In Bloom by Matthew Crow (review copy) - Francis Wootton's first memory is of Kurt Cobain's death and there have since been other hardships much closer to home. At fifteen, he knows all about loss and rejection, and if he's honest, Francis - would-be poet, possible intellectual - feels he is wasted in Tyne and Wear. Lower Fifth is supposed to be his time: but when he is diagnosed with leukaemia, a whole new world of worry presents itself. There's the horror of being held back a year at school, the threat of imminent baldness. But he hadn't reckoned on meeting Amber and finding a reason to tackle it all - the good the bad and everything in-between - head on. From Goodreads.
With that quote from Matt Haig on the front cover, I was really looking forward to reading In Bloom by Matthew Crow. However, I'm sad to say that I found it a little disappointing.
Francis is a smart boy who has big plans for his future. When he finds out he has leukamia, his whole world turns upside down. Then he meets Amber at the hospital, and his life has a new focus. A romance blossoms between the two, but when you both have cancer, it's a constant shadow hanging over your heads.
It's too easy to compare In Bloom to The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, but it should be judged on it's own merit rather than comparing it to a similar, popular book, so that's what I'm going to do. In Bloom isn't really about cancer, mor about Francis and his relationship with Amber.
Francis has a very individual voice; he's humourous, but he's also quite innocent. He can be a little self-centered and melodramatic. It can be a little irritating sometimes, but most of the time it's endearing. He is quite smart, but he has an elevated opinion of his intelligence. He thinks he's smarter than everyone else, so tries to impress them all with his intelligence. Francis is the highlight of the book, with his funny way of thinking, and how he reacts to things.
Unfortunately, I didn't think much of Amber. This is because we mainly get Francis' opinion of her, rather than get to know her well. We don't see too much of her - it's more tell than show. When we do see her, she seemed a bit course to me, and I didn't really warm to her, despite her being a little funny. Because of this, I didn't really feel invested in the romance, which was the main focus of the story... so it fell a little flat for me.
Not a bad story, but one that didn't really work for me, sadly.
Thank you to Much-in-Little for the review copy.
Published: 20th March 2015
Matthew Crow on Twitter