[Book Review] The Binding by Bridget Collins

the binding

The Binding is a haunting story about young Emmett Farmer who is chosen to learn the craft of book binding. Except in this world, book binding is not what we know, and is a kind of magic that takes people’s memories and stores them in a book.

Bridget Collins writes eloquently, and draws the reader in from the first moment. Emmett’s sickness, being chosen, De Havilland. Darney. So much is mentioned and written about, yet leaves the reader waiting for more.

Personally, I was hooked and found it hard to put down. I’m finding it hard to describe the feeling of finishing the book, because I was desperate for the story to never end. I wanted to know more about Emmett, about Lucian Darney and everything that would come to pass.

One thing I wished Collins had delved into more was the Crusades, and have found myself wishing for perhaps a prequel where we perhaps get to see Seredith during the Crusades.

Overall, I loved The Binding, it was what I’d hoped it would be and so much more. The book has much to offer and Bridget Collins does not let the reader down. It is a book I would definitely recommend and hope to see grow further.

[Book Review] Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

never let me go

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro is a retelling of Kathy’s life as she discovers friendship and love. Kathy, Tommy and Ruth are Hailsham students, they are taught the importance of poetry and art, playing games and working together. But, they will also one day become donors.

The novel focuses on Kathy remembering the past and her experiences that have led her to where she is now. All the fights, all the laughter and love.

The three main characters were well rounded. Kathy, to me, felt a little apathetic, Tommy was naive. Ruth was manipulative.

Kathy’s apathy went in two ways for me, I felt it was almost like a detachment from the situation. This experience of hers was something she just knew and accepted. The most human emotions I felt from her came at the end, when she broke down after Tommy.

Tommy’s naivety shone throughout, but perhaps he was the one who understood the world the most.

Ruth, for me, was perhaps the most dislikable character of the novel. Something about her just made me dislike her from the offset, and that feeling only grew throughout the novel.

Overall, I felt like I enjoyed the book. It was soft, and despite the alternate history of the novel, it didn’t try to explain the things that had happened, because Kathy had never found the curiosity to question, which in turn made me not question the way things had happened the way they did. But, the novel did leave you questioning humanity and the way we treat those we deem ‘other’, and how we view them as part of society. It was definitely an interesting book to read.

It perhaps wasn’t my favourite book, but definitely one I’d recommend to others.

[Book Review] Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch

rivers of london

Rivers of London follows Peter Grant, a police officer and apprentice wizard as he tracks down a ghost who compels people to kill.

Rivers of London has been on my ‘to be read’ for quite a long time, so I’d been anticipating reading it for a long time in the back of my head. Theoretically, it is a good book, but for me, it fell a little bit short.

The writing style of the novel is great. It’s not too complex, and is easy to read. I found the characters to be a little two dimensional. The plot of the novel just felt like it happened, and it left me feeling vaguely like I was waiting for something a little more complicated to happen.

Peter Grant was okay,  Nightingale was okay, Lesley was okay. The most interesting characters of the novel were Mama Thames and Father Thames, and I’m sure they probably get explored better in later novels, but I don’t really feel a burning desire to continue the series.

Overall, Rivers of London wasn’t for me. It certainly holds appeal for those of us wanting to explore the magical underground of London, and I commend Aaronovitch’s end goal, he’s clearly writing with a series in mind. Unfortunately, the series wasn’t for me.

I’m not one for bad reviews, and this book certainly wasn’t bad, it was good in it’s own way. It just wasn’t the book for me.

[Book Club] [Book Review] Milkman by Anna Burns

milkman

Milkman by Anna Burns is a story about gossip and rumours. This is what is is on the surface, but once you dig deeper into the story it is a story about how one young girl copes with stalking, the circulation of gossip and how this affects her, and the change in perception of those around her to what is happening to her.

Personally, I really enjoyed Milkman. There were so many different aspects and layers to the novel that really stuck out to me, and made me want to keep going. The writing is eloquent, and is gritty and to the point. The story jumps back and forth and sometimes rears off into other directions to display the the subconscious and how we might wander off with our thoughts.

One of my favourite aspects of this novel was the fact that there was no names. Everyone was referred to by their status, either in relation to the community or their relation to middle-sister. This was really interesting to me, it displayed the ambiguity to the story, and raised a level of ‘this could be happening to anyone’.

Another aspect of the novel that was really well handled was the disassociation that took place. Middle-sister, as the novel progressed, became more and more ‘blank’ per say, and the writing style depicted this well.

On the cover of my novel, it tells me that the novel is hilarious, and whilst I might not agree with hilarious, the novel does have it’s funny moments. My favourite moments perhaps being the phone call between Ma and third brother-in-law at the start of Chapter 6, where they’re arguing over middle-sister and running. The writing surrounding both characters in most occasions is absurd, and writes to prove the absurdity of the situation, highlighting Anna Burns’ ability to move across writing styles throughout the novel.

Overall, I would definitely recommend Milkman. I found it a really intriguing novel, and there are so many things I could talk about with this novel, but I struggle to find the words for.

What did you think of Milkman? Let me know in the comments!

[Book Review] American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

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I find it difficult to summarise American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis. On the surface, it’s about Patrick Bateman who is part of the Upper Class elite of Wall Street who violently kills women.

The novel is grotesque, and there were a few scenes that left me wondering why I was even reading the book. Which is why I find writing this review especially difficult. I’m torn on how I rate this book.

It’s satirical, poking fun at the elite and their way of life. I’d never even heard of some of the designers name dropped in this novel, and the fascination with Donald Trump is profound when reading it now.

But, I found myself questioning a lot of things that happened. There were many scenes where Patrick would openly admit to his violent thoughts and things that he’d done, and the conversation would continue as if he hadn’t said anything. There was a section where after admitting to killing Paul Owen, it turns out that Paul Owen is in fact not dead, which lead me to wonder if Patrick Bateman had even killed anyone at all. Was it all just a fantasy? Had any of this actually happened?

No one certainly looked for the women he murdered. Or is it the point that these women were replaceable, and no one would go looking for them?

Alas, it is safe to say that the book left me with more questions than it did answer any.

Overall, I’m not sure what my stance is on the novel. I definitely didn’t dislike it, but I’m not quite sure I enjoyed the book either. It was intriguing and downright disgusting in some parts. It was disorientating and dissociative, which from my perspective was the intention of the novel.

It’s a novel I would recommend lightly, and is definitely not for the faint of heart.

On this occasion, I am unsure. But, perhaps, only time will tell where my viewpoint on the novel stands, and perhaps demands a revisit to truly uncover all the goings on of Patrick Bateman.

[Book Review] Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

 

eleanor oliphantEleanor Oliphant is 30 years old, and she has fallen in love. With the front man of a band.

This is the beginning of what turns out to be a very poignant story about finding friends, exploring yourself and dealing with the past. Eleanor is at first viewed as an outsider, someone who nobody talks to and nobody wants to talk to, until she meets Raymond and they begin to form a friendship.

If I’m being very honest, I did not like the book at first. I’d seen all the hype and honestly began to wonder what all the fuss was about, but something made me want to keep going.

This was my slow descent into exploring Eleanor and her life. I’m now glad to say I stuck with it until the end, as it won me over. I felt for a while that I would stick with second-lead syndrome and Raymond would be the most likeable character, but then Eleanor began to unravel, and I began to really like the way she spoke and the way she viewed the world. She challenged my own view of the world, and the way she approaches life.

Overall, I rather enjoyed Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine. Honeyman writes simply, but effectively, and definitely knows how to draw the reader in. My advice to the new reader would be, if you’re only just starting out and not enjoying, definitely stick with it. It’s definitely worth it to get to the end and discover that the pay-off is worth it.

Or at least it had been for me.

Have you read Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine? Let me know in the comments what you thought!

[Book Review] We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

we need to talk about Kevin.jpgWe Need To Talk About Kevin is on the surface a gut-wrenching story about Kevin who kills 9 people in a school shooting. On a deeper level, the novel is about a mother’s love and if a mother’s love can influence a person’s upbringing.

I went into reading this novel with my eyes open, I knew it was going to be a tough read, but even as I finished the novel, the novel continued to display it’s perplexities and harshness.

The novel follows a sequence of letters from Eva to her husband Franklin as she recounts Kevin’s childhood to the present. The novel is a mammoth tale, starting from how it all began, from Eva’s and Kevin’s shaky start as he is born, to moments throughout his childhood that leave the reader questioning.

This novel for me left me feeling that it was perhaps a little too real. The novel is psychologically stimulating, as we question with Eva whether Kevin could have done that, or if Eva had been a different kind of mother would Kevin had still continued on the path he chose. The novel is interesting in the way it makes you question everything, Eva is always so certain of the things that Kevin has done, and despite not ever mentioning Kevin’s mental health, it does leave you questioning. Kevin is distant, he dissociates, and from Eva’s retellings comes across as if everything is an act.

But, how much of this is Eva? We rely on Eva to tell Kevin’s story, and how do we, as the reader, know that we are not being influenced by Eva’s experiences?

Overall, I enjoyed reading this novel. I found myself questioning everything at every turn, wondering if Kevin had done what Eva thought. Lionel Shriver has written a poignant story of a mother’s love, and how far would a mother go for her child, and questions a person’s reaction and how they place blame on others.

It is definitely a book I would recommend, and one that I will perhaps read more than once, as I’m sure throughout my reading, I have potentially missed quite a lot of nuances that are waiting to be picked up.

Have you read We Need To Talk About Kevin? Let me know in the comments!