First of all, thank you so much to Bloomsbury Australia for sending me an early copy of No Filter to review.
I really enjoyed this debut novel. It was a bit of a slow start, but at the time I was extremely bogged down by university work and writing my thesis that I couldn’t invest myself fully into the story until just yesterday, when I flew through the last 150 pages.
There’s no doubt that this is your traditional ‘summer love’ story, but there was also some depth to the romance, which I appreciated.
Both Emerald and Liam have their fair share of family drama and through each other they learn to become better, stronger people. Where Emerald teaches Liam to follow his heart and live out his dreams, Liam teaches Emerald that she must learn to accept her imperfect parents. I really enjoyed reading from Emerald and Liam’s perspectives, although at times I confused the two of them. It was almost like the exact same voice and tone was trying to be forced onto one perspective, when really it was more unique to the other character’s perspective. Another thing too was the somewhat excessive use of exclamation points- they were used in almost every other sentence, and most of the time during emotional scenes that didn’t really warrant them being there. This kind of threw me off at some points during the story, especially during scenes that were actually supposed to be high intensity and high emotion- I just wasn’t exactly sure when and where to feel sad, angry, confused, questioning, excited etc.
However, that being said, I was really impressed with the writing style overall. For a debut novel I was really drawn in by Orlagh’s style. She used analogies and metaphors in a way that actually made sense and worked within the broader feel of the story, but didn’t over-use them to the point where it felt extremely overdone and forced.
I would have liked to have seen some more of Liam’s family, especially his mum. With all of the drama centred around Liam, university, college results, his dad and his dad’s unstable employment status, it felt like Liam’s mum (and even his sisters) weren’t given enough time to really develop as unique characters. It almost felt as though Liam’s mum was there to just be a parent with a different perspective than his dad, and his sister Laura was there to propel the story forward (and add in some drama) when the plot hit a bit of a bump in the road.
That being said though I liked the Flynn family dynamic overall. It was a difficult situation that the family were in- something that I definitely can’t relate to at all- and reading about a character thrown into the middle of it, and struggling with the pressure of being almost responsible to get his family out of it, was really new to me and interesting to read. Even with Emerald’s character, where I also couldn’t identify with her struggling situation. I can’t even fathom what it would be like to be in a situation such as her and her parents’, but all things considered I think that Emerald handled most of it pretty maturely. She seemed almost older than she was at times, and by the end I was on board with her and Liam as a couple. They were better together than apart, and learned from each other in a lot of ways, which I appreciated the author making a strong point of.
I also appreciated the pop culture references, especially about Ed Sheeran (a.k.a my all time favourite musician). Even though it seemed like Emerald and her father were tired of hearing Ed on the radio 24/7, I absolutely didn’t mind it.
I liked how the author incorporated Instagram into the story, and used it to spread a message about social media and how all-consuming it can be, especially for young people. Emerald clearly struggled with social media and online relationships, and I feel like- as a young person myself- it’s something that I’ve also had to deal with. It can be so hard to disconnect and disassociate ourselves from our online presence, and I don’t know if this is just the psychology student in me- but it’s clear to me that a lot of young people base their entire self-perception in what they post online. The Internet itself is such a mighty presence in the lives of young people, and for teenage girls especially it can be a place where self-esteem and self-regard either flourish or crumble entirely.
It was so interesting to read from the perspective of Emerald- who’s struggling with how her ‘real-life friends’ act online- who makes the conscious decision to remove herself entirely from it all, and find her real self in reality. Instead of fussing over who has and hasn’t liked her latest Instagram photo, Emerald focuses on exploring her new, temporary life in Ireland, discovering a new-found relationship with Liam, and even reconnecting with her mum and grandmother too.
The choice that Emerald made is something that I constantly think about- ‘What would my life look like without social media? ‘How would it affect my life and the relationships I have?’. It’s hard to say of course, especially as I’m writing this review and plan to post it online soon, but I think this aspect of the story is something that will resonate strongly with a lot of young readers, and maybe leave a positive, lasting impression too.
It’s winter in Australia, but lately I’ve been really enjoying a good, easy contemporary read set during the summer. With university work starting to pile up, a thesis deadline ever approaching, and so many other adult responsibilities to attend to during my everyday life, it’s been fun to dive straight into an easy, quick “summer” read during the cold weeks of winter.
Also, can we just take a moment to please appreciate how often Liam, Emerald and all of their friendship group went to the pub??? Honestly, I’ve never related to a group of friends so much in my life. What were they all drinking? How long were they there? Was it busy and crowded? Was there a band playing? Was it big or small? I have no idea, but it was all so wonderfully, stereotypically Irish and I absolutely loved it. I wish we had more of the pub setting in the book, but I loved the small taste of Irish culture that we did get.
Overall, I’m definitely impressed by Orlagh’s writing style (even though it took me a while to get the hang of understanding Irish slang) and am so thankful to Bloomsbury for sending me a copy of this book to review. I’m looking forward to seeing what else this author has in store for the world of young adult literature in the future.
I rated No Filter by Orlagh Collins a 3.5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.
No Filter will be available to purchase in Australian bookstores from 1 August, 2017 ($14.99).
My Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/25169575-emilyp0tter