Author: Hannah Moskowitz
Expected publication: January 1st 2013
My Rating: 4.5/5Goodreads | Amazon |B&N
Be careful what you believe in.
Rudy’s life is flipped upside-down when his family moves to a remote island in a last attempt to save his sick younger brother. With nothing to do but worry, Rudy sinks deeper and deeper into loneliness and lies awake at night listening to the screams of the ocean beneath his family’s rickety house.
Then he meets Diana, who makes him wonder what he even knows about love, and Teeth, who makes him question what he knows about anything. Rudy can’t remember the last time he felt so connected to someone, but being friends with Teeth is more than a little bit complicated. He soon learns that Teeth has terrible secrets. Violent secrets. Secrets that will force Rudy to choose between his own happiness and his brother’s life.
I went into this book pretty much blind, I didn’t really know what to expect. I hadn’t read any review before I requested this book from Edelweiss; I was going by the description, which didn’t give much away, not much of what the book is actually about, not really. But then my request got accepted (which surprised me a lot, by the way) and I just dove right into it. I didn’t want to spoil myself by reading reviews and for once, I wanted a book to really surprise me.
And boy, did it work!
I was told a lot about Hannah Moskowitz’s writing, and how amazing and real it is. Let me tell to those that never read anything by her –like I was before Teeth –it’s true. Her writing is amazing, and it was what kept me going and helped me get past my annoyance with the formatting of this ARC (and don’t worry, even if the writing were bad this would not have affected my review, I assure you. It was an ARC after all!).
In Teeth Hannah brings us a tale about a teenage boy, Rudy, forced to live in an island god-knows-where for his little brother’s sake. You see, his bother is sick, and after his family tried everything available to help little Dylan and it didn’t work, there’s only one thing left for them to do: hope for a miracle, or magic. Or whatever.
So they move to this island where the fish are magical, where the fish heal those who eat them. But the problem is they can’t stop eating them, or else their disease (or whichever problem they had) would come back.
And there is Rudy, stuck in an island where the youngest person besides himself and his five-year-old brother is over thirty. He’s bored, and lonely, and he misses home and his friends. But does he really?
Sometimes I felt that I didn’t know what was wrong with him, and neither did he, really. Sometimes it was clear how he needed a friend, someone, anyone that would be there just for him, and no one else, and sometimes I felt like he didn’t need anything at all, that he was just bored out of his mind.
“I only take the legends seriously at night. The house is rocking, and the stories are the only thing to keep me company. Stories, me, and the ocean. And however the hell many magic fish.”
But then he meets Diana, apparently the only other girl his age on the island, so why didn’t he know about her? Because she never leaves her house. Why? There are more secrets buried deep within the island than Rudy could ever imagine.
I have yet to determine how I feel about Diana. She was so completely detached from everything real, that sometimes I thought of her as cold and bitchy. But I understood her to an extent. She never left her house, and all she knew about life and the outside world was because of the books she read, but there’s so much books can teach you.
“Let’s be honest, Rudy, books are pornography for brains. All that subtext and bullshit and hidden imagery. This is real life. It isn’t like that. Isn’t that what you just said?”
She prided herself while talking about real life, but what did she know really? Nothing, absolutely nothing, and that sometimes made me angry at her. Everything fascinated her; everything was interesting to her, when what she should be feeling was actually revulsion or some form of distress. Anything that would make her seem less empty. But then again, maybe she was empty.
And then there was Teeth.
Rudy sees Teeth for the first time before he even meets Diana actually, and from afar he seemed just like a boy. Because he was a boy. Or half.
Teeth is half boy, half fish, hence Rudy calling him fishboy most of the time. He has lungs, he breathes air, he has hair and a face, he speaks English –sort of. But he also has a tail and fins. He is the self-proclaimed protector of the Enki fish, the magic fish. His brothers and sisters. The story behind his conception and how he came to be and live in the water is rather disturbing and a little creepy; all that he goes through on the island is downright unsettling.
I mean, he goes through a lot, and I couldn’t help but feel for Teeth most of the time. Actually to the point that I was crying and shaking my head and whispering ‘no, no, no’ all while reading. I don’t know how I managed to read through it, really.
And yet, Teeth had a way of dismissing what was happening to him that both made me want to hug him and slap him. He seemed to be strong, he usually didn’t show distress or any emotion to indicate how deeply hurt he actually was, but he kept going back. This upset me a lot, just like it did Rudy. Instead of staying as far away from those hurting him as possible he went back, and back, and back.
God, how I hurt for him!
“I can’t fix this. I can’t save him. And even if I could, how many times am I going to have to save this boy who doesn’t want to be saved, before I finally get it through my fucking head that I can’t actually change anything?”
Rudy and Teeth’s relationship seemed one of deep friendship on the surface. And though it was indeed that, it was also so much more. There was a subtleness used here that made it hard to see what could really be underneath.
It wasn’t until after I had started the book that I read the word magicgayfish, said by the author herself. And then I stopped a second, stared at the word (it was late, my brain wasn’t really working anymore) and read it again. And then the chip fell. I wanted to facepalm myself, really. But I blame it on my sleep deprivation… mostly. So that was when things started making a little more sense. But wait. I’m not blind, alright? I could see it, but the author was subtle, very much so.
I would say that Teeth was a somewhat complex book. It was gritty and dark and raw and intense and sad. It has a unique concept (at least it’s new to me) that will either scare you away, or pull you in and not let you go.
It’s an emotive book. That even though it made me half snort, half laugh several times (most of them thanks to Teeth and his dark sense of humor) It also made me cry some, and cringe some, and cover my mouth in horror. And of course, wish things could be different.
“If this were a fairy tale […] he could never leave. He would know that without him, none of us will be as good. Me without a friend; and the fish without a brother; and the island, without a story; and Diana without her something real, we will all be a little less than we were before we knew him. […] But this isn’t a fairy tale.”
[I received this ARC from the Publisher via Edelweiss. This in no way affected how I perceived and reviewed this book]