Hello readers of my blog! I understand its been a good while (AN ENTIRE MONTH) since I’ve posted on my blog and I apologise…holiday season you know! Anyway, today I am back with a spoiler-free book review of “The Year of the Rat” by Clare Furniss, kindly sent to me by Simon & Schuster. This story follows a girl named Pearl, and the course of the book is centred around her journey as she deals with her mother’s abrupt death upon the birth of her second daughter. I rated this book a solid 4 out of 5 stars, as I did have quite a few problems with it, though I was very hooked. Towards the beginning, Pearl is burdened with grief over her mother’s sudden death, which occurs around Pearl’s half-sister’s birth. I was immediately hooked from the first page, already liking the writing style, even though I hadn’t been too excited based on the cover and the title. However, also from the beginning of this story, I could already tell that it wasn’t going to be the most original of stories. Maybe I’m too critical, or maybe I’ve just read too many stories like this recently, but I found myself disappointed in the unoriginality of the book, comparing it to works such as If I Stay and We Were Liars. Whereas those stories had left me so engaged in the original and heartbreaking premises, The Year of the Rat did not have any long-lasting impact on me whatsoever. Not only was the cliche-ness an issue, but I just couldn’t connect to the majority of the characters, therefore meaning that I could not become fully invested in the story. I liked characters such as Pearl’s father, her best friend Molly as well as her grandmother, but I felt like all of the characters left just a little bit too much to the imagination. While the raw emotions were portrayed effectively, I still feel as if the characters’ surfaces were displayed without going too much into depth. However, I loved how this book had such strong female protagonists. Granny, Stella, Pearl and even FISH-FINGER BURNER were all such strong characters. It was nice having such reliable characters, though I did feel there was a certain lack of character development. The Year of the Rat, though a very quick read, seemed quite slow at times and didn’t seem to have a complete arc However, the writing and the varying dynamics between different characters was superb. For example, the relationship and romance within the book was extremely subtle, and while it was often very confusing at times, I liked how it wasn’t a main aspect of the plot. Also, I guess in a way it contributes to the “strong women” theme apparent in this book, highlighting that Pearl didn’t need a love-interest to pull her from her grief, and instead used other methods to cope. Additionally, this was a very realistic story in many ways, whether it be Pearl’s reaction to the passing of her mother and her grieving process, or the actions that this process resulted in, such as her often unreasonable and cruel actions. All in all, though this may have seemed like a negative review, I really did enjoy the book, the pros being the basis of the characters as well as the captivating and emotional writing, the cons being the lack of a strong story-arc, originality and character development. But I would definitely recommend this book, but please brace yourself for the feels, because there certainly are a lot of them.