Friday, 2 January 2015

Review: Red Ink by Julie Mayhew

Publication Date~ February 07 2013
Publisher~ Hot Key Books
Source~ Received copy in exchange for honest review

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 When her mother is knocked down and killed by a London bus, fifteen-year-old Melon Fouraki is left with no family worth mentioning. Her mother, Maria, never did introduce Melon to a 'living, breathing' father. The indomitable Auntie Aphrodite, meanwhile, is hundreds of miles away on a farm in Crete, and is unlikely to be jumping on a plane and coming to East Finchley anytime soon. But at least Melon has 'The Story'. 'The Story' is the Fourakis family fairytale. A story is something. RED INK is a powerful coming-of-age tale about superstition, denial and family myth.


A huge thank you to HKB for sending me this novel in exchange for my honest review. 

This was another novel I read back in the summer, but don't take my late posting of this review as a sign that I disliked this novel, quite the opposite. After finishing this novel, it was difficult to compose my thoughts on this novel without just word vomiting about how amazing and wonderful I think it is and how everyone should read it right now!!! So after a few months have passed, I'm composed enough to write my review in an orderly fashion. Mayhew's novel contains themes of love and loss, coming of age, rites of passage and family dynamic which are all executed perfectly. This emotional novel is very dark and gritty at times but is wholly and completely realistic and honest. 

So firstly let me just briefly talk about the cover of this novel. I love the white around the edge and the watermarked symbols are so pretty but the cover model...does not look at all like how Melon is described in the novel. I found a little irritating that the model looks a lot older than fifteen year old Melon and also nothing like how the reader is led to picture her.

Red Ink contains such a strong and honest voiced narrator, the likes of which is unrivalled by any other contemporary YA novel I've read. Melon is such a strong protagonist with such a snarky and spunky protagonist that it's hard not to instantly wish she were your best friend. I felt a real connection to her character and felt as if I were going through her situation with her as she dealt with everything.

The plot of the novel was utterly captivating and memorable. I loved the format of the plot itself, from the chapter titles, e.g "35 Days Since", which created a suspense and excitement of the plot unfolding in the mind of the reader as they also joined in the countdown. I really liked the way Mayhew managed to weave "The Story" into the main plot of the book, allowing the alternation between the reader learning of Melon and the family past. I loved the plot from beginning to end, especially the layout of the plot pace so that the plot was slowly built up and information was given out slowly and therefore built up the suspense for the reader. There were so many twists and turns in this novel and I did not see any of them coming. 

The relationships in this novel were extremely well written and achingly real. They displayed the bare honesty of relationships and friendships without sugar coating any gritty details. From fake friends, creating friendships, and the unusual family dynamic between Melon and Paul, her mothers social worker boyfriend, all are written with astounding realism by Mayhew. Every single character in this novel from Melon, Paul, Chick & her mum, to Melon's Mother, all leap off the page and are so fully three dimensional. 

Julie Mayhew is a new author to me as I've never read anything else she has written, but honestly after this novel, any YA book she brings out will be on my immediate buy and read list. I loved how much research she put into perfecting this novel. Whereas other authors may put in the minimum required research for writing their story, I feel like Julie Mayhew went above and beyond and really devoted herself to researching Crete, Greece and the social worker practise. This obvious research really added to the novel and made it all feel so real and alive for the reader. 

Mayhew's writing style was a breath of fresh air. Her writing style drew me into the story of the novel and connected me to it on a level I don't often experience. Mayhew's thoughtful and poetic writing makes the reader think and reflect while also connecting them wholly to the novel. The dialogue was entertaining, and humorous at times and a joy to read. 

The setting of the novel from the busy, gritty London to the scenic, hot Crete were so vivid. The settings presented in the novel were so strong and have definitely resonated with me over time. Mayhew's descriptions of places and shops and people bring the setting to life in the mind of the reader. 

This novel contained one of the realest and most brutally honest descriptions of secondary school, friendship, grief and loss, and sex that I've ever read. There was such a brilliant sense of gritty realism to this novel that really made it stand out from other contemporary YA novels I've read. This novel really resonated with me and I doubt I will be forgetting its story anytime soon. I would definitely, and hope to once my TBR pile dies down, re-read this novel again and again. 

 I can not recommend this novel enough, please pick it up. 


Five Star Favourite     ( although if I could give it Six out of Five Stars I would!!) 

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  1. Interesting review. I was really excited to read this book when it first came out but I couldn't really get into it. Then I heard the author at YALC and it made me think maybe I should give the book another chance but I forgot. This might be just the reminder I needed...

  2. Hi again, Shannon. :)

    I did enjoy your review, but I must admit that it's too long. I began skim-reading after the first 3-4 paragraphs.

    The review look a bit like the reviews we did about danish ARC, when we first got some for about 6 years ago. We were so thankful, that I can read you also are, so we really wanted to make a thorough review (and we didn't rewrite them) and they became gigantic. ;)

    I think I can recognise it a bit here. You really think a lot about everything and won't miss a thing, but it becomes a bit of a school paper/book report instead.

    I really DO like, that you try to explain WHY you think this one is great, and you are absolutely right, that a lot of blogger (and booktubers) just say "OMG OMG THis is sooo good", and dont' argue about why they think so. Obviously they can't analyse literature, so they don't know why they felt the way they did, but you do. And that's why this review (and the blog) is so interesting.

    Lots of good thing all over the review, but many sentences are just the same thing said in a new way, so as a feedback, maybe you could try make it short and more precise?

    Actually you did it in your synopsis. It works so good. It's short, but it's precise and full of information.

    At our Danish blog where we have more than 1000 reviews, the average time a reader stays on a post is 30-60 seconds. That's a fact, and it's mostly the same on all websites. So we have to remember that, that our readers stay less than a minute, so we have to write something really informative they can read in that time.

    All that you can optimize if you want to, but think of your readers, when you write, not the publisher. The best thing is, that you're a really great writer, and you can analyse and you think a lot about the books you review.

    Oh yeah, another litlle think. We operate with small - often teasing - subtitles for our paragraphs, so that the reader gets the chance to jump down to an interesting paragraph and get a clear view of your text Because we all skim-read a lot on the internet and with small subtitles, the reader will read some paragraphs of our review, instead of just clicking away. So maybe you would like to try that too.

    I must admit. I enjoyed the first part and just skim-read the ending, because it was far too long. ;)

    Best wishes Peter