Friday, 25 September 2015

Review: After Iris [The Diaries of Bluebell Gadsby #1] by Natasha Farrant

Title: After Iris
Author: Natasha Farrant
Author Info: Website|Facebook|Twitter
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Series: The Diaries of Bluebell Gadsby #1
Source: Publisher
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Publication Date: 3rd September 2015
Rating: 4 stars

Tell Me About It
An unforgettable middle-grade debut that will steal your heart Blue Gadsby’s twin sister, Iris, died three years ago and her family has never been the same. Her histrionic older sister, Flora, changes her hair color daily; her younger siblings, Jasmine and Twig, are completely obsessed with their pet rats; and both of her parents spend weeks away from home–and each other. Enter Zoran the Bosnian male au pair and Joss the troublemaking boy next door, and life for the Gadsby family takes a turn for the even more chaotic. Blue poignantly captures her family’s trials and tribulations from fragmented to fully dysfunctional to ultimately reunited, in a sequence of film transcripts and diary entries that will make you cry, laugh, and give thanks for the gift of families.
My Thoughts
I first head about this series last year at a blogger event, but only about Flora in Love. When the opportunity came up to read and review the series so far I jumped at the chance. I wanted to start this series and read it all together.  I really do like the new design of these books, and the edges are all sprayed different colours, it makes them really stand out.

After Iris is told from Bluebell's perspective. They are a multimedia diary that she writes, and videos, about events in her family's life. Mostly though, her presence is not welcome...well the video cameras presence isn't welcome, and she often finds herself being told to turn off the camera. Bluebell comes from a big family, her parents, and her siblings, Flora, Twig, Jas. Pretty quick into the the story we learn who Iris was and what role she played in the family dynamics. Her introduction to the world was unique, but also sad, as was her death. Iris was Bluebell's twin, someone who had always been there for Bluebell, someone who she could talk to, play with, and have secrets with. Her death has created a huge chasm for this family, but we don't really see how it affects them all at first, only how much Bluebell misses her.

The Gadsby family is crazy, but in a hilarious way. The daily antics that go on in this household always made me smile or laugh. The characters really do know how to stand out and make an impression. The younger children, Jas and Twig, are known as 'The Babes', Jas is stubborn to the point of not changing clothes, not brushing her hair, and refusing to do anything she doesn't want to do. Twig tends to fade into the background when he isn't drawing your attention, but that does not mean he is forgettable. Flora is the oldest, and is very frank and straight to the point. She is a typical teenager, dramatic and emotional. Bluebell is the quiet one of the family, although the book is from her perspective, I felt like she faded into the background more than Twig, she is often ignored, or looked over as 'the sensible one' as she makes the least amount of trouble.
Iris may not be living, but she is definitely felt within the pages of this book, in the feeling of loss she left behind with the family, in how they each miss her and try to live with her memory to the best of thier ability, even if it means the parents work way too hard to forget.

I love the whole ides of the rats and the races, and how this pack of rats are treated like real household pets. I liked how the nanny, Zoran, ended up becoming part of the family too, and how much his cooking skills improved. He is part of the reason the children managed to get up to so much trouble.

After Iris was a book that took me on an emotional roller coaster ride. I laughed and cried reading this book. The author has a way of drawing you into this crazy family, and making you feel like an extended part of the family, taking you on a new adventure and getting up to mischief with the children. The emotions that are portrayed are clear for all to see and feel, and I could not help but become emotionally invested in this family.

Final Verdict
After Iris is a great start to a very promising series, and I am so glad I have the next book waiting to be read. I can't wait to see what happens next.

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