Mosquitoland by David Arnold


Author: David Arnold

Publisher: Viking Children’s

Published:  3rd March 2015

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Mental health

Source: Netgalley

Date read: 13th January 2016

I received a copy of this book from the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


Synopsis from Goodreads:

“I am a collection of oddities, a circus of neurons and electrons: my heart is the ringmaster, my soul is the trapeze artist, and the world is my audience. It sounds strange because it is, and it is, because I am strange.”

After the sudden collapse of her family, Mim Malone is dragged from her home in northern Ohio to the “wastelands” of Mississippi, where she lives in a medicated milieu with her dad and new stepmom. Before the dust has a chance to settle, she learns her mother is sick back in Cleveland.

So she ditches her new life and hops aboard a northbound Greyhound bus to her real home and her real mother, meeting a quirky cast of fellow travelers along the way. But when her thousand-mile journey takes a few turns she could never see coming, Mim must confront her own demons, redefining her notions of love, loyalty, and what it means to be sane.

Told in an unforgettable, kaleidoscopic voice, “Mosquitoland” is a modern American odyssey, as hilarious as it is heartbreaking.

My thoughts:

Mary Iris Malone AKA Mim has been moved to Mississippi after her parents divorced, she is now living with the ‘evil step-mother’ and really struggling to come to terms with the recent past events. However overhearing that her mum has been hospitalized, she sets off the Cleveland Ohio with 800 dollars (Stolen from her step-mum) and a bag of clothes.

This story is not just of a road trip on a Greyhound bus, it’s about finding friends and self discovery. Mim is suffering from a supposed mental illness, and has been seeing a psychologist/counselor for years with no avail, she is lonely, trapped and just wants to be with her mother.

There are some truly great characters in this story and then there are some horrific ones, but it appears that it all revolves around mental health –  each character has their own struggles.

Each chapter starts off with Mim writing a letter to Isabel her aunt in a journal.  The letters include her daily events and how she is feeling mentally, physically and how she got to where she is today(a back story of her life).

Mim – is  strong, brave,sarcastic, and witty. She just wants to be with her mother so much, she also doesn’t believe that she is ill with (alleged psychosis).  Her dad believes she has all the characteristics and is determined for Mim to be on pills. She meets some great people on her road trip and starts to discover that there are people in the world that will talk to her, be friendly and not judge her.

Walt – has special needs (down syndrome), however he seems to be a genuinely nice boy and lucky that Mim found him and took her under her wing. However his story of how he was found didn’t seem plausible. How could some random person just be camping out in the middle of no-where with only tinned ham for sustenance. I felt that Walt’s back story wasn’t clear and as he had a major role in this book surely this should have been done.

Beck is one of those guys that is swoon worthy, how he treats Mim and Walt, the way he helps them, they way he deals with Mim and her crush. There is a bit of romance but not much at all.

Mim’s Dad – I really disliked his character, he was so controlling and everything had to be his way and he didn’t really understand what Mim was going through – there were scenes in the book that just made him out to be a douche, and that is what he was.

Arnold’s writing style is of course very easy to read and I have seen people comparing him to John Green and I can see the similarities.

There is no happy-ever-after in this story but its great to see Mim’s thought processes.

The thing that let this book down for me was the back stories of some of the characters and the scenarios were a bit far-fetched. The mental health aspects were not really touched upon, she was diagnosed and given some pills and that was that. However this is a great debut novel from Arnold and expect things to only get better.

I recommend this to anyone who likes YA, Mental health and coming of age with mild romance.

Overall I rated this book 3.5 stars