Book Review – Carnage by Lesley Jones

by Maryse on May 18, 2014 · 22 comments

in My Book Reviews

*whoooo* I’m absolutely drained. Emotionally, but it almost seems… physical. I feel like I’ve been put through the wringer, and I can’t even tell you how I feel coming out of it. Well… no I know exactly how I feel, I just can’t tell you, so you don’t go in with pre-conceived notions. neutral This is another book that is best not knowing anything, to get the full impact. And boy does it hit hard.

I received adamant, emotional recommendations and I was soooo intrigued that I posted it on a recent reader recommendation list:

Linh: Maryse….just finished Carnage and I am completely destroyed! This book will give me a book hangover for days…weeks…I am sure. You have to read it. It gutted me.

Louise: Maryse,  you must, must must read  ’Carnage’ by Lesley Jones; it is so beautiful.

Kasey: Oh gosh I just finished Carnage by Lesley Jones. It’s a 10 stars if possible. You will laugh, scream, and cry like an ugly baby. I have never been so gutted by a book. I would say it just hit my all time favorite book so far of 2014. And that’s saying a lot since I read 5-10 books a week. I don’t want you to miss out on this experience of a book!!!

Lucy Ann: I read Carnage because of your post! It was brutal and brilliant. It has angst, covered in angst on a bed of angst! I think you’ll love it!

How could I resist? This sounded exactly like what I was looking for.

So I shifted my TBR list (yep… totally *squirreled* over this one) and I jumped right in, experiencing a plethora of emotions. From detached and somewhat listless (the beginning of the book was a real rough start for me), to fairly consumed through the second half (pretty much read it non-stop at that point) to… well. I’ll stop there. Just know that once I hit the last quarter, I was a reading fiend, and I think I blew a certain emotional fuse *somewhere* along the way (for self-preservation). I won’t tell you where, when and if… er. Sheeeeeesh I can’t say anything about this book!! I really can’t and it’s for your own reading good.

Am I glad I stuck with it? Yes. Did it make me feel? Yes (and non-stop once we got to 50-60% of it)! And that’s mostly all I really want when I read. And I say mostly, ’cause in reality, I want a certain kind of oomph and writing style to capture me right from the start (or at least soon into the story). If not, it’s a lot of work.

It was a persistent, insistent journey for me to finally get there.

Maryse: Okay I’m trying out Carnage. It starts off when she’s eleven and meets the teenage boy that’s probably gonna end up “carnaging” her heart later. ;) LOL!! Mind you, I’m not 100% “in” yet ’cause I don’t quite get the appeal of this eleven year old, and she thinks like a 16 year old, so I’m wishing she was that age, at least. We’ll see. The writing (or her thoughts) are kind of erratic and run-on sentence-y, too, but that may just be the “eleven year old feel” to her. All I know is that at 11, I definitely did not have any of the thoughts (or er… physique) that she had, so I’m having a hard time relating. Hope I feel it soon.

Maryse: Okay, not far into it at all, but I’m gonna hold off for a bit… Ill try it again in a few ’cause wow the reviews are pretty excited but I’m having a hard time connecting to the writing style.

Julie: 1/4 the way through Carnage this morning and can’t put it down!

Maryse: Darn. Now I just saw Julie’s comment about Carnage up there and she’s a quarter in and loving it. Am I skipping out to quickly do you think?

Julie: I right there with you on Carnage. In my head I had to age her up to 16 and go from there. Plus I gad heard the book was not well edited so I was prepared going it. I’m at 42% and loving it – very angsty!

Jan: Maryse, Please, don’t give up on Carnage.

Linh: Like you…I was able to put it down in the beginning but it does get better.

Pam: Maryse… I liked the story, but the 65 word run on sentences (yes, I counted some) completely made me cringe. I had to make myself finish…. But the storyline was good

Maryse: Okay I haven’t given up on Carnage yet. The writing is definitely still “flighty” and the run-on sentences make me lose my breath (LOL!! – even though I’m reading in my head). ;) But the reviews are pretty much all “MUST READ IT sooooooooo good, favorite of 2014 etc etc…” and the less than stellar reviews I’ve skimmed ’cause it seems their “upset” is in a certain part of the storyline, so I don’t want to spoil it for myself.

Melinda: Oh maryse, you have to finish carnage. Soooo good. Just make sure at the end you have a box of tissues with you. The ****** stays with you. It’s a really beautiful story. Featuring a rock star and a musical family. It’s a must read. If there’s a sequel I’m reading it. Once you get into it about 50% you can’t put down. <— side note from Maryse: This is true! 50% and it pretty much became the book I was hoping it would be.

Maryse: Okay I’m half way through. :) It’s been a slow-go for me so far (’cause I’ve been starting & stopping) but I have a feeling the 2nd half is gonna blow me away, considering so many of the reactions to it. Here I go…

Julie: I finished Carnage. TBH, I’m not sure how I feel about it. Even with the ages off & the editing issues, it consumed me. I thought I knew where it was going but then I didn’t. And, then there was *********, which kept it from being 5 star for me. But I know I’ll be reading the sequel as soon as it’s released.

Maryse: Julie I just finished and I just told my husband exactly what you said.

Amy: So, not wanting spoilers here, but is the ending of Carnage heavy, emotional, cliffhangery, frustrating? I’ve avoided the reviews and all because of possible spoilers, but I would like to know what I’m getting into. I’m about **% into a book that is going to make me ugly cry here shortly, and I don’t want to jump into another one right away that might work me over as well. And I am *not* in the mood to end up going on a tirade either if it pisses me off. ;)

Maryse: Amy… I’m just gonna say I blew an “emotional fuse”. ;) I gotta get it replaced yet again. :P

I went from feeling nothing and being a bit confused as to why this one was making such waves amongst our reading community (’cause I was struggling with the writing style) to completely “getting it” and why so many of you were loving it.

It was being touted as a 2014 favorite, but had it not been for your support and promises that it gets better, this would 99% have been a DNF for me. Yep. I know. I know it sounds harsh, but it does get there, and if I had gone on my “first quarter to first half” impressions, I likely would not have stuck with it. It DOES get better. In fact, it gets much better. Maybe even REALLY good (if you like angsty love triangles, heartache and rock-star life drama). And I know many of you do.

Heck. I dunno if I just “got used” to the writing, or if the writing just got that much better (<— I suspect this), but I still stand by my opinion that the beginning (and I’ll just say first half altogether) is needing editing to turn this into the angsty guilty-pleasure (laden in emotion) that it eventually becomes. That it so deserves to be. And had it not been for this book’s cheerleaders (my wonderful fellow readers), I wouldn’t have lasted past 30%. And I likely would have given up sooner. I was too distracted by the flighty thoughts, the creepy innuendoes in regards to these young girls, the self-centered shallow thoughts, and their bad-girl lifestyles (and allowances) even though there were barely (and I mean barely) teenagers. Mix all of that in with the excessive run-on sentences, and overuse of commas (in place of periods) and I was too busy questioning the quality of the writing, to be able to get excited about where this could possibly go.

Boy would I have missed out had it not been for those that had already read it. And because I’m certain not everyone picking this up for the first time will have the support and encouragement that I did to continue reading, I worry that they will go the same way I almost did. Which was onto something else.

Now maybe I’m missing something. Maybe the author was trying to “convey” the personality and thought processes of a pre-teen/teenager and this was how she went about it. Maybe she wanted us to get past the beginning stages of “them”, fast-forwarding us so we could get on to the juicy part of the real story. However, to me, it was just so scattered and fast-moving that I was more irritated with the characters, than invested (or interested) in them. But once it hit it’s stride, I was finally right there with it.

So what’s it about?

It’s a love story about a young girl that falls in love with a boy that becomes her whole world… even as he (and his eventually famous band) grow up to become everyone else’s whole world.

Preteen Georgia (raised with teen brothers that are in a band) meets their friend Sean and well… it’s love at first sight (for her… maybe even for him?) I dunno this is a part of the squig-factor, but they start aging quickly enough once the introduction happens for the love story part of it to become acceptable.

She doesn’t know it yet, but they will become best friends and eventually lovers but not without their fair share of angsty turmoil. ‘Cause you know… where there’s an up and coming rock band, there are drugs, alcohol and… groupies. Paparazzi, misunderstandings, family drama and secrets… and other potential love interests making their move. I went from teaming one way, to another to back again, and I was guilt-ridden over it. <— LOL!! And still I don’t regret the huge love-swings that I experienced. But I really can’t tell you anything more than this.

So here’s how I experienced it: some of it, soap-ish tawdry. Some of it over-the-top and melodramatic. Some of it awesome. It goes (to me) from rough-reading, to guilty-pleasure good. But at a certain point? Poignant and heartrending and eloquent. <—- And OMG I loved it.

The title says it all, my friends. This one came highly recommended by our fellow readers and boy did it end up delivering. I’m at a loss for words right now. Well not really looking up there at my rambling. I ended off, not sure how I even feel about the book. I know for a fact I’ll never forget it. And I know overall, I enjoyed it as it took me on one heck of an emotional roller-coaster. Just as promised. And I absolutely will be reading the sequel.

No… it doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, but there’s definitely more to the story, and I will be there again, living it with them some more.

3.5 stars <— I’m still kind of a jumbled mess on how I feel overall because I really feel I had to work to finally “get there” in my connection. It was touch and go for a good portion of it, for me, and if it hadn’t been for my fellow readers, I would likely not have finished this. No one, that is a “casual reader” (or even frequent reader) should have to get through the whole first half of a book to finally start liking it and/or connecting to it. This is the reason for my rating. So let’s just say: 3 stars or less for the first half (depends now which part you ask me about), and 4 to 4.5 stars for the second half.

P.S. If you want to experience it (the best part of “it”), please be careful reading reviews. This one makes us readers react strongly! ;) Just… avoid ‘em for now and be prepared for anything!

P.P.S. Did I cry like an “ugly baby” like Kasey said? <—- LOL I can’t stop cracking up over that!!! Er… no, but that’s only ’cause I was so emotionally overwhelmed that I think I blew that emotion-fuse. ;)

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{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Barb May 18, 2014 at 8:11 PM

Maryse, I agree fully with your review! I had a hard time getting into this book and although it got better, I don’t think it is all that epic. The last quarter blew my mind but the entirety of the book was just okay.

Maryse May 18, 2014 at 8:26 PM

Yep that last quarter… *whooooo* for sure. I think i’ll have to “sleep on it” to have a better idea overall.

BookwormDrea May 18, 2014 at 8:46 PM

I am so glad to read your review-after reading all the others, I thought it was just me! I couldn’t tell if the absolute run-on (and on and on…) sentences were supposed to be 11 yo stream of consciousness, but I struggled through the 1st half for all of the same reasons. The 2nd half kept me glued bc I kept waiting for the “shoe to drop” on her. I admit, I did cry buckets at the end, though, bc I did love him!

Danielle May 18, 2014 at 9:13 PM

Finally a book available to read on Amazon prime I dont have to buy!
Will read it for free tonight!!

Pam May 18, 2014 at 9:15 PM

Spot on… Once again… You’re kind of amazing!!

Linh May 18, 2014 at 10:19 PM

Yes!!! Perfect review. The beginning was hard but the ending hit me like a freight train so I sorta forgot the beginning. Edited better, this would have been a five star.

Celeste May 18, 2014 at 11:42 PM

I couldn’t finish it. I tried starting this a few months ago and put it down. My theory is there are just too many good books out there to waste time on those that don’t grab me. I read for fun, so if I’m not enjoying myself, there’s no point.

Julie May 19, 2014 at 7:10 AM

Perfect review! I’m still in book hangover on this on & can’t stop thinking about it. I want to mention parts of it so bad, but can’t spoil it!

Rica May 19, 2014 at 8:22 AM

It’s been two days since I read this book and have read 3 or 4 books after it and I’m still thinking about it.

Julie May 19, 2014 at 8:41 AM

Maryse, I tried to read this awhile back and liked it at first but then it dragged for me so I put it down. I think the writing put me off but after reading your review, I may pick it back up!

julie May 19, 2014 at 9:08 AM

I did read that this book is being professional edited and will be offered as a free upgrade when available. Even with it’s flaws, I’m glad I read it! There were a few tangents that I’m looking forward to playing out in book #2.

Melissa May 19, 2014 at 11:21 AM

I want to read it because you have never steered me wrong, but the beginning sounds like it would frustrate me to no end. I bought it, but It might sit on my TBR list for a bit.

Danielle May 20, 2014 at 12:27 PM

I started reading this a few days ago and Maryse is right. The first half of the book I had to skim because it is in dire need of some editing. But once you hit a certain point, it gets good. Now I cant wait to see what happens. Im disappointed Im more than half way through and it just started to get going!

Amber May 20, 2014 at 1:01 PM

I am nearing the end of the book and I feel completely shredded……what a powerful, emotional read.

Tessa May 20, 2014 at 9:33 PM

Maryse, thank you for the recommendation. I just finished the book and I am still trying to process it. You were right about the first half of the book, it was pretty hard to get through. But once you I did, I was in for a ride. Thank you!
P.S. By any chance do you know when book 2 is coming out?

Trisha Sullivan May 21, 2014 at 11:34 AM

Holy Cow Batman!!! I cried like a freakin’ baby and I rarely cry about anything. It broke my heart several times. I will say I fell in LOVE with Cam….. It was just so angsty, sorrowful, what might actually happen in real life. People make mistakes and take wrong turns not to mention the broken to never regain again dreams of a life that was right at her fingertips…..crappers I am about to cry typing this. This book was WOW, just perfectly written I read it in hours. I pulled an all nighter reading it, just simply lost track of time by submerging in the story……which is why I am a book addict and this was a grand fix for my addiction. Thanx, Maryse

Anne June 30, 2014 at 9:11 PM

I disagree with most of you. This book had me from the start and I couldn’t put it down. I will go so far as to say that it is one of the best books I’ve ever read. The love shared between Georgia and Sean transcends words and it is a book that will stay with me for a long time. Although . . . a sequel? I’m not sure how that would work.

Kathy July 8, 2014 at 1:16 PM

Hi everyone, I read. A lot. It’s how I spend my time during the slow business days and when my other half is away on business. This book had some great non spoiler reviews that made me want to read it. I had no problem with the slang. I even had no problem with the way the story started with them being so young. I mean the early 80′s was a completely different time to now. I was just a bit younger then they were in the story so I remember the times and the way girls were then… and the boys. All that being said I did struggle with the beginning of the book. Nothing to do with the slowness or ick factor. Just more to do with the style. Certain things I noticed, for example certain terms of endearments with the siblings I don’t remember in the beginning that all of a sudden became the norm. It seems to me like the biggest problem with the first third of the book is that the editing lets it down. If you can get over certain issues with the beginning of the book it is a heart wrenching story that I still can’t get my head around after having finished it almost three days ago. It was a bit of a slow starter and just as it started to get going and you think the story is starting to take shape and you start falling in love (or is it lust?) with the characters BOOM it changes. You don’t love them anymore. You fall out of love and you want to shout and scream at them. It seems that’s when the story starts to grab you. It sucks you in and that’s the thing. Does the style get better? The editing improve? Or is it that the characters just grow up and you are able to relate to them because they are no longer children and the ickiness is no longer there because they are adults? I understand everyone’s issues with the book. I understand the mixed reviews. I understand it all. I just wish that after almost three days I can get over the end. I am still heartbroken and really still trying to understand how. Just how. I can’t say more without saying too much. Just why and how. Also when. When did I get so emotional attached? I’m thankful for the reviews that I’ve read here and else where that helped me decided to give this book a chance. On one hand thank you, on the other I don’t. It doesn’t feel just like characters in a book. I do honestly feel as though I’ve lost a part of me, of something special and I don’t thank you cause I honestly don’t know if I can’t take the sequel. How do you come back? For anyone who is still trying to get past the beginning. All I can say is that it is a roller coaster of a read and at the end you will be emotionally burnt out. It’s been almost three days and I’m still yet to pick up another book. Do I recommend this book. Defiantly! Will I ready the sequel? You can bet you t**s on it, I just need to make use that I’m emotionally ready for the next chapter in this story.

mica July 31, 2014 at 11:51 PM

Maryse, i agree with your review. The book was a 3 star read for me. I read ‘My Skylar’ by Penelope Ward and ‘Carnage’ a couple of days apart and I couldn’t stop comparing the two books.
I loved ‘My skylar’.
I couldn’t get into the first half of this book. I wasn’t moved by the events that unfolded and I ended up skipping a few pages at the beginning.
I enjoy reading your reviews.

solange December 17, 2014 at 1:47 PM

ok. this is my first time commenting on any blog…EVER. that says a lot about how mush I just loved CARNAGE #1 and #2…2 a little more than 1, I have to say. I loooved the dialogues, the steamy scenes…and just everything about it. I am not familiar with the british slangs and witty humor, but got used to it at some point and just dove into the story. I have to say this story will stay with me for a looong time. it’s up there with Fifty Shades for me. For those of you who read it, i am teamCAMERON all the way, although I loved the strong and sweet bond Georgia shared with Sean. And the ending! OMG! Ok enough. Read this, people…you won’t regret it.

Sheila Lawrence January 6, 2015 at 9:53 AM

I have to say that I’m scared to death to read this book. Unfortunately, I read a review that spoiled the end……..and even though that usually doesn’t bother me because I enjoy reading the whole story so much, I’m just really afraid this will be one of those books that I have a hard time recovering from. The last book that did that to me was The Fault in Our Stars, and I still don’t think I’m over that one after many months! (Even though now it’s like an addiction that keeps me re-reading it over and over again)
I guess what I’m wondering is- Is it truly worth the pain to read? Or is it better to save my heart and soul by just skipping it?

Suzanne February 19, 2018 at 5:04 PM

I finally got around to reading this book which I have just finished and so like many others have cried my eyes out. I loved the characters and the dialogue.

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