Cuck-OO Cuck-OO (Reviewing Cuckoo by Keren David)

I'm just going to start this review by telling you that I finished Keren David's Cuckoo in less than two hours yesterday. For a 352 paged book, that has to be some kind of record for me (because I happen to be the slowest reader in all the world) and I only read fast if a book is good. SO WE CAN KIND OF ASSUME THIS BOOK IS GOOD, RIGHT?

Admittedly, part of this is because- Wait, I need to give you a blurb before I start! What am I doing?
Jake is an actor, a household name thanks to his role on the UK's most popular soap. But his character went upstairs to his bedroom six months ago and never came down again, and now Jake is facing an uncertain future. Add to that his dad's anger issues, the family's precarious finances and the demands of a severely autistic brother; Jake's home feels like a powder keg waiting to explode. It's easier to spend nights on friends' sofas and futons, but what happens when you feel like a cuckoo in every nest? 
Cuckoo is a novel about the roles we play when we don't fit in anywhere, and finding unlikely solace when home is the least welcoming place of all.
As I was saying, part of this is due to the format, which was also one of the most inventive parts of the book. It's told in YouTube video transcripts and comments, which made for very fast reading because it's basically a script. Scripts = white space = more pages in less time. I loved the whole idea, but it did very occasionally make things a little confusing. Because there was no description, but being a transcript, there were no little labels to show whose line was whose ... and I had to re-read the odd conversation a few times to make sense of who was saying what. #OopsThat'sConfusing
There were many things this book did exceptionally well, and David really wasn't afraid of really diving into tough topics. Cuckoo involves homelessness, dementia, caring for people with complex disabilities, the fickleness of fame, losing money, and ... I could probably go on for an entire post if I thought hard enough about it. When a book crams in that much representation (I'm just going to insert a quick #WeNeedDiverseBooks right here) you might imagine that it would seem convoluted to fit it all in, or it just wouldn't feel real or be written properly. BUT IT ABSOLUTELY WAS. The acknowledgements alone really show how much research the author's done.

Plot. It wasn't bad by any means, but I didn't really notice it? I guess that's a good thing? Stories are generally supposed to be character-driven, so I guess the plot should be so seamless that a reader doesn't see it. But there were definitely no massive twists or cliffhangers or anything - for me at least. You might have read something that I went "meh" at and gasped so hard people rushed in to make sure you were okay. As one person, there's just no way of knowing.
As for said characters, they were cool. I absolutely loved Destiny, her work ethic and her fearlessness, but Jake's friends blended into each other a LOT. Orson? Dylan? I think one of them was called Anton? But I wasn't especially attached to any of them, that's including Jake and Destiny. I guess I found that they weren't really explored enough, but again, I don't know. It could be me just as much as it could be the book.

So I know I talked about the negatives last, but don't let them put you off reading this! Remember that inventive format? And the extensive research? And the fact I was enthralled enough to finish the whole thing in less than two hours? They get Cuckoo 4.5 stars.
***
In the comments: Have you guys read Cuckoo? What did you think? Does the premise sound interesting if you haven't?
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2 comments:

  1. I've never heard of this book, but it sounds so cool! Definitely going on the TBR. I love books that experiment with different formats to tell the story. Have you read Illuminae?

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    1. YESSSSS! I always get so excited when I convince you to read a book - and this one really is cool, so I hope you enjoy it. I haven't read Illuminae, at least not yet, but I've been hearing all about it lately. I'll have to look further into it ...

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