In Dying to Know You, award-winning author Aidan Chambers has created an indelible portrait of a young man discovering his own voice in the world, and has constructed a love story that is as much about the mind as it is the heart. In this contemporary love story, a teenage boy named Karl enlists a famous writer to help him impress his girlfriend, Fiorella. She has asked him to write her a letter in which he reveals his true self. But Karl isn’t convinced he’s good enough with words, so he tracks down Fiorella’s favorite author and begs him to take up the task. The writer reluctantly assents, on the condition that Karl agree to a series of interviews, so that the letter will be based on an authentic portrait of Karl. The letter, though effective, has unexpected consequences for Karl, Fiorella, and the writer.
Dying to Know You
**I received a copy of this book from Random House U.K in exchange for an honest review.**
As a book reviewer and a book blogger,my favourite part of the hobby is getting the opportunity to discover books and authors that I haven't heard of before.I came across Dying To Know You while browsing the Random House U.K website and the cover caught my attention.It's not like the usual YA covers with cool graphics or girls in dresses which does a good job in catching the attention of the age group the books are targeted at.The simplicity and the serene look of the cover got me really intrigued.And the blurb of course ( the one on the back of my copy is a different one),though it doesn't let on much of the story.
If you've read the blurb,you'll see that Karl gets in touch with Fiorella's favourite author to help him with answering the questions Fiorella sets for him.But the blurb does not give away anything on the fact that the entire story was told from that author's point of view,and instead of focusing much on Karl and Fiorella's relationship,the story shows the blooming of Karl's friendship with the author with time,and how this chance meeting helps them to become each other's most trusted confidantes.Through their friendship,the real author,Aidan Chambers,gives a wonderful insight of the pain of losing someone close, but then eventually letting go and moving forward with your life.And of course,discovering new loved ones to fill in the gap for the ones you have lost.
This book is one of the most unique contemporaries I've ever read,one that made me feel happy and sad at the same time.It is one of those books which,without reading, would leave your life incomplete.If you're a consistent book lover then you'll definitely know what I'm talking about as you're bound to come across a book which made you feel this way.So don't even think about missing out on this book if you're a contemporary fan or better yet,even if you're not one.
Though since there is a bit of suicidal and sexual reference in the book I'd recommend it for older readers.
The only comparison I can come up with off the top of my head for a similar book is Adios, Nirvana. The style and mood of the two novels is quite disparate, but they both center around a young man learning from an old man. Through a series of interviews, the young men grow as individuals, overcome something with which they have been struggling.
I really respect Chambers for trying something different narratively from the usual YA fare. That said, Dying to Know You could be a tough sell, because it is just very much not like what I would have expected. For example, the book, though marketed to young adult readers, is told from the perspective of an old man, and not one looking back on his own life. There are several occasions where he describes his old man problems, rather than focusing on Karl. I think I would have preferred to see this done from multiple points of view, rather than just the writer's.
Additionally, I wasn't a huge fan of Chambers' writing. The story is interesting and unique, but his simple prose did not appeal to me, nor did his characters. No one in this book seemed to brim with life particularly, which is really a shame. There were some nice quotes and I enjoyed the coverage of the book's themes, but I just never felt invested. Also, I've never really been a huge fan of the novels that purport to be about real events; they generally turn out rather awkward.
You might like this book if you like sparse prose, a lot of dialogue and YA books with a unique perspective.