Monday, 31 March 2014

All Our Pretty Songs (All Our Pretty Songs #1) by Sarah McCarry

Description from Goodreads:

The first book in an exciting YA trilogy, this is the story of two best friends on the verge of a terrifying divide when they begin to encounter a cast of strange and mythical characters.

Set against the lush, magical backdrop of the Pacific Northwest, two inseparable best friends who have grown up like sisters—the charismatic, mercurial, and beautiful Aurora and the devoted, soulful, watchful narrator—find their bond challenged for the first time ever when a mysterious and gifted musician named Jack comes between them. Suddenly, each girl must decide what matters most: friendship, or love. What both girls don’t know is that the stakes are even higher than either of them could have imagined. They’re not the only ones who have noticed Jack’s gift; his music has awakened an ancient evil—and a world both above and below which may not be mythical at all. The real and the mystical; the romantic and the heartbreaking all begin to swirl together, carrying the two on journey that is both enthralling and terrifying.

And it’s up to the narrator to protect the people she loves—if she can.


The first thing that captured my attention in All Our Pretty Songs was the amazing, lyrical language. At times I felt like I was reading poetry rather than fiction. McCarry used beautiful and gripping imagery that sucked you right into the world and made you see the world like the nameless narrator did - you feel like you are experiencing the same things, right there, with her.

I don't think I can emphasise enough the fact that I loved the magical realism in the book. I have loved the genre since I read One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez in high school, and it can be an amazing experience if you read a well written magical realism. There were various scenes in the book when you start to question if the events are really happening or are they just happening in the narrators own mind. I think the fact that the narrator is a recreational drug user just confuses the readers' perception of the events even more. Is this all real, or just her imagination? And the fact that you can never be sure made me really like this book. 

I was really surprised that even though the book did contain quite a bit of angst, it didn't really bother me. I'm usually hate books which have main characters who are overly emotional and dwell on their misery, but I wasn't really bothered by the plentiful angst this time. But I think I was able to overlook it because the readers are well aware of the narrator and her best friend's, Aurora's, situation: neglected by the parents, and having to rely on each other while being still adolescents themselves, on every issue.

All Our Pretty Songs deviates from the other young adult books in terms of how the major themes are presented and addressed in the book - most of the time, especially the painful, issues are sugar coated and treated as something that will pass with time. However, the current book took a long hard look at issues such as excessive partying, friendship, drug use, casual sex, growing up, and intra-familial neglect and what sort of consequences these had on the girls and their future. All Our Pretty Songs gives, maybe unintentionally, a wake-up call of what living without rules can do to a person.

However, there were things that I didn't really like. The love interest, Jack, left me completely cold. Apparently he was supposed to be this charismatic, artistic, and insightful guy, but we don't really learn that much about him, not to even mention that I felt like he was playing with the nameless narrator and didn't even really care that much for her in the end. But at some point I started to wonder that maybe All Our Pretty Songs wasn't really about romantic love at all? 

The book also took its time to present the supernatural element, and at some point I was even wondering if I had misunderstood it being an urban fantasy book. In a way it was rather refreshing that the supernatural wasn't thrown in the readers faces straight away, but there was a long (and also a bit anxious) wait before it was revealed in which fantasy sub genre the book belonged to. But the wait definitely was worth it as it was quite surprising to me and I think the book took an interesting, new approach to the supernatural. 

I can very honestly say that I hadn't read a book before and after reading All Our Pretty Songs that reminds me of this book. There was something quite unique about the book, most likely due to the lyrical language and magical realism, that made you to think about the book even days after finishing it. But then again there were quite a lot of angst and sometimes it was difficult to relate to the nameless narrator which definitely lowered my opinion of the book. I think you need to read the book to understand what I mean. This quote quite well sums up the book:
"This is a story about love, but not the kind of love you think. You'll see."


  1. This one sounds really interesting, and I love unreliable narrators too...but I have a problem with love triangles :(.

    I read One Hundred Years of Solitude when I was in high school too! And I've reread it many times since then. I didn't even know magical realism was a genre at the time. Well, to be precise...I didn't even know magical realism existed! :).

    1. I don't really care for love triangles either, and to add to this, it wasn't really well executed in All Our Pretty Songs.

      Magical realism is one my favourite genres, even though most of the books that I end up reading don't belong to the genre. At least I have to have a certain state of mind to read magical realism. :)


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