Book Review: ‘Life in a Fishbowl’ by Len Vlahos.

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affects my opinion of the book. Quotes below may differ in the final published version of the book.

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Life in a Fishbowl is the story of Jackie, a young girl who adores her father and is devastated when she hears that he has a brain tumour and only has a few months to live.

At the beginning of the novel, Jackie’s father auctions off his own life on eBay to the highest bidder, wanting to earn enough money to leave his family comfortable after his death. The result of this is that he and his family end up in a reality TV show, at the end of which his death will be televised.

We see things from Jackie’s point of view, but also from that of her father, from the people bidding on his life, and even from the point-of-view of the tumour that is eating away at Jackie’s dad’s memories and consciousness. I loved these scenes from the tumour’s POV: I had never read anything like it before and found it fascinating.

However, the book as a whole was unmemorable. I got about eighty percent of the way through it when I suddenly realised that I was still waiting for the book to get going. This isn’t to say that nothing happened – quite a lot had happened at this point – but the writing still felt very introductory, like it was still setting the story and the characters up. As a result, the ending felt rushed and the character didn’t feel fully formed.

I had some issues with the lack of setting and realism in the book:

Two minutes after Jackie sent the message, she received a Facebook friend request from GuinevertheGlad.

NO NO NO NO NO.

Facebook is not MSN or a forum. (Remember MSN?!) Hazel may be a big WoW fan but I don’t think she would create a username for Facebook. She’s too tech-savvy for that. If the author knew anything about ‘kids today’, then he would know that they just use their first name and last name on Facebook (with the odd nickname that no one actually uses thrown in).

This may seem picky, but it made me screw up my nose and suggested to me that Vlahos had not done his research. It made me very aware that the author was having difficulty getting into the mind of a teenager, and therefore the whole thing felt very forced. All of the characters were flat. The only ‘character’ that I felt was unique and interesting was the tumour!

There was an interesting story idea behind this book, but it wasn’t executed well. It wasn’t executed BADLY, either – it was just very ‘meh’.

My Rating: 3/5

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