Looks Who’s Back by Timur Vermes (book review)

05/03/2016 § Leave a comment

Look Whos Back Timur Vermes Front Cover

Hitler is inexplicably catapulted through time into 2011 Berlin. Making fast-friends with a well-connected Kiosk owner, Hitler, presumed satirical method actor, lands himself his own TV spot.

Although sardonic quips are amusing, they would be none the poorer attributed to any cantankerous old man. The meta-satirical novel, even on a backdrop of Farage and Trump, doesn’t pack enough punch to justify converting Adolf Hitler into a lovably grumpy archetypal grandpa. A distastefully disheartening encounter with a Jewish Grandmother compounds Vermes’ failure to deliver a political point. Genuine YouTube clips of Donald Trump do the job nicely on their own, thanks.

“…my daddy used to say that death was the timing of the world’s worst comedian and I think he was right”

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The shock of the fall by Nathan Filer (book review)

07/02/2016 § Leave a comment

theshockofthefallnathanfilercover

Matt is a sectioned schizophrenic, bound through hallucinations of his disabled brother to the accident that killed him.  Matt’s acerbic witticisms cleverly highlight bizarre judgements and nonsensical practices too commonly associated with mental illness. Yet, his poetic insights into his own otherness bring home how close to such an abyss anyone could stand, not realising they are about to fall. As more details of his brother Simon’s death are gradually recalled, the reader is forced to consider Matt’s own dilemma; to struggle out of the grip of insanity would mean killing of the perpetually innocent Simon, once and for all.

“Some madness doesn’t act mad to begin with, sometimes it will knock politely at the door, and when you let it in, it’ll simply sit in the corner without a fuss – and grow”

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (Book Review)

15/02/2012 § Leave a comment

In 1951 Henrietta Lacks died of cervical cancer on a ‘black ward’ in Baltimore. But her cells lived on. Taken at a time when consent wasn’t required by law Henrietta’s cells, named HeLa, were the first to become immortal in culture. Trillions were produced, helping scientists develop vaccines, cures and millions of dollars. HeLa’s development is paralleled with the hitherto largely unknown woman behind the medicine and the young family she left behind. Scientific elements are explained well and the Lacks’ are elaborately characterised, enamouring the reader to their plight. Despite some overzealous fictionalisations and an author who insists on edifying the reader of her own ingenuity, this book is a great human interest read.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (Book Review)

26/10/2011 § 2 Comments

Allow the perplexing associates of the Night Circus to guide you on a journey to uncover its many mysteries. Fuelled by a bizarre and sinister competition between two formidable magicians, Le Cirque de Rêves is swathed in curiosities and impossibilities. This novel boasts moments of brilliance, where the reader is dazzled by an intricate secret world. However, the overly ambitious plot overwhelms the characterisation and, at times, basic narrative skill. The repetition of words and narrative formulae leave the novel feeling rushed and unedited. Tragically unpolished with an air of an intriguing film pitch rather than a novel, The Night Circus is not quite brilliant.

Dark Matter: A Ghost Story by Michelle Paver

17/10/2011 § Leave a comment

Investigate the ‘phobic disorder’ of Jack Miller, a young disenchanted scientist who participates in an ill-fated expedition to the artic in the 1930’s. As his journal’s pages turn the tone alters from excitement to eerie disconcertment amid rumours of his destination’s penchant for ‘bad luck’. As the mission’s members are picked off by fate, the eternal darkness of the arctic begins to permeate Jacks very being. This atmospheric novel’s plot centres upon the value of companionship and the disastrous consequences of isolation. Read this alone by lamplight and you too will begin to wonder at what lurks in the shadows.

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier (Book Review)

12/10/2011 § 3 Comments

Rebecca is the story of a young girl’s transformation from lowly companion of an insufferable Lady to wife of Maximillian De Winter and mistress of Manderly, a grand coastal estate. Far from a rags to riches romance this brooding gothic tale centres upon a naïve girl haunted by the memory of her recently deceased predecessor, the interminable Rebecca. Du Maurier draws upon Bronte to create an eerie and quietly brilliant landscape polluted with paranoia and self doubt. Likeable characters may be kept in the background but the heavily flawed antiheroes simply make the novel all the more enticing.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett (Book Review)

03/10/2011 § Leave a comment

The Help is set in 60s America’s Deep South, told from the points of view of two black maids and a white society lady, Skeeter, whose journalistic ambitions lead her to confront the shocking realities of living a life of servitude for less than minimum wage. Skeeter’s project provides the novel with a conduit through which a wealth of anecdotes surface. Whilst numerous incidents are harrowing, many are brimming with love and humour. The three distinct but complimentary voices are perfectly drawn, and Stockett’s bold choice to adopt voices of black Mississippian women paid off superbly. It’s popularity is well-earned.

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