Fifteen-year-old Jackie Stone is a prisoner in her own house. Everything she says and does 24/7 is being taped and broadcast to every television in America. Why? Because her dad is dying of a brain tumor and he has auctioned his life on eBay to the highest bidder: a ruthless TV reality show executive at ATN.
Gone is her mom’s attention and cooking and parent-teacher conferences. Gone is her sister’s trust ever since she’s been dazzled by the cameras and new-found infamy. Gone is her privacy. Gone is the whole family’s dignity as ATN twists their words and makes a public mockery of their lives on Life and Death. But most of all, Jackie fears that one day very soon her father will just be . . . gone. Armed only with her ingenuity and the power of the internet, Jackie is determined to end the show and reclaim all of their lives, even in death.
Disclaimer: We received this book via NetGalley courtesy of the publisher (Bloomsbury) This review may contain some things you consider to be spoilers. You have been warned.
Why we chose it: Dying man auctions his life on eBay? Yes please
Review: We’ve written this review so many times that it’s shocking. There have been times where we’ve completed a review we we were quite happy with only yo read back over it and end up chucking the entire thing in the fire. We have realised our problem though. We were limiting ourselves in terms of what we could talk about.
We had caught the Fishbowl effect.
We felt as if restrictions had been placed on us and we struggled to break out of them, but we no longer have said problem and from here on out we’re just going to rave about Life in a Fishbowl by Len Vlahos because for a book to leave a mindset, a mindset that many of the characters share in very different ways means it’s impacting.
There are so many characters woven into the narrative of this novel. There’s five at the very least that we can thing of, but not once did we lose track of them. They are all distinguishable from one another and while some may take up more page time than others, each is relevant in this story.
We’re going to focus on two characters in particular. Glio and Jackie. Glio is confined to the body of Jackie’s Dad, Jared and Jackie herself is locked within her meek personality…or at least she is some of the time. The both taught us something and we’re eager to discuss.
We’re going to start with the tumour. The tumour that had its own chapters and we loved them so very, very much. Glio came to consciousness and gained self-awareness the same way we all do. Suddenly and without any idea as to what our purpose is in life. We know we need to eat when we’re hungry and sleep when we’re tired, but Glio is a tumour as you know and its purpose is feasting on the host that it lives inside. Glio doesn’t know this in the beginning and we learn as it learns.
Glio is insatiable. It consumes the essence of what is Jared with reckless abandon. It eats his memories. It eats his brain tissue. It has no concept of right or wrong and it’s vital the we tell you Glio is, unfortunately not some tumour that can be eradicated with radiation or other treatment. Glio is the endgame and there is no escaping it.
Jared’s demise at the proverbial hands of Glio isn’t something that concerned us as we read. We were more invested in Glio’s growth and development because of Jared. Glio became more than just a tumour and it read more like a burgeoning person too because as Glio feasted on Jared he (as he comes to identify himself as male) developed emotions and wants and wishes.
To see him do that. To see him want to be Jared was so cool to read.
Glio’s journey is one that only had one ending, but when we came to the end of Life in a Fishbowl we hoped for a different one. Hoped for something else. For something impossible and when we mentioned earlier about Glio teaching us something, we meant this…
Sometimes no matter how hard one fights or wants or wishes, there is no escaping the fishbowl that is your body or your life. You will never get out and while it’s a sad lesson, it’s an important one and it is a this point in our review that we must switch to Jackie. Her story tells us something so very different.
The description says: “Armed only with her ingenuity and the power of the internet, Jackie is determined to end the show and reclaim all of their lives, even in death.” and Jackie does take to the internet to reclaim her life and the life of her family, but it’s not something that she does from the get go. Jackie is a timid girl to begin with and she lets people walk all over her.
We’re not a fan of people who are like that so for a while, we weren’t the biggest fan of Jackie, but then some spark lit up inside her and she grew a backbone. She became strong and powerful in a way that we certainly appreciate.
Like Glio, Jackie’s character arc was believable. It wasn’t rushed which is important and she didn’t make ridiculous declarations about her new found strength. She didn’t become overbearing the way some characters do. Instead Jackie retained a quiet demeanour, but one that could no longer be seen as fragile or weak.
It’s through her interactions with her friends and her sister that we saw her grow and Jackie thought us that although some things are impossible to change, there are elements of your life and your person that you can take control of and it was so nice to see this done. Especially in a contemporary novel where magic and dragons and armies aren’t needed for change to come into effect. Only determination and will power.
In concluding our review of Life in a Fishbowl we feel the need to point out that we haven’t even scratched the surface of what happened in this book in terms of plot or anything really. There are so many more lessons that we’ve come away with than you’ve seen us discussing here and while we’d love to share them all with you, we can’t. You need to read it for yourself and come away from it with your own personal lessons learned because we feel this book is definitely one which will affect individuals differently. We want you to see for yourself the excellence that is Life in a Fishbowl so make sure to check it out upon its release. We don’t think you’ll regret it.
AS ALWAYS, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR READING THIS REVIEW! What do you think of the concept of this book? Is it interesting or what? Have any of you read any books lately that have left a mark on you? Let us know what you think in the comments and don’t forget to follow us on:
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