A bit of a book review – The Radleys by Matt Haig

The Radleys by Matt Haig, Published by Canongate
This book has been shortlisted for an award, and has had many, many reviews from people who really enjoyed it, which, if I’m being honest, I find very surprising, now that I’ve given it a shot. Initially, I was really looking forward to dossing down with this novel and was proper excited to finally find it in the library. I was intrigued by the idea of vampires that can live without feeding on blood and who aren’t immortal, and imagined the story to be one of those books where you can’t turn the page quick enough. I imagined it to be witty and intelligent, dark yet amusing. (Back in the day when I was a young un, the only books I’d read were about vampires and the supernatural.) But boy oh boy oh boy. The disappointment was enormous. The story is about Peter and Helen and their two teenagers, Rowan and Clara. (I don’t know about you, but Rowan and Clara really clash. To me, they feel like names that the author has just thrown on the page and thought ‘they’ll do.’) Anyway, so the story is about this regular family living in an regular house going to regular jobs and schools, but they have a disturbing secret. Yeah, you’ve guessed it, they’ve vampires. But…Clara and Rowan don’t know that. Yet. However, one night, when Rowan (who happens to be a vegan) is confronted and threatened by a testosterone fuelled lad who wants a shag, she loses control, rips him to pieces and discovers that she is partial to a mouthful or twenty of blood. So the secret is out. Now, I didn’t get much further than this because I was so utterly appalled by the bland writing, the predictable storyline and all the clichés – such as, the beautiful taste of human blood – rammed into every line. I decided that I had better things to do with my time. The final thing I’ll rant about are the chapter titles every couple of pages or so. They look like the titles you put on your manuscript when you’re working on it in Microsoft Word. Really not appealing, Canongate. I was really attracted to the first front cover I saw. I thought it was quite brilliant really.

But the one I picked up from the library was…cheesy. Especially with Rowan’s name etched into the wood. The again, this book is supposed to appeal to young adults as well as adults.