Cover Image: Bearmouth


Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

Bearmouth follows the protagonist, young Newt who’s working in a mine underground, never seeing the light of the day. The setting feels like a mashup of historical fiction and dystopian in the way it’s described. The language needs a little getting used to as it is Newt writing it and he’s just learned to write, so it’s more phonetics than actual words. But the claustrophobia of having to live underground is perfectly captured in the writing by Liz Hyder. 
The book lags a bit in the middle but the pacing picks back up towards the end. I did wish more of the world in which the story is set in was explored, like the world out side the mine. But overall it was an engaging read and I loved that friendships got a lot of focus. 
I would definitely recommend.
Rating: 3.5 stars
Was this review helpful?
This book was in the recommended feed on NetGalley and the cover immediately caught my eye. That is haunting, right there. I was pleased to be approved and happily dove in. 

Newt has lived and worked in Bearmouth, a mining system, for as long as he can remember. Every day is the same, grueling and mindless, until the newest boy in the cave asks a single question: Why? As simple as that, Newt begins to question everything around him, and soon realizes that there may be more to life than darkness. 

Mayker sayve me. 

To begin, this book is an experience. Hyder's writing reminds me of my college days when I learned how to read and speak in Middle English. Bearmouth is written almost phonetically, mimicking Newt's own struggles to understand English. This added so much texture to the narrative voice and character development, so while it takes a few pages to get used to, it is ultimately a beautiful stylistic choice. As the story progresses, we see Newt deconstructing spelling and words and cheer on the educational journey. *Side note, I can see where this could be off-putting for some readers, but I found this to be an enjoyable adaptation.*

Bearmouth reminded me of Plato's allegory of the cave, Hunger Games, and A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World, a wonderful blending of literary and commercial narratives. Hyder's handling of the overarching themes of social inequality, politics, and class warfare is insightful as it is moving. At times, I felt claustrophobic, that the narrow walls of the mines were closing in on me, and that is the type of plot development I like from a dystopian text.

Beneath the bleak tragedy, however, is a resounding hope, moments of spiritual awakening, where characters question the established belief in "the Mayker" and work through doubt in order to learn about themselves and the world around them. At its heart, Bearmouth is a story about faith, love, and the never-ending quest for truth. 

Quiet yet powerful, Bearmouth is one you should add to your TBRs immediately. If you like your books emotionally taut and purposeful, this will be the read for you. 

Big thanks to Norton Young Readers and NetGalley for providing an eARC in exchange for honest review consideration.
Was this review helpful?
Oh. My. Gosh.

So. The last time I DNF'ed a book was roughly 4 years ago. My streak has been broken today. So please keep that in mind - I do not DNF lightly and it is such a rarity for me.

I've read every terrible self-published book sent my way out of a sense of duty.

I honestly am trying to find something good or some way to sugar-coat his but I can't. I honestly don't even understand the story or what is happening at all, I'm so wholly and completely distracted by the entire book being an entire hooked-on-phonics nightmare.

I am honestly shocked by it. And after the first few pages, I wanted to put it down cause it was such a headache to read and I read so...incredibly...slowly as I tried to puzzle out the words (or should I say traid tuh pahssl owt da werdz). It was frustrating at 10% through and maddening at 30 %.

And the thing is, if this was a book where he is learning to read and write then I think I could've handled it a bit better. I mean, technically the MC is learning but when I flipped to the end and still saw about 40% of the words being fawniklee speeld.., I really had to throw my hands up.

At the bare minimum, I was intrigued by the story - it seems like the MC is gay and is crushing on a guy named Devlin and that possibly Devlin is the devil. And there's something happening in the mines. Reading the book description gets me honestly fired up. 

But as far as the actual book? I'm just reeling by the writing and I haven't run across something like this in the entirety of my 350+ books reviewed for authors and publishers and if I never run into it again, I would feel blessed.
Was this review helpful?
I had a hard time reading this books. I understand that the main character, Newt is learning their letters, but it was just too hard for me to figure out what they were saying and what was going on sometimes. It seems like it was a pretty interesting story, the style just wasn’t for me. I’m sure other people will probably love it though.
Was this review helpful?
I was incredibly intrigued by the premise of a dark, spooky underground society with trouble brewing. What I was not expecting was the writing style of this book. The main character, Newt, is in the process of learning his letters and how to spell. The story is told from his perspective and reads as if he is writing this with sentences like "All over this level. Evrywhere. You feels him all round you in the air, in the lyte. Canduls flicker an burn wherere you look. Tis bryte. So bryte. Hurts my eyes. I blinks an blnks". While this does add some authenticity and uniqueness to the voice of the narrator, this made it incredibly hard for me as a reader to fully understand the book. There were many times where I had to slowly read a sentence aloud a few times for me to understand what a specific word was supposed to be. For me, this took me out of the story enough that I did not end up enjoying it. and felt frustrated. However, I recognize that this unique style might be exactly what sells this book for other readers. Ultimately, it wasn't for me.
Was this review helpful?