The November Girl

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 14 Nov 2017

Member Reviews

When I saw “the lake is my mother” in the blurb for this book, I wasn’t at all sure what to expect from this novel, but I was intrigued to say the least. And the book is definitely an interesting read. Anda, one of the main characters, is part human, park lake–yes, you read that correctly–and is called the Witch of November, as every year at that time, she causes massive storms in Lake Superior which causes shipwrecks and drownings. Hector, the second main character, is a biracial (Korean and black) boy who has been living with his abusive uncle since he was six years old, and finally, he has the means to runaway. He just so happens to run to Anda’s island at the end of October, and once they discover each other’s presence, November becomes a violent bid for mutual survival.

I enjoyed this novel a lot! While it was often slow at times, the writing was neat and easy to read. The pacing was generally smooth, and I liked that it wasn’t a single, first person point of view but showed both of them and clearly indicated when we were switching, without head hopping.

Additionally, both characters were incredibly dynamic. Anda’s battle between embracing her humanity and continuing to exist as the destructive force she’s become in giving into the urging of her lake side is so completely felt. It’s obvious how hard she struggles to understand Hector’s life, and the life of humans in general, and tries to emulate their behaviors and speech patterns. The strength of the lake is extremely compelling, and I give Anda kudos for being able to hold out and realizing that she has choices, that causing destruction and death during November isn’t the only way to appease the side of her that needs death to survive.

Though I loved Anda, Hector was much more relatable for me, perhaps because of his recognizable humanity, or maybe just because he was a more complex character. I would argue he is, which isn’t to say that Anda is flat, but the depth to which we dive into Hector’s life and psyche makes him a much more interesting character for me. It’s impossible not to empathize with this boy who is stuck in so many different worlds but doesn’t feel he actually belongs in any of them. It’s incredibly difficult to avoid the urge to fight the world for him and protect him from anything that might hurt him–including himself. Hector is a beautiful boy, lost at sea, trying to find his way in the world and escape the abusive household he lives in, and if you don’t end up rooting for him, I’m not sure we’ve even read the same book.

The whole book was an excellent read, but truly, my favorite part of the book was near the end, when Hector is in the hospital and he receives a new social worker who actually listens to and believes him, and does everything he can to help Hector achieve emancipation and escape his uncle and the father who never cared about him. That chapter was both heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time.
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Beautiful romance that keeps you going straight to the end.
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Something about this book didn't work with me. Although the focus of this is mostly Anda coming to terms with the fact that she is the November girl, leading to most of it being just pushing Anda.

Also, do I mention that this is narrated by two characters. And Hector, feels like an extra above everything else. He has nothing which makes me interested or even invested in him. Just that he is going to help Anda in some way. And that his character will fall in love with her, which is just plain strange in my view.

As for the writing, it just doesn't work for me. It seriously didn't work for me, the more I tried to read it just didn't work for me. And really hampered my ability to enjoy this work. The writing just really failed me.

Although the release date fits the title, but little else makes sense for me there. I just couldn't find something which made me able to read through all of this work. And hence, you can see why this just didn't work for me. Not because it is terrible, but the writing was not to my taste and the characters if anything was weird to me.
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While I loved the premise of the book, and the atmosphere that surrounded the characters, I was quite put off by the fact that I felt lost in the beginning of the book. It was like I had opened a book right by the middle and was thrown in with a couple of characters running from something without entirely knowing why (in her case is made more clear via cryptic lines and hints) and failing to connect with them. And while the casual glimpses between them and the alternate chapters between Anda and the boy began offering a bit more of light I just couldn't connect with the characters or care for them, sadly.
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This book did a lot of things really well even with it's fairly minor cast and limited setting, which obviously meant that the character development was key here. I think the author accomplished exactly what she was looking to do. It read like a Disney movie really, and I honestly think Anda would make an AWESOME Disney Princess. This story also made me really wonder about the world it exists in. Is she the only one with this kind of origin story and powers or are there others for different elements/seasons? Pretty cool.

The only thing I didn't enjoy as much was that it just didn't seem like there were any real stakes. I never got the vibe that either character was really in danger at any point, because of how quickly the rescue seemed to come and it was so built up.

I think I would have liked this book more if I was younger, but it was still memorable.
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Holy moly oly. Let me just take a second to say that whatever I expected this book to be ... this was NOT it. And I mean that in the absolute best way possible. This was a riveting and emotional tale that had me glued to it for hours at a time. The themes of this book, although at times disturbing (Anda really likes death, okay), are heartfelt and thought provoking. Kang has a way with words that makes the setting of Isle Royale and the characters inhabiting it come to life in a magical and beautiful way. I'd read this again and would definitely recommend.
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This book perfectly sums up everything I love about magical realism. It's a really eery story and sometimes it gets a bit creepy, but it's never horror so don't expect that.

Anda is the daughter of the lake, and she isn't used to being around other people than her dad. The writer makes this clear in very clever ways. The way Anda thinks about the most normal things is both funny and absurd, but I loved everything about her.

Hector is a runaway with a heavy background story. You get to know him more throughout the book, and the farther you get the more everything starts to make sense. He has a very morbid sense of humour and I liked that a lot about him. He never takes himself seriously. At times I felt really bad for him. He was such an interesting character, everything about him was special.

The combination of two very abstract characters made this a very interesting read. Although there are only two characters for the biggest part of this book, you actually never notice that and they make for such a cute pair!

It's hard to say if this book is a slow or a fast paced book, because the pace varies a lot. At times it went quite slowly but at sometimes, like the ending, there was quite some action going on! And, we need to talk about that ending!! The ending was so so so beautifully executed. It read like a real thriller and easily had me on the edge of my seat. I. Just. Had. To. Know. How. It. Would. End!!!
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The story was such a beautiful, dark, spooky, dangerous love story! Which is what I’m completely in to. I was fully captured since the beginning of the book. It was incredible to see how human beings are able to understand both good and evil. I LOVED IT!
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Finding a book that takes you into a different world and allows you to experience it "first hand" is rare.  I'm so excited about this book because it does all of that and so much more.  My favorite part of reading is when I can feel what the character feels even if I've never felt it.  This book is a total assault on the senses and will leave you screaming for more when it ends.
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Surrounding the bones of this PNR of two lonely teens falling in love, is a story that is deep in gorgeous imagery and heavy in themes. Although Hector and Anda seem very different at first, they have both grown up feeling like two halves of different things. He of two heritages ("Too Korean or too American. Too Black, or not Black enough.") and she is split between her human and other nature. They both carry darkness and pain within them. She embracing the death of ships and sailors to live, he running from horrors at home. Based on who Anda is, and what Hector's running from, it doesn't seem like these two would find something in each other, but somehow they make perfect sense as a pair. 

This story is heavily romance focused and for much of the book, Hector and Anda are the only characters present. I enjoyed watching them get to know each other as they worked to survive on a lonely island. One criticism: I did think Hector's level of surprise at finding out about what Anda is at the end, was a little over done, especially, as he'd been observing her for a month or so by that point. I mean, it was pretty clear she wasn't normal!

Near the end the story picks up in intensity - both emotional and physical danger - and I was turning pages quickly. I would have liked an epilogue, or at least a little more at the end. But this is a solid tale with lot of depth and an ending that left me satisfied. 

Love Triangle Factor: None
Cliffhanger Scale: Standalone

*Note, I will be putting a review on my blog in the next couple of weeks.
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What a strange book... I get the sense that Lydia Kang really likes romance focused stories, and even though this is a very odd premise, I actually think it's well executed for what it is. Not really my thing at all, but I did appreciate the morally gray female main character! Would recommend for fantasy readers who don't mind a heavy romantic element.
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Honestly, I wasn't expecting this book. What I was expecting from the blurb was not what I got. And I mean that in a very good way.

This book is deep, intense, and rich. There are so many layers to each character, they just keep unfolding as you turn the page.

Throughout the book you follow Hector and Anda, learning a little more about each one and their history as they appear on the page. Hector is 17 and running away to an island to hide out until he turns 18 in the Spring. He thinks the island is deserted each Fall and Winter, but he finds that Anda is also on the island. But Anda has secrets of her own, and her innocence is only rivaled by her danger. 

The tale that Lydia Kang weaves here is absolutely spell bounding and I highly recommend it.

I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.

3.5 stars
I definitely enjoyed this book. However, it did not blow me away.

Hector lives in an abusive situation and this time he wants to run away for good. He goes to Isle Royale in Lake Superior to hide until he is 18 so he can get out of living situation. Once he arrives on the Isle he meets Anda. Anda has some secrets of her own especially about her parentage. As the two try to survival the harsh November storms, Hector finds out that there is something odd about this girl on the island.

Anda and Hector are very likable characters. It is not hard to sympathise with Hector once you know his backstory. Anda has done some more questionable things but as she makes a way into Hector's heart so she does into the readers' hearts.

Kang doesn't shy away from the harsh reality of surviving on an island in winter with almost no food. Nor does she shy away from the harshness of the November storms. Although, I wonder if the November storms are really that bad around the area of Lake Superior. Probably not? Correct me if I am wrong.

Anda's abilities were very nicely done. Although, I am a bit biased because I am a huge fan of Avatar the Last Airbender so everything that reminds me of that makes me happy. In this case, Anda's power to control the storms and the water reminded me of water- and airbending.
I also liked how on some areas of the island she had more control and on other parts she had less. It showed the limits and I feel like that is not always very well done in other fiction.

I would recommend this book is you like to read about people with superpowers, small mysteries and magical realism.
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I have been waiting a long time for this book to come out and I'm so excited to have a review copy from the publisher via Netgalley.

The story didn't disappoint. Anda is a strange girl, but so strong. She lives alone on an island and has a secret, but everything changes when Hector shows up. The only thing about this book that struck me as odd, was how quickly the two characters fell in love. I didn't feel the connection between them. It was just a naïve girl with a horny teenage boy kind of thing.

The story was quick and full of mystery and action. I loved the ending and how Anda has to overcome the truth about what she is. This was an epic read.
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Ms. Kang has made me have feelings for shipwrecks and inanimate objects that include corpses.  How did she do that?  She wove a lovely tale involving two people that were halves and made them whole as individuals and as one.   Anda's nature of violence with reason was terrifying and yet beautiful.  Her love of the items destructed washed unto me.  Hector's being broken did not stop him from caring for Anda and her oddities.  This story was so moving without much dialogue.   Typically I am not a fan of books without dialogue but this one reeled me in and kept me there until the last wave was gone.  I received a free ebook in exchange for an honest review.
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I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Netgalley!

What a dark book. I'm not quite sure how I feel about the book. It took me forever to finish. I kept having to stop to think about what I was reading and how I felt about it. I kept needing to confirm that I did, indeed, want to finish this book (the honest answer was no, but the type A answer was yes). 

Not sure of what I should have expected from the book but I wasn't expecting what I got. The story is deep, dark, and explores true nature when you're trapped in two worlds. How humans perceive good versus precieved evil. I think knowing what Anda was earlier in the book would have helped. Throughout the book (from page 1) there's always mention of what she is, there's always hints at what she is but her true nature isn't revealed until the very end of the book and by then - I was over it. 

Same goes for Hector's story. You know that the kid is traumatized, you know something isn't right, but we don't find out until the end of the book. It's almost like I spent the whole book playing mystery theater as both Hector and Anda (which is probably what the author intended) but I kind of hated it. 

Don't get me the wrong, the book was well written. The story is interesting developed and it seems like Kang put a good deal of planning into the book. Personally, I just can't stand books like this with dueling perspectives and neither one actually making any sense or providing some clarity. 

Would I read this book again? Nope. Would I recommend it to a friend? Probably nope. Will I remember this book in a few months and a few dozen books in-between? Maybe (probably) for the trauma that it's caused.  Read at your own risk and be prepared to be frustrated but fascinated at the same time.
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I have been DYING to read this since I found out about this book and because of netgalley (THANNNKKK YOUUU!!!), I got an arc for an honest review and I was left breathless from this novel. It was such a beautiful, dark, dangerous love story that is right up my alley. I was hooked and lost at sea, sucked in from the beginning.
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