Title: The Circle
Author: Dave Eggers
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian Fiction, Technological Fiction
Title: The Circle
Author: Dave Eggers
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian Fiction, Technological Fiction
Author: James Bradley
Genre: Environmental, Dystopian Future, Sci-Fi, Fantasy
Note – after a three month hiatus, I’ve returned back to (hopefully) regular blogging. Apologies for such a long time. My Masters has finally finished!
So, as a few of you know, I get kindly sent books from Titan Publishing in order to read and review them a few weeks before publication. I get to pick and choice my books from a brief synopsis, which allows me to get excited about them before they arrive in the post.
About a month ago, I was sent Clade by James Bradley, and was instantly drawn in by the blurb. Set against a very startling and believable world of climate change, Clade follows the tale of one family and their generations as they struggle to live in a world that has been ravaged by pollution and population size. The world is close enough to our own to feel familiar, but also fitting in with the sci-fi/dystopian genre of YA fiction.
With each chapter virtually introducing a new character/story arc (and possibly set years apart from the previous arc), this story explores both familial and romantic relationships against the backdrop of a decaying world. One thing that I did notice was that sometimes it took a while for the key figure to be introduced, which made me drift slightly whilst reading it. The almost ‘snapshot’ image of this new member of the family (the Leith family, for anyone interested) did well in keep with the horrific world that they lived in, but it did make me, as a reader, a bit unsure about who I was reading about, and why Bradley focussed on them. This may have been because the book is relatively short (250ish pages) and in order to write about an entire generation, you need a much larger book.
However, when Bradley really wanted to concentrate on the development of the relationships and the family member, he did so with delicacy and precision. One relationship I particularly enjoyed reading about was Ellie and Adam, as their relationship is shown from extreme happiness to a complete breakdown.
Bradley’s other strengths lie with the world building. A very plausible and alarming future has been built, and Bradley keeps the reader intrigued with his tidbits about how super tsunamis/storms/earthquakes affect the rest of the world and not just the countries in which Clade is set. He has also taken one hell of a controversial and political subject and made it very readable for people who aren’t entirely clued up with the climate change deal.
All in all, Clade has been a refreshing take on the dystopian/environmental future genre. Apart from some weaknesses with the Leith family dynamic, (which could be down to Bradley being an overeager writer?) Clade is a relatively short, well-written novel that will leave you mulling over climate change after you’ve finished the last page.
Title: Stranger Things
Cast: Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton
Series Running Time: July 2016-Present Day
Genre: Sci-Fi, Supernatural, Period Drama, Mystery
After suffering from a nasty bout of food poisoning over the weekend, I couldn’t muster up enough energy to do any University work, or really anything for that matter. So, I decided to indulge myself and watch the highly acclaimed series ‘Stranger Things’, which became the hit cult show of the summer through the streaming site, Netflix. Continue reading
Title: The Many
Author: Wyl Menmuir
Fantasy: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Science Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Paranormal, Ghostly
As part of my job, I’m very lucky that I can go and interview authors and people of note. So when I was put onto contacting and reading The Many by Wyl Menmuir, I was not only excited to have some new reading material, but intrigued that this small publication (independently pushed and just over 130 pages long) has been long-listed for the prestigious Man Booker Prize.
So I picked up a copy from my local bookshop, and set about reading. It took me just over an hour to devour it, and I’m pleased to say I was hooked. The Many is worthy of the nomination, as the story is brilliantly woven, expertly told and with different voices and with a satisfying ending that will both leave questions unsolved, yet the reader entirely sated.
Set in an unnamed fishing community on the North Cornish coast, the novel focuses around a new arrival to a very close-knit and closeted community. On paper, Timothy Bucchanan’s move from London to the village makes perfect sense. However, the narrative dives into a world that is completely isolated, mysterious and unfriendly to newcomers. With the ghost of a man that still holds sway over the locals, wasted fish being hauled from a contaminated sea, and unsettling dreams, Timothy soon gets swept up in village life, and with thousands of questions going unanswered, Timothy decides secrets must be unveiled, and the past has to be dug up.
The Many is rare in how it spans and encapulates different literary genres. With biological warfare and contaminated seas signalling science fiction, a world that is cut off and completely isolated being something out of dystopian literature, a murder mystery that has yet to be solved, and a touch of fantasy blending alongside magical realism, this novel feels a lot bigger than it physically is. Menmuir has given the readers enough of the characters to be interested by them, but not bog them down with unneccessary backstories. The figure of Perran, a character who died years before the narrative is set, is like a ghostly figure over the village, and his influence and story is hidden within plain sight. He is never properly physically described, nor do we properly hear him speak (apart from within flashback sequences) yet despite being dead, he is so present within the village conscious.
Timothy arrives at this village with his own issues. He has hopes and dreams of settling down and moving his wife away from the London rat-race, and in touching passages he can imagine himself through different social scenerios. However, this doesn’t happen. And Timothy is left constantly on the outside, yet being the most talked about man in the village.
The village dynamic is also very well written about. As I live on the Cornish coast, I know that there can be some animosity towards newcomers, yet this village certainly runs with it, and brings a Wickerman-esque feel to the narrative.
The novel has some interesting dream sequences, and moments of surrealism/magical realism, which reminds me of the writing styles of Alan Garner and Gabriel García Márquez. These sequences do have to be taken a face value, and towards the end of the novel, the world of the village and probably even Timothy’s own mental state does get a bit fractured, which just adds to the dynamic of the novel.
All in all, a great piece of literature. I’d thoroughly recommend it if you want to try a good read that will stick with you, yet isn’t too physically big.
The Many is out now!
Title: The Silent History
Authors: Eli Horowitz, Matthew Derby and Kevin Moffett.
Genre: Fiction, Sci-Fi, Dystopia, Adult Literature, Contemporary Fiction, Social Media Literature.
“Let the unknown be unknown. The things we need will reveal themselves in time.”
Thanks to the lovely people at Nudge-book.com, I was sent this book as a gift, alongside my main review text (link to that right here). And when I read the blurb and little insider summary of the book’s history, I was instantly intrigued.
The Silent History was originally published and serialised through an award-winning app, and released little by little as field studies and testimonals. It focuses on the tale of a generation of children born without speech, without language and without any obvious means of communication with the outside world. These are called ‘The Silents’. So instantly, the children are labelled under various terms
– a blessing, an epidemic, a freakshow, a scientific miracle, or just outcasts. The story is told through 120 individual testimonals, ranging from parents of ‘silent’ children, to doctors, friends, leaders and random observers, and it narrates how the children were first diagnosed, and how, through the years of 2011-44, these children grew into a world that saw the ‘silents’ change from being freaks of nature and into something far more powerful.
Now, I had my copy sent to me in a paperback book format. So I cannot review this as how it was originally published, as I didn’t have, or was even aware of the app. So, I apologise in that sense. But, after reading it, I can see how amazing this would have been as a novel-by-the-way-of-an-app. I have gathered through my research that there are even parts of the book that I haven’t been able to access, due to the user interaction that only the app can provide, which adds another level of this story completely.
Whilst I was reading it, I noticed there are definite touches of Sci-Fi, fantasy and even end-of-the-world in this book. With the ‘silents’ being diagnosed, humiliated and labelled an epidemic and then basically marginalised by the rest of society, there is a real sense of isolation and tension throughout the stories. With the use of first-hand and oral recordings of the silents history, it felt very World War Z, and the scenes of the motely groups of silents banding together was highly reminiscent of the zombie genre (think countless scenes in The Walking Dead) so I thought that the whole idea of discrimination was done really well.
With the people of the narrative, I also thought these were written extremely well. The authors could definitely explain human emotions, especially when said humans were at their limits. There are sections, like Theo (the manic, overprotective father) and his silent daughter, Flora, which does show postivity and family bonds, but not traditional sense at all. The most amusing character was either the straightforward Francine or the manic, cultish Patti, as they brought humour and a sense of realness to the crazy world they lived in.
So yes, I found the premise and the writing was of a very high level. The original writers of the app and stories had clearly thought this out. But for me, the real problem was the translation of app-to-book. Like I said, I can definitely see how this would have worked as an app. It would have been so interesting, as the characters and stories would have been slowly given out, so the story would have been kept fresh and intriguing. But that doesn’t really work on paper. I was interested for 3/4 of the way through, but then it started to lose its focus and the ending wasn’t satisfying enough. Some characters just seemed to disappear without any proper farewells, and I did have to push myself to actually finish. Maybe due to how it was written or delivered, there were some parts were the narration felt slow and the big climax was disappointing to say the least.
But honestly, I think that is due to how it was changed from app to book. It does go to show that how stories are told originally really makes all the difference!
So unfortunately, I cannot give this a 4/5. The premise was fantastic, as was the writing. But it just didn’t work as a book. Not to this reviewer anyway.
But let me know! Have you ever read or used The Silent History app/book? How does it compare?
Once again, huge thank you to Nudge for sending me this.
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