Monday, 30 April 2018

Review | Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman
Published On: April 5, 2018
Published By: Ink Road
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 352
Format: eBook
Source: Netgalley
Rating: ★★★

Amazon | Goodreads

Kiko Himura has always had a hard time saying exactly what she’s thinking. With a mother who makes her feel unremarkable and a half-Japanese heritage she doesn’t quite understand, Kiko prefers to keep her head down, certain that once she makes it into her dream art school, Prism, her real life will begin. 
But then Kiko doesn’t get into Prism, at the same time her abusive uncle moves back in with her family. So when she receives an invitation from her childhood friend to leave her small town and tour art schools on the west coast, Kiko jumps at the opportunity in spite of the anxieties and fears that attempt to hold her back. And now that she is finally free to be her own person outside the constricting walls of her home life, Kiko learns life-changing truths about herself, her past, and how to be brave.

*A copy of this book was provide by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*

I tried my hardest to go into this book with no expectations but for some reason, somewhere in the back of my mind, I expected to really enjoy it. Having read some reviews before picking it up, I had seen so many people rave about this book. I was seeing nothing but 5 star reviews and people claiming this as their new favourite book and I had thought I would be one of them. Sadly, not. For me, this book was average.

I didn't hate it, by any means. There are several aspects of the book that I particularly enjoy. For the most part, though, I just found it to be kind of 'meh' and not all that exciting. I didn't feel like very much happened and found there was nothing drawing me in and making me want to keep reading. I was a little bit disappointed.

Despite there being so many different aspects to the story, I felt as though the plot dragged. The main character, Kiko, is dealing with so much in her life and all of that is explored within the story. However, it was all a little bit boring. I'm not even sure how to explain it but it almost felt to me as though there was a pretty boring main plot and then all of the complex, interesting stuff going on in Kiko's life were different subplots rather than being involved in the main story. It definitely had potential but I don't feel like it was executed as well as it could have been.

One of those "suplot" aspects that I didn't like was the romance. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't like Jamie! He was a very bland character with little substance to him, but he was also just not a great person. I really didn't like his attitude towards Kiko's anxiety. He didn't even try to be nice about it, despite promising at one point to try harder, and just made her feel worse about something she couldn't control. I may have been muttering some not very nice words while reading about him.

Kiko's anxiety is a very prominent part of the book, which I think is really great. While she doesn't let it define her, it is clear to the reader just how much it impacts her life and how much she struggles with it. While the representation in this book was great, for the most part, I did have a few small issues with it. For the majority of the book, I thought the anxiety rep was very accurate and often really related to what Kiko was going through and how the situation was being described. However, there were a few times where it felt very exaggerated or that things were inconsistent. I would say, though, that the representation was pretty good overall.

I loved how important Kiko's heritage was to the story. Kiko is half-Japanese, but has not really had the opportunity to explore the Japanese culture. I think the way this was discussed and incorporated into the story was really great. There is a real emphasis on how much not being exposed to that side of her heritage has impacted Kiko and caused her to feel so insecure in herself. There was also great discussion regarding beauty and how there is more than one idea of beauty, not just the blonde, blue eyed Caucasian models displayed all over the media. This was probably my favourite aspect of the book and I particularly loved getting a bit of an insight into Japanese culture myself.

Overall, this book has a great message and did have it's good qualities but it didn't live up to the expectations I had for it. I found the plot to be slow and a little boring, and had some issues with a few characters. However, I did really love the emphasis on embracing your heritage and exploring different cultures, as well as the anxiety representation throughout the story. I can understand why a lot of people have really enjoyed it, but for me it was just an average read.

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