‘I’ll tell you what happened because it will be a good way to introduce my brother. His name’s Simon. I think you’re going to like him. I really do. But in a couple of pages he’ll be dead. And he was never the same after that.’
This book first came to my attention when it won the Costa Book Award. It sounded like a super book group read so I added it to my list and finally we did get around to reading it. Did it live up to my expectations? Sadly not – which was a great shame – and it didn’t quite live up to the group’s expectations either.
Pretty much the entire group disliked the book, however, we did have a new member join us for that meeting and she absolutely loved it. ‘Awkward’ I hear you cry, but not at all. In fact, it was a blessing because it allowed us to discuss the book rather than moan about it. The style and unusual way in which it was written did cause some readers (including myself) confusion, but our new member explained why that would be appropriate or why it was written in that way, which did drum up a good discussion and opened our eyes to things we hadn’t seen. However, we still felt that the story itself wasn’t strong enough and no matter how it was written it still wasn’t gripping enough to entertain us from start to finish.
None of us have any experience about the content in this book, but our new member had plenty, so maybe you have to really know and understand this type of situation to appreciate how well it reads. For us, we just couldn’t get into the disjointed and (at times) confusing fashion in which it was written. We have had a few books recently with similar content so maybe these stories are becoming a little repetitive, I don’t know, but it certainly wasn’t one of our better reads.
After reading reviews online, and after our hearty discussion, I think I can safely say that this book really is a ‘Marmite’ book – you’ll either love it or hate it – so give it a try and see how your taste buds react.