When I saw Chasing Brooklyn was available as part of a blog tour with International Book Tours I was intrigued by the premise and signed up straight away. What I hadn't realised until reading another review a while later, was that it was a verse novel. I've never read a book written in this style before and to be honest I was a little concerned that I wouldn't really enjoy it. I had absolutely no idea what to expect and couldn't imagine how an entire novel could be told in verse and still be a satisfying story.
Chasing Brooklyn tells the story of Brooklyn at the first anniversary of her boyfriend, Lucca's, death. She's struggling to move on and has shut herself away. When Lucca's best friend Gabe dies of an overdose things become much worse, especially when he starts haunting her dreams.
Then there's Nico, Lucca's brother. Nico doesn't talk about Lucca and how much he misses him, instead he runs and runs, training hard for competitions to block it all out. But then he begins to receive messages from Lucca telling him to help Brooklyn. How can he though when he's only just coping himself?
The story is told in alternating first person viewpoints from Brooklyn and Nico and despite my concerns I absolutely loved this book. There are only a few lines of text to each page, which don't read all that differently from a normal book. The difference being there's far more emotion and a beautiful rhythm to the writing. This makes the book an incredibly quick and easy read, the words flow seamlessly and force you to keep turning pages. Before I knew it I'd read half of the book without even looking up.
Having never read a verse novel before I have nothing to compare it with, but I can only imagine the talent and skill it takes to create such a huge and powerful story with so few words. Having both Brooklyn and Nico's point of view of their situation and each other made the characters far more developed than I'd have thought possible. Schroeder captures tangible feelings of loss and grief, but also of hope and moving on. Not only does Chasing Brooklyn deal with Brooklyn and Nico's loss, but we also have sub plots involving their families. This serves to give the story even more depth and make it completely believable.
The one area I felt a little disappointed in was the hauntings. They're not particularly convincing and certainly not scary in any way. I felt I'd been sold this book as a ghost story by the synopsis, but it's not really. Don't get me wrong, I loved the beautiful and emotional story I was given, I just don't think it was great as a ghost story-if that makes sense? I eventually concluded that the hauntings are actually Brooklyn and Nico's subconscious, which if I'm right is a very clever idea and works heaps better for me when looked at like that.
Overall my first experience of reading a verse novel was very successful and I would certainly do so again. In fact I'd really like to read Lisa Schroeder's other books, which are also written in verse. In the author blurb in the back it states Lisa likes to write in verse as it allows her to use far more emotion, and this is absolutely true. Her writing is very emotional, and I ended up in tears more than once while reading this book. It's also very hopeful and positive however and the ending is very satisfactory and left me smiling. I'd recommend anyone to give this book a go, it's a fast, easy, compelling emotional story of love, loss, hope and moving on and you may just be as surprised as me by how much you take from this book.
Brooklyn can't sleep. Her boyfriend, Lucca, died a year ago and since then it's as if she's just stopped living, too. Things worsen when her friend Gabe kills himself and seems to be haunting Brooklyn in her dreams - why is he in her dreams instead of Lucca? Lucca's brother Nico can't stop running. The only time he even feels vaguely normal is when he goes running. Nico is struggling, too, as it appears that Lucca's ghost is visiting him, demanding that he help Brooklyn. As Gabe's visits into Brooklyn's dreams become more frequent and Lucca's messages for Nico, too, Nico decides to reach out to Brooklyn. But how can he help her, when he can't even help himself?
I've never really heard of Lisa Schroeder before but when I saw the summary on International Book Tours, I immediately signed up as I loved the synopsis. However once I got an email telling me it was coming to me, I looked it up on Amazon to see what it was about and I learned that instead of being written like an actual book with sentences, this was a novel written in verse. This surprised me as I've never read a book written in verse and, to be honest, I was rather worried because it really didn't appeal to me. However I knew I would have to read it to provide a review so I sat down to get stuck in.
One of my main worries about reading a book written in verse was that it would, quite simply, be boring and plotless. Yes the synopsis tells us a plot of the book but how much detail can you make of a plot when each page contains 15 lines maximum? However I'm pleasantly surprised to report that the book was neither boring nor plotless. The fact that there's only 10-15 lines per page makes for an incredibly quick read. It also makes it incredibly moreish and I found myself wanting to read just one more page - up until the point that I read the whole book in one sitting. The plot is a little thin on the ground particularly since I'm not a huge believer in ghosts and people haunting you in your dreams but it moved along a quite a pace and there wasn't too much focus on the ghostly aspect.
Another worry I had was that I wouldn't fully connect to the characters and although I could manage to tell Brooklyn and Nico apart I can't really say they were fully rounded characters. The lack of description about themselves was unfortunate and I can't say that I imagined either Brooklyn nor Nico in my head as real, proper characters. The one thing that saved Brooklyn and Nico from total oblivion in my mind was the powerful emotions they're both feeling regarding the deaths of both Lucca and Gabe. I thought all of their emotions were hugely real and I did feel for both Brooklyn and Nico over what they were going through. I for one couldn't imagine anything like that happening to me and still being able to exist after it happened.
The book is told in alternating chapters - though they aren't really chapters - by both Nico and Brooklyn and I must say I enjoyed Nico's chapters more than Brooklyn's. Nico seemed more of a survivor whereas Brooklyn seemed eager to just let go. I liked how the relationship developed between Brooklyn and Nico though and it was sweet how they both tried to help each other. I can't really compare Schroeder's writing with anything as this is the first verse novel I've read but I will say that I managed to read it really quickly; the pages just fly by because there's so few words.
Overall I thought Chasing Brooklyn was a fairly decent read. It had emotion and seemed to be written beautifully. I wouldn't say that I'm a convert to verse-written books, I'd say they're more something you get used to rather than love automatically like regular books or perhaps they're more like marmite - you either love books written in verse or you hate them. I can't say I loved Chasing Brooklyn but nor did I hate it, it was really just OK. I certainly don't think I'll be buying or pre-ordering any verse-written books but if I happen to come across a cheap copy I certainly would give them another go!