Monday, 28 May 2012

Contempo-May Review: Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

In One Line: Girl loves Banksy, Banksy loves girl, but will he reveal his secret identity?
Genre: Intelligent urban swoon
The Gist:
Lucy is obsessed with a graffiti artist called Shadow whose work she follows around town, and is convinced that he is the one for her. As in THE ONE. She knows this because when she sees his art, she feels like she is seeing into Shadow’s soul. Told in split gender narrative chapter alterations (shall I trademark that term? I feel like I oughta trademark that term.) we also get to see the world through Shadow’s eyes, who is, like, TOTALLY the guy whose nose Lucy broke when they actually dated a while back. But does he really want to reveal his true self to a girl like her? And when she discovers more of Shadow’s murky background, will Lucy still like what she finds?
The Cover:
No. Doesn’t do the book justice. Plain and simple. Plus this is one of those rare books with cross gender appeal, and putting a girl (who isn’t Lucy because I’m sure Lucy is blonde!) on the cover pretty much obliterates a younger male readership. Also, for a book about art, there’s really very little art actually going on here. Where’s the power and the passion? I think I feel so strongly about this cover because of the intensity with which I enjoyed this book. It deserves nothing less than iconic. 
Why You’ll Love This Book
  • It’s stunning and swoony and NOT in a guilty pleasure way. This is a book that knows its mind and isn’t afraid to be clever. In fact, at some points the subtle intelligence with which is is written really astounded me. 
  • Lucy. I love Lucy. I could be Lucy - if only my hair would stay up if I stuck a couple of paint brushes into it. What I love about her most? The fact that she has turned this messed up artist guy into a superhero, and isn’t ashamed to roll with it. 
  • Shadow. He totally IS a superhero. He may not believe it, you may not believe it at first, but give a guy the power of spray-cans and a secret identity and there you have it, an urban superhero. And like every fantastic superhero, take away the shiny facade and you have someone endearingly messed up and much more wonderful. 
  • Australia by night. This is a book about living in a city. A city with a lot of crazy people in it doing lots of crazy things, but somehow beautiful under the streetlights. The suburban Australian sprawl could be Edgware in places. It could be New York. It could be anywhere where too many lost souls have been crammed into one place. And yet instead of making it dreary and depressing, like Shadow Cath Crowley has injected art and passion into every abandoned train yard, every litter bin and every streetlight. 
  • Art. Yeah this book has some serious art going on. You’ll want to read it with Google images close to hand. And that is SO COOL. Particular shout out of awesome goes to mentions of Dale Chihuly whose centrepiece at the Victoria and Albert Museum I have spent many an hour just gazing at. 

Why You May Not Love This Book:
  • There is something about the cadence of the text that makes it hard to get into at first. I had to reread a few of the early pages, just to make sure that I was absorbing the information right. I was seriously confused as to why this was happening, but I think I’ve figured it out: this is an Australian book. I don’t mean that in any derogatory way whatsoever (!!!) but the fact that this book is written in another form of English does make a difference. The speech patterns are different, the syntax is different, and coupled with the fact that Cath Crowley is a very intelligent writer, you just have to give this book a few pages to get used to the fact that you’re reading a very different voice. Think about it in terms of this: how many times have you read a UK book and thought that the style was ‘American’, or just read an American book and ‘just knew’ it was set in America because of the writing style? The same goes for this book. It’s Australian, and I haven’t read many Australian writers before, so you do have to do a sneaky little bit of mental adjusting in order to really get what’s going on. 
  • The plot is just a tiny bit improbable - I did at one point go ‘blimey! what are the chances?!’ but it’s not a big deal, because it’s a darned good story. 
  • I wanted more poetry from Poet. He gets a bit lost within the book and when we do find snippets of his words, they aren’t enough. 
  • Daisy and Dylan. Two minor characters that I just got a bit lost with. Who are they again? Why are they here? What are they doing? Do I care?

The Hypersomnia Test:
The first few chapters didn’t pass. This was because I was confused. I had heard so much hype around this book, and when the language didn’t initially click with me I just ended up wondering what all the fuss was about. But then when everything fell into place, when I realised that the whole book is just one beautiful roller-coaster night, I couldn’t put it down. I even missed my stop on the tube. And I have NEVER done that before. 
Final Verdict:
Contempo-May has thrown many surprises my way so far, but this has been the best. I didn’t expect a book to be so thoroughly subtle, intelligent and beautiful all at once. Sure the plot may be a little convoluted, but that’s the great joy of writing - to be able to tell the stories that you don’t always see in real life. I really enjoyed this book. I was sad when it ended. I felt that there was room for an entire novel in every single character, and I LOVED Lucy. Some of the things she comes out with, I can resonate a lot with a girl like that. Please read this book. 
Further Reading:
You Against Me by Jenny Downham
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
When I Was Joe by Keren David
To buy Graffiti Moon click HERE!!!

1 comment:

  1. Oh, I love this book. Loved reading your review, too. Thanks!