Review: Mosquitoland

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Review for “Mosquitoland” by David Arnold (2015)

Rating: 1.25 out of 5 stars

Meh.

I didn’t like this book. I read about 100 pages, put it down for a week, and still just…meh. The last 100 pages I skimmed through, I gave no fucks…

Anyway, “Mosquitoland” is the story of Mim (an acronym for Mary Iris Malone), a 16 year old girl living in Jackson, Mississippi with her newly-remarried father and stepmother. Her mother, the reader quickly learns, is reportedly sick and living in Ohio. Mim overhears her father and stepmother discussing her mother’s illness and proceeds to take a stash of cash and catch a Greyhound bus to her mom in Ohio. What follows as Mim goes on an almost 1,000 mile journey is a series of misadventures that I won’t go into for fear of spoiling the book, but she does meet several people along the way–some nice, some not so nice–and somehow manage to reach her destination. In the end she learns a lot about herself and the meaning of family.

The book would have been mildly enjoyable if it had not been for Mim herself. Mental illness is alluded to as the source of Mim’s problem, but it’s never definitively confirmed. She is sarcastic, but she’s so overwhelmingly negative about everything (her parents, her life, the people around her, etc.) that her particular brand of sarcasm never grew on me. Mim is very much like that bratty grade school kid you all know (only ten years older) who has no filter: many times in the story she was just plain obnoxious towards the people around her or just flat out rude altogether. I understood that living with her dad and stepmom in country bumpkin-ville wasn’t her cup of tea…but sooo many times in the story I wanted to roll my eyes and yell at her to get over herself. Sheesh.

Plotwise, this book is all over the place. In addition to the road trip, a large portion of the story is letters she writes in her journal and general retellings of past events. Honestly I was done with Mim’s (aka the author’s) Holden Caulfield-esque posturing in the first 50 pages. I kept reading because, in the end, I guess I just wanted someone remotely likable here. Pfffft.

Apparently, I am in the minority with not liking this book. It is currently receiving overwhelming praise by readers on Goodreads and has received a “Best Of 2015” nomination there. I can certainly understand why this is, Mim is somewhat of a manic pixie dream girl character with a hell of a story. In the end, it’s just not MY kind of story. I generally don’t care for road trip novels and this one was no exception.

The cover art is stunning, however. I’ve always wanted to climb on top of a moving vehicle and write. Yassss!

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