good, at least. Thanks for the honest review!

    Susan http://www.blogginboutbooks.com

  4. Faye M.

    Out of the two, LULLABY is intriguing me the most. I know you rated it three stars, which for me translates to "It was decent" but I have this burning urge to get my hands on it. I think it's because it poses a lot of questions for morality and ethics which I am fascinated in. I'm weird, I know. Haha!
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  5. Braine-Talk Supe

    I will definitely go with the unprofessional therapist. But I'm guessing it wasn't capitalized much hence the 3 stars?

  6. The first book sounds really interesting, Jeann. I love it when a book can make you think about yourself, so I'm very curious about it. I'll have to look more into it.

    That's really too bad that you couldn't click with the characters in the second book. The cover is so cute. I would certainly have picked it up, but it's important for me to feel a connection with the characters to fully enjoy a book.

    Lovely reviews, Jeann!
    My recent post Review: First & Then by Emma Mills

    • It was a really thought provoking, unique book Nick! I know, I am the same with the character connection. It's hard to care about a book that doesn't really pull you in. Thanks!

  7. EGH. Lullaby confused me so much. xD I mean, it was good at times?! and the ending was a total "whaaaa what just happened" moment and it ended too soon!! I wanted to know what'd happen next!! But yes, that therapist was completely unprofessional, right?!