Author: Stewart Foster
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Canada
Genre/Themes: Middle Grade, Fiction, Contemporary
Release Date: May 2nd 2017
Page Count: 352
*Disclaimer: An ARC of Bubble by Stewart Foster was provided to me by Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinion in any way.
I was initially intrigued by Bubble when I first heard its synopsis. It reminded me a lot of Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon as they both deal with kids who suffer from SCID (Severe Combined Immunodeficiency). While I wasn’t very happy with the way that Everything Everything ended, I wanted to give a story with a similar idea another shot. It’s always tough to read about kids that are suffering from serious illnesses, but these stories are important to read and to learn from.
Eleven-year-old Joe has never had a life outside of the hospital, with its beeping machines and view of London’s rooftops. His condition means he’s not allowed outside, not even for a moment, and his few visitors risk bringing life-threatening germs inside his bubble. Then a new nurse offers Joe the possibility of going outside. But Joe doesn’t know if the nurse is serious—or whether he could survive the adventure. Bubble is the touching story of how Joe spends his days, copes with his loneliness and frustration, and looks—with superhero-style bravery, curiosity, and hope—to a future without limits.
What I Liked
The characters. The characters were one of the best aspects of this novel. Although I would have liked to have learned a bit more about a few of them, I did enjoy reading about them. Joe was very naive which makes sense for an 11 year old. While at times I felt frustrated that he couldn’t see how dangerous some of the decisions he was making were, I kept having to remind myself that he was only 11 and probably didn’t know any better.
The realistic aspect. This book didn’t romanticize illness. It was real and at times, heartbreaking. The kids featured in this story are very sick and unfortunately that is something that is all-too-real in our everyday lives. Bubble didn’t sugarcoat any aspect of the illnesses that these kids are suffering from and at times this was hard to read, especially while reading a middle grade novel.
What I Didn’t Like
The writing style. There were a few different aspects of the writing style that I couldn’t really get into. One, the way that these kids were speaking. It was hard for me to remember that they were kids because they just seemed so much older. I kept picturing Joe as a teenager, meanwhile he was only 11. While I don’t think their dialogue needed to be dumbed down, there was just something that was off that made them seem older than they were meant to be. Another aspect of the writing style that threw me off was the way that the text messages and Skype calls were written. They weren’t labeled with the person who was speaking/typing and when the same person spoke two sentences in a row it was really hard for me to understand the flow of the conversation.
The slow pace. This book took me a long time to read even though it should have been quick and easy. I’m still not entirely sure why that was. It just felt like nothing was really happening and then when things did start to happen, it didn’t feel satisfying.
Amir. I just didn’t understand this character at all. How did he get a job as a nurse so easily? How did he get away with everything with barely any punishment? I couldn’t tell what his intentions were or if maybe he was potentially mentally ill. I just wish more was explained.
While it may seem as though I didn’t like a lot of this book, there was plenty to fall in love with. As mentioned, I loved almost all of the characters and the friendships that are found within the story. It was heartbreaking at times, but also uplifting.
About The Author
Stewart Foster lives in Bath and wishes he’d never left school. So he went back to university far too many years later and he wrote a book, We used to be Kings, and then he wrote another, The Bubble Boy, that won Sainsbury’s book of the year 2016 (10+) and The Trinity Schools Book Award 2017. His next book ‘All the things that could go wrong” will be published 28/06/2017.
Thank you for reading!