Author: David Arnold
Publication Date: September 20, 2016
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Format: Paperback ARC
Age Group: Young Adult
Victor Benucci and Madeline Falco have a story to tell.It begins with the death of Vic’s father.It ends with the murder of Mad’s uncle.The Hackensack Police Department would very much like to hear it.But in order to tell their story, Vic and Mad must focus on all the chapters in between.This is a story about:1. A coded mission to scatter ashes across New Jersey.2. The momentous nature of the Palisades in winter.3. One dormant submarine.4. Two songs about flowers.5. Being cool in the traditional sense.6. Sunsets & ice cream & orchards & graveyards.7. Simultaneous extreme opposites.8. A narrow escape from a war-torn country.9. A story collector.10. How to listen to someone who does not talk.11. Falling in love with a painting.12. Falling in love with a song.13. Falling in love.
This year, all of us from the blog attended the American Library Association annual conference in Orlando and I had the pleasure of meeting David Arnold, if only for a second. I stood in line and waited for him to sign and personalize my ARC copy of Kids of Appetite. It was the first time I had ever met him and found him to be personable and very nice. I now wish I could go back in time and ask him a ton of questions regarding the genesis of this story. Because wow!
There were so many elements in this novel which are atypical to the YA contemporary genre. By the time I arrived at the last word, I felt my heart smile and sing. I don't remember the last time a YA novel mentioned the conflict that happened - and is still happening - in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I don't even remember the last time the main characters were kids who band together to take on the world without the true benefit of adult oversight or supervision like the orphans in Annie. It is exactly why this story felt so important. David Arnold has written such an intelligent, thought-provoking, and well-informed novel. I had no idea what I was in store when I first began reading this story and I was pleasantly surprised, to say the least.
One of the things that mostly intrigued me and kept me reading was this built-in mystery we are told of in the synopsis. I mean, how the hell did Mad's uncle die and how did the items on that list play out? I was not disappointed and sure enough, each experience is expertly weaved throughout.
The story is told from the point of view of two of the central band of misfits, or the Kids of Appetite: Vic and Mad. Similar to Jennifer Niven's Holding Up the Universe (our review will be posted closer to pub date and it is awesome too!), Vic is suffering from a rare neurological disease called Moebius syndrome. It's a disorder which causes full paralysis to a person's facial muscles - thus taking away their ability to smile or even close their eyes. After careful thought, I realized how much Vic's syndrome drives the central story both in the way that it compels him to act and the way the other characters are compelled to act towards him.
Similarly, Mad has her own great character arc. In fact, rounding out the rest of the crew is Baz, Coco, and Zuz. They are all equally well-crafted characters and I think this is what the author does best. Another thing I loved about the author's writing style is his ability to point out even the most minute details about life and making them so relatable. Quotes like "the only people arrogant enough to use the words I understand are the ones who possibly can't understand. People who truly get it never say much of anything."
This author is such a talent and he's just one of these people who was born to write. I'm embarrassed to say that I missed his Mosquitoland but after reading this book, there is no way that I can exist without going back to read it. These characters are precocious but that did not bother me in the slightest. It truly felt like I was reading a classic like The Outsiders (Mag's favorite book) or The Catcher in the Rye. That is to say that it felt raw, real, and old-new all at the same time.
"And when the kids needed someone most, someone to love and trust, they found one another, and they called themselves the Kids of Appetite, and they lived and they laughed and they saw that it was good." Please do yourself a favor and pick this one up. You certainly won't be sorry and I promise that you will fall in love with these characters and will learn a few things, important things, along the way.
Please note that the quotes included in this review come from an uncorrected galley and is subject to change once the final published version releases.
I write stories and songs. I like pesto, Arcade Fire, indie bookstores, Middle-earth, GARP, Elliott Smith, Christmastime, and all things Sorkin. I don't like olives, liars, or wet socks. My debut novel, MOSQUITOLAND, will be published by Viking/Penguin in Winter 2015. My second book, KIDS OF APPETITE, is set for a Fall 2016 release. I am represented by Dan Lazar at Writers House.
Monday, 9/19: Owl Always Be Reading (Review)
Tuesday, 9/20: Bookish Lifestyle (Top 5 Reasons to Read KoA)
Wednesday, 9/21: Perpetual Page Turner (Interview)
Thursday, 9/22: YA Bibliophile (Review)
Friday, 9/23: Fiction Fare (Favorite KoA Quotes)
Monday, 9/26: Bookiemoji (CYO KoA Group of Misfits)
Tuesday, 9/27: Here’s to Happy Endings (Review)
Wednesday, 9/28: Grownup Fangirl (Review + Instagram)
Thursday, 9/29: Book Addict’s Guide (Review)
Friday, 9/30: ButterMyBooks (KoA Bookish Scents)
Monday, 10/3: YA Wednesdays (What Makes You a KoA)
Tuesday, 10/4: Lost in Lit (KoA Lookbook/Mood Board)
Wednesday, 10/5: MundieMoms (KoA Playlist)
Thursday, 10/6: Andi’s ABCs (Review)
Friday, 10/7: Bookworm Everlasting (Review + Instagram)