Becoming Marta – The Review
MARCH 1, 2016
Becoming Marta by Lorea Canales (Translated by Gabriel Amor)
I fancied something a bit different after all the young adult fantasy and sci-fi I’ve been reading recently. Most of the books waiting for me on my kindle I have gotten for free through recommendations I receive daily from BookBub. This has been a great source of free reads, and there have been some real gems, but a lot of them have been the first book in a series by a newish author, the idea being to get you hooked. Until I read this book, I didn’t realise how much I had gotten used to less polished writing.
Don’t get me wrong, I love reading stuff written by new authors, and I’m not a snob about writing styles. To me, it’s the story and the characters that matter. But good writing just makes the whole process more enjoyable and I have to say, this book was a breath of fresh air.
It also wasn’t what I expected. I got this for free as part of the Amazon ‘Kindle First’ program – I could choose from 6 new releases and this seemed an interesting choice. I made a conscious decision not to go for the thriller/murder mystery/cop options and try something different.
And it was different. The story is not in chronological order. Each chapter focuses in on a different time in the life of Marta, her parents, her father’s new wife, her step-sister or her friend Mau. Each chapter brings a new richness to the characters there-in, exploring how they became who they are and how this leads Marta to becoming who she is at the end of the book. Each chapter challenges all the preconceptions you have of the individual characters based on what you knew so far. No one is quite as they seem and hardly anyone is as Marta sees them. It is challenging. You just want the characters to sit down and talk to each other, spilling their guts like characters in feel-good or rom-com movies do. But they don’t because that’s not the world they live in or the kind of book this is.
After reading so much young adult literature, this book felt so sophisticated and grown up. The stakes weren’t life or death but the themes rang true and deeper than what I have become accustomed to. It was not a fun read, but it was absorbing and gave me an insight into another culture I knew little of.
Amor has done a fantastic job translating this. I have no idea how the original language reads, but this flows beautifully. It has to with such a convoluted timeline. And Canales reveals just the right amount in it each chapter, making the time jumping worth while rather than distracting.
This book is character rather than story driven. There is a story, but it’s not a plot or a mystery or an adventure, it’s the lives of the characters all woven together to show how these people became who they are and how each person’s life effects everyone else’s.
Would I read it again? Probably not. Do I recommend it? Yes… to the over 18s (there is some sex, some of it graphic, it does all serve the story though). Did I enjoy a foray into adult fiction? Definitely. And it was very nice to read something so well written. But I might go back to my sci-fi now….
Readability: 9/10. Character: 10/10. Inventiveness: 7/10. Overall: 8/10.
Time to read: 3 hours, 37 mins
The Story Lover
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