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Saturday, May 2, 2015

[ARC MINI-REVIEW] The Merit Birds by Kelley Powell

The Merit Birds

Author: Kelley Powell
Genre: YA Contemporary
Expected publication: May 2nd 2015 by Dundurn Group
ARC Source: Publisher via Netgalley
Pre-order from: Amazon | The Book Depository | Barnes & Noble
Eighteen-year-old Cam Scott is angry. He's angry about his absent dad, he's angry about being angry, and he's angry that he has had to give up his Ottawa basketball team to follow his mom to her new job in Vientiane, Laos. However, Cam's anger begins to melt under the Southeast Asian sun as he finds friendship with his neighbour, Somchai, and gradually falls in love with Nok, who teaches him about building merit, or karma, by doing good deeds, such as purchasing caged "merit birds."

Tragedy strikes and Cam finds himself falsely accused of a crime. His freedom depends on a person he's never met. A person who knows that the only way to restore his merit is to confess. The Merit Birds blends action and suspense and humour in a far-off land where things seem so different, yet deep down are so much the same.


My thoughts

*I received an eARC of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*

I was just mainly disappointed with this book. The Merit Birds has an interesting premise but sadly, it fell short. I liked that it's culturally diverse; heck, it's even set in Laos! I dived into this book with high expectations because hello?! Diversity right here! I enjoyed the depiction of Laos culture and living in a Southeast Asian country myself, The Merit Birds felt close to home. But halfway through, I was just bored and couldn't care less what would happen. Reading this made me sleepy, nothing much was happening and I couldn't connect with the characters. Cam was so resentful and angry most of the time. Julia was an irresponsible and neglecting mother. Seng was pathetic and selfish. The only ones I liked were Somchai and Nok. They're both friendly and smart and kind. They were the ones who helped Cam adjust to a place he never wanted to be in. Somchai represents all the good traits of the Laos people and for that, he's my favorite character in this book.

"Tragedy strikes and Cam finds himself falsely accused of a crime." Tragedy struck indeed but when it happened, I was underwhelmed. I was expecting some huge nerve-wracking tragedy, but that's not what I got. Pfft.

I think my problem lies with the writing style. It's too descriptive for my taste. I prefer that the characters tell the story to me through dialogue and conversations. But in The Merit Birds, I didn't get a lot of that. It felt like the author was trying to spoonfeed the story to her readers.

The Merit Birds has a really interesting concept that promises richly diverse culture and characters and a coming-of-age story in a foreign land. Unfortunately, I wasn't impressed. It could have been better.
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Julie @ Books and Insomnia

Julie is a Filipina blogger who pretends she has insomnia so she can stay up late reading. When she's not buried in books, she can be found watching anime, drinking chocolate-flavored instant coffee, lurking on the internet, daydreaming and talking about herself in third person. She loves purple and anything sweet!

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