It’s rare that I finish a book in so little time, simply because nowadays I’m always preoccupied with something else. However, the fact that I neglected all worldly matters to keep reading is a pretty big deal these days.
I won an ARC of this book at Barnes and Noble’s B-Fest Trivia Challenge (Not to toot my own horn, but I won rather easily, probably due to my unfair advantage of having a blog 😉 ). I didn’t plan on reading it immediately, but I opened to the first page out of curiosity. Then I flipped to the second page, the third page, and the next thing I knew I was lying on my bed full of philosophical and happy thoughts with 5 hours of my day missing.
Suffice to say, Kids of Appetite was a beautiful novel that unexpectedly turned out to be poignant, poetic, moving and infinite. It is about acceptance and love and grief and more, and I can say with absolute certainty that it is probably my favorite novel of this year.
Finally, onto the actual review. Kids of Appetite is about Vic, a teenager with Moebius Syndrome, a rare neurological condition that causes facial paralysis, and Mad, a teenager struggling to find herself under an abusive uncle. However, these personal struggles are not what the book is primarily about. The story is about Vic’s quest to scatter his father’s ashes (Who’d died two years prior) according to a coded message written by his father before he died. In order to fulfill his father’s dying wish, he, with the help of Baz, Nzuzi, Coco, and Mad, a quirky and fun group that later becomes the Kids of Appetite, travel around the state spreading ashes.
The characters were quite possibly the strongest point in this novel. They were brilliantly written, and each had their own personality and struggles, despite the novel only being told from Vic’s and Mad’s point of views. The book covers very real issues as well, and along with the obvious message about Moebius and discrimination, there is also addressing of the 1997-1999 conflict in the Republic of the Congo, and the struggles those refugees went through. I applaud Arnold for bringing both these more obscure issues to light with his work here.
This book is very philosophical, touching, and beautifully written. I loved how I was presented with these ideals in a manner that their presence in the story seemed natural, and not like the author’s beliefs were being shoved down my throat under the guise of “character beliefs.” The flipping between the past and present tied together the story very nicely as well.
If I absolutely have to point out a flaw, it would be that there is some insta-infatuation going on in the very beginning, in the sense that Vic is pretty obsessed with Mad when he first sees her (and yes, this attraction is mostly physical). But hey, it’s not insta-love if it doesn’t go both ways, and Vic’s infatuation is quickly overshadowed by his quest, so it didn’t affect my reading experience in any way.
Overall, Kids of Appetite is a highly recommended read that everyone should scramble to purchase as soon as it is released in September, because I assure you, this book is something special.
Thanks to the publisher and Barnes and Noble for providing this ARC