Review: Stones by Polly Johnson

Title: Stones

Author: Polly Johnson

Published: 9th December 2013

Source: Received an ARC copy from Netgalley

stonesCoo is trying to cope with the hand that life has dealt her. At sixteen, she feels she’s too young to have lost her older brother, Sam, to alcoholism. She’s skipping school to avoid the sympathy and questions of her friends and teachers, and shunning her parents, angry that they failed to protect her, and desperate to avoid having to face the fact that, towards the end, she began to wish Sam would leave forever – even die. Then, one day, truanting by the Brighton seafront, Coo meets Banks, a homeless alcoholic and she’s surprised to discover that it is possible for her life to get more complicated.Despite warnings from her friends and family, Coo and Banks develop an unlikely friendship. Brought together through a series of unexpected events, strange midnight feasts, a near drowning and the unravelling of secrets, together they seek their chance for redemption. That is, until Coo’s feelings start getting dangerously out of hand. – Goodreads

My Rating: 3 Thumbs Up

Stones is a story about a girl named Coo, who is suffering from harbored guilt and pain over her older brother’s death. The story explores alcoholism and homelessness, bringing about some heart touching moments. Here, Coo finds a way out of her anger a guilt by befriending an alcoholic (like her brother) and tries to save him from himself.

What I liked most about this book is that the characters are artfully described. Polly is good in that she never tells, always shows. We gather a slow picture of the characters and what the look like. I also like how Stones slowly delves into the issues the characters are going through; not just vomits them up at the beginning like it’s nothing. It really sets the tone of “finding yourself”.

Another great positive about Stones is that there was a real portrayal of grief. Grief and pain can often cloud a story or be painfully unrealistic. Here, I felt as though I had a better understanding of what they were going through, and Coo’s own battles were crystal clear and completely relatable.

The negatives I have about Stones is the disjointed dialogue and lack of setting description. I’m not sure if it’s just the British talk that I don’t understand, or of it really was out of whack – I found it hard to follow at times and didn’t make complete sense. Also, where was the description! I had no idea, through the entirety of the story, what the setting looked like. There was little bits here and there, but mostly nothing. I found the majorly frustrating, because I either had to make it up just look at the words.

There was also little character development – aside from Coo’s growth. None of the character really grew into their skin, proved their personality and did something to show the inner workings of their brain. Nada. Zilch. Character development is one of the most important aspects of a story for me, it gives it layers like an onion, so this was a real let down.

If there were just a little bit of description, some development of character other than Coo, then I might have really liked Stones. I did love Coo’s growth though, and the slow progression of the book was paced just right. I even enjoyed the ending, which I did not see coming. Overall, Stones was an average story in my perspective. Not bad, but not amazing.



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