Thursday, 5 June 2014

Review: The Year of the Rat by Clare Furniss

Grappling with grief is hard enough without repeat visits from the deceased. Pearl deals with death, life, and family in this haunting, humorous, and poignant debut.

The world can tip at any moment…a fact that fifteen-year-old Pearl is all too aware of when her mom dies after giving birth to her baby sister, Rose.

Rose, who looks exactly like a baby rat, all pink, wrinkled, and writhing. This little Rat has destroyed everything, even ruined the wonderful relationship that Pearl had with her stepfather, the Rat’s biological father.

Mom, though…Mom’s dead but she can’t seem to leave. She keeps visiting Pearl. Smoking, cursing, guiding.

Told across the year following her mother’s death, Pearl’s story is full of bittersweet humor and heartbreaking honesty about how you deal with grief that cuts you to the bone, as she tries not only to come to terms with losing her mother, but also the fact that her sister—The Rat—is a constant reminder of why her mom is no longer around

 Publisher: Simon & Schuster | Release Date: April 24th 2014 | Pages: 320 | Source: The Library! | Purchase: The Book Depository | Read it in: 2 hours | Word Rating: Okaaaay...


Death books and I don't normally get on.  I don't really get them.  Yes, yes, it's very sad, but I feel books about death/people dying are never written very well (or I've just never read any that have pulled my heartstrings).  The Year of the Rat, however, wasn't as bad as it could've been, but it wasn't as good as it could've been either.   I also felt there were big similarities to Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott. 

This book suffered heavy missing family syndrome.  I get that her Dad had to work long hours to support Pearl and Rose (the rat) in their new home, but he always seemed conveniently at work when Pearl was going to do something stupid.  He also didn't seem to get that Peal acting horrible was her way of saying that she was upset about Mother's death,  and there were many moments where I was silently shouting, "OPEN YOUR EYES!"

The romance was so forced it made me cringe.  There was nothing between Finn and Pearl that hinted at a relationship.  Introducing a love interest is never very well done in a death book, as the main character always seems to full of grief to contribute to a relationship and ends up lashing out and basically making the other person's life hell.  This is EXACTLY what happened in The Year of the Rat.  *pulls out hair*

I think my BIGGEST problem with The Year of the Rat, is Molly, Pearl's best friend.  Molly is one of the WORST best friends I read in along time.  She's blonde, tall and beautiful and is supposedly really nice, but I didn't see ANY NICENESS from Molly in the book.  She was SO self obsessed and cared only for herself.  She got really angry at Pearl for being to quiet and said that she never did anything any more.  I could understand this if it was six months to a year after her Mother's death, but this was ONE month after her mum's death.  I mean, really?  Then there was the bit later in the book when Molly's parents were getting a divorce and Molly thinks this is MORE IMPORTANT THEN PEARL'S GRIEF AND TELLING HER TO GET OVER IT.  THIS IS NOT WHAT A 'BEST FRIEND' DOES.

The way Pearl imagined her Mother as a ghost and how she 'visited' Pearl, was silly and just went on to show how annoying self-centered and immature her mother really was.


3 stars out of 5

Altogether, The Year of the Rat was an okay novel.  It had bad and it had good (although I know I just kind of ranted about the bad) so it's one of those books that are stuck right in the middle.

Have YOU read The Year of the Rat?  What did you think of it?  What do you think about 'bad' best friends?


  1. Oh dang. I just won this book and I'm super excited to start it!! BUT, I feel awkward romances are always cringe-worthy. Bad best friends are probably a fact of life that a lot of readers could relate to, so I think they're worth writing. But I've never read a bad-friend-combo that turned out well. It makes me sad. :|

    1. I don't think it was necessarily a bad book, it was just one of those 3 star books when they've got both even amounts of good and bad.
      I HATE most best friends in books! They're normally so annoying and don't act AT ALL like a best friend or even a friend would act. Just toxic. Toxic, toxic, TOXIC.

  2. I'm sorry that it didn't work well for you, Ella! I don't know if you've read the Book Thif, but I would highly, highly recommend it, and it's narrated by Death itself. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on it.

    I'm not sure about this book myself- I think there are points I may like, but there's just something about it that makes me think it's not for me, but I don't know WHAT THAT IS. It's very confusing.

    1. It was a good book, just had so many niggly bad things tat I didn't like that pulled the rating down from a four. Plus, forced romances are possibly the next worst thing after love triangles *shudders*

      I have read The Book Thief! I have mixed opinions :| While some of it I loved...I also hated some of it, but overall it was a frabjous book. :) I also saw the movie with my best friend and thought it was pretty fantastic for a book to movie adaptation!

  3. I really enjoyed this one and likened it to to Heartbeat as well. But I think Pearl was far more likable as a character than the MC in Heartbeat. I found it emotional though, but only the parts that involved The Rat, seeing the baby grow was the highlight for me. Parents are usually conveniently missing in most YA I find, maybe it's just a reflection on working parents of today even. Molly didn't even rate a mention with me, but couldn't agree more. I mean, Pearl has lost her mother, a new sibling that she feels ended her mother's life and a step father that she feels she can no longer relate to. So the best friend decides to keep herself occupied with a new boyfriend?

    Awesome review Ella! :)

    1. Molly ruined the WHOLE book for me :( I just couldn't believe anyone could be that crass in that situation >:/

      Thanks Kelly! :D


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