Audiobook Review: Mosquitoland by David Arnold

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Audiobook Review: Mosquitoland by David ArnoldMosquitoland by David Arnold
Narrator: Phoebe Strole
Length: 8 hrs, 26 mins
Published by Listening Library on March 3, 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Source: Publisher
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three-stars

"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.

Mosquitoland is a book I was deeply unsure about, because I just wasn’t sure if it would be a Christina book. I was lured in by the adorable cover, and the reviews which talked about how character-driven the novel is. Going with the audiobook version was partially convenience and partially the fact that I thought it might be a better choice for me. I’ve listened to Phoebe Strole before and thought she did a nice job, so it couldn’t hurt. In the end, Mosquitoland was indeed not a perfect book for me personally, but it was quirky, fun, and kept my attention.

Mim (Mary Iris Malone) does have an incredibly strong, unique voice. She is, pun intended, quite a character. It’s one of those funny cases where Mim and I have a lot in common, but we’re still so incredibly different that I didn’t see much of myself in her. Mim’s socially awkward, not shy with her opinions, and possessed of an impressive vocabulary. There’s something acerbic about her. That voice is crucial because, without that strong voice as an anchor, this book would not have worked, because it is WEIRD.

A lot books are weird. Believe me, I’ve read enough of them to know, but this one still had me raising my eyebrows at my iPod in wonderment because seriously wut. There’s something almost cinematic in Mosquitoland. It’s like a hipster version of some sort of drunken goofball comedy, only they’re drunk on life and companionship, no alcohol. I don’t know if that makes any damn sense.

Mim bounces like a pinball off of bumpers (terrible circumstances) and flippers (kindred spirits). The purpose of Mim’s trip is to see her mother, kept from her since her dad and step-mother moved them to Mississippi, aka Mosquitoland. Armed with money stolen from her step-mother, she gets on a Greyhound and goes. Everything else is a bit on drugs. Still, I do think that the bumpers and flippers on her bouncing journey are a pretty good metaphor for Mim really encountering life, even if things are much more dramatic than in real life. She’s confronting the worst of life and learning important lessons, like the fact that those things are surmountable if you surround yourself with good people you can count on.

The actual plot isn’t the strongest part of the book. From a couple chapters in, I could have predicted most of the ending, the fact that the book would be about Mim needing to reevaluate people. Like most road trip novels, Mosquitoland isn’t about the destination but the journey. Anyone would be changed by that hellish trip. I mean, jesus. Here’s a little list of some things that will happen on Mim’s journey:

  • Mim will fuck up a bus toilet.
  • One of Mim’s new friends will die.
  • A gross man will try to force himself on Mim.
  • Mim will befriend a homeless kid.
  • Mim will draw lipstick on her face many times. On purpose.
  • Barfing. Lots and lots of barfing.

Those are just a few of the things that happen. It’s not that any one element couldn’t happen but holy shit that’s so much stuff for such a short book. It did make the book hard to put down because I was so fascinated about what the heck would happen next. At the same time, it was hard to take it seriously sometimes.

Mosquitoland reminded me somewhat of Wild Awake, not in plot, but in how odd and quirktastic both novels are. There’s a very specific sort of appeal to Mosquitoland, so, if you think it sounds like your sort of book, it probably is. Go get it!

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

  gif bus accident
I was so not prepared for some of the things that happened on this trip.

3 responses to “Audiobook Review: Mosquitoland by David Arnold”

  1. Meg says:

    Totally sold. This sounds like megbait. Also, Cleveland.

  2. Maraia says:

    GREAT review. Even though I gave this 5 stars instead of 3, I can’t believe how well you summed up my general impression of this book. It really was one strange story, wasn’t it? It surprised me at every turn (all the things you mentioned and so many more SPOILERS), and more importantly, it surprised me how much I did end up liking it. I love the bumpers/flippers metaphor, by the way! I’m not sure if you’re a Lord of the Rings fan, but for me, the references were hilarious.

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