#1: The reason why I read this book
I needed holiday reading stocks. This book was 99p on the Kindle Store and offered an "interactive Kindle reading experience" which had me curious. Considering I'd have lost less than a pound if it was awful I gave it a go. Upon further research after downloading the book, the author has some very appraising reviews. Good Choice, Mab.
#2: The reason why I thought this book was great
The praise for the author, Caroline Smailes, was well deserved. 99 Reasons Why is a well constructed, intriguing, sometimes dark novel, written in the first person narrator's dialect. Sometimes, reading a first person novel in a dialect can be frustrating, or appear forced and gimmicky. No such trouble here. The words were seamless and natural and really helped me in believing in the character: I felt where they came from.
Another thing I really enjoyed was the chapter structure. (It's the small things!) there are 99 chapters to the book, and each one is a "reason why", alluding to the title. It was clever, it worked, and I really enjoyed it!
So, onto the plot... The story centers around 22-year-old Kate, who lives on a council estate in Britain and watches the Kevin Keegan Day Nursery (Newcastle?) from her bedroom window every day, taking notes as a job for her Uncle. This sounds very sinister, but weirdly it is almost the only thing not sinister about the entire book. One day, Kate flashes her boobs out of her window at the father of a child she likes to watch. She decides she wants the kid, and asks her family to "get her for her", to which they agree. Cue all kinds of strangeness to follow...
Throughout the story, we meet Kates family: her mentally unstable "mum", her un-devoted "dad", her felony-prone "Uncle" and also her best friend (who I wished could have made more of an appearance) We also learn that Kate believes her real mum is Princess Diana, and that she was stolen from her as a baby to escape the Royal life. As a result of this, Kate spends most of her wages from her Uncle on Princess Di memorabilia on eBay.
I don't want to give anything away, but amidst some quite dark subject matter in this book, nothing is ever as it seems. I was surprised by the quality of this book given the price (another title to add to the 99p Kindle Gems list alongside Florence and Giles) and would definitely look to read more by Caroline Smailes in the future.
#3 The reason why I didn't like this book as much as I could have
The interactive element of this book was entirely worthless. In essence, it's a "choose your own ending" concept, offering eleven(?!) different possibilities. However, the "ending picker" felt like a cheap teen-mag quiz (what's your favourite colour?) and no matter which ending I chose, I found it unfulfilling and abrupt. I also found that about four of the offered endings were repetitions of each other, just worded slightly differently.
I was a little disappointed, but at 99p, and with the rest of the book so good, I can easily forgive it. I hope the next title from this author uses this functionality better, if at all. I think the idea is great - Kindles do offer different ways of reading and involving the reader. This book just didn't do it well.
#4 The reason why you should read this book too
For 99p, you can't go wrong here!
I have just been reliably informed (by the author no less) that the iPad e-book version of 99 Reasons Why overcomes the teen-mag style generator by using a spinning wheel to randomly select a final chapter for you. I haven't used or seen it yet, but already this sounds good! Perhaps Kindle Touch uses the same type of thing?
99 Reasons Why - Review
Emma is a designer living in Bristol, UK. A self-confessed stationery addict, book lover and TV sci-fi geek, she enjoys sketching zombie-eyed women and finding her next source of inspiration in the pages on the bookshelf.