Thursday, 8 October 2015

The Underground Bookclub - September Reviews

I've talked about Books on the Underground before on my blog because I love the idea so much. Imagine my DELIGHT when I found out about the Underground bookclub which runs on Mondays once a month. I have been swamped recently with preparing for dance championships in Cardiff and then Hong Kong and have had to make my excuses for two book clubs so far. I am so desperate to join one though! I hope that the Books on the Underground team won't ostracise me quite yet for failing to attend.

The start of  September kicked off with two incredible crime novels both of which I received from Books on the Underground. They always use recycled envelopes to send their books and I once got a little note saying: "We're saving the planet one envelope at a time" I was sold, what a brilliant company.

So, how can you join the Underground bookclub? Visit their website here and follow the instructions. I can't tell you more, it is meant to be Underground after all... #mystery.

The Life I Left Behind
Colette McBeth
Headline 1/1/15 Paperback
Books On The Underground

It gave me a particular thrill to leave behind, The Life I Left Behind on the tube once I'd finished it for someone else to enjoy. The story was very well written from the perspective of a victim of attempted murder and the voice of the victim of a successful murder. The story follows the historical attempted murder through the investigation of the successful one. I have to say, the pace was absolutely spot on. This was a real page turner, and rather than petering out at the end it got really exciting right up until the final pages. McBeth certainly has a real talent for crime. I'd read another of her books and would recommend reading TLILB. There are some who won't enjoy the 'lovely bones' style ghostly narrator, but I thought it was well done and definitely a gripping yarn.

There were a few problems I had with it: one was that I thought that all of the men were demonized pretty badly. While the female characters were nuanced and well thought out the men seemed extremely simple in contrast. Perhaps the depth of the female characters just completely dominated them. Initially I found the original victim to be a simpering and tiresome character, one review on amazon has called her 'Moaning Melody' which could not be more apt...As the story developed however, her history and her reactions changed and I absolutely fell in love by the end. Another thing I didn't like was that when the murder victim is discovered and its all public the original victim looks at her picture and instantly decides she likes her, and imagines them both as friends. I thought that was a bit obvious and made Eve seem a bit like the innocent angel, which no one is. I thought it was very well done.

Burnt Paper Sky
Gilly Macmillan
Piatkus 27/8/15 Paperback
Books On The Underground

If you like Gone might be disappointed with this one. Burnt Paper Sky is an excellent read, that much is certain, I didn't see the ending coming, I kept turning pages and I liked the different view points from the mother and within the police department. The story follows a mother after her son is taken from the woods without a trace. Dealing with the press and projecting the wrong image (reminiscent of Nick in Gone Girl...) was an interesting thing as from the readers perspective you feel on the mothers side, to show the public opinion the story is also peppered with blog posts and news items and police bulletins with comments.

I felt that the book was very good, I had particular interest in it as I was around at the literary agent when the manuscript was sold so I felt very excited about reading it. It WAS perhaps too reminiscent of Gone Girl with a different spin and unfortunately I thought it was a shame that the two were so similar as it detracted from BPS' own style. I do think it is worth a read for crime fans, particularly parents I think would relate more with the story as it involves child abductions. I also found the inclusion of statistics to do with missing children to be very interesting. The family history down the sister's storyline was a bit of a bum note for me, I thought it was unnecessary, as did many other reviewers. Overall I enjoyed it, but it was not as memorable as I wanted it to be, maybe my expectations were too high.

The Chimes
Anna Smaill
Sceptre 12/2/15 Kindle
Amazon Kindle

Ambitious is what I would say about Chimes. I thought it would be a brilliant change to spice up the Man Booker list this year which was looking a bit dower. It didn't make it to the shortlist and now, having read it, I can see why. It was an incredible idea which really ought to be a series. I thought the second half seemed rushed to cram the story in and it got a bit lost after that. The move from London to Oxford in a re imagined world was a bit too close to the Northern Lights and The Bone Season ideas and unfortunately isn't nearly done as well. I will now deal with a minor spoiler. For those in the know: the relationship between Simon and Lucien which takes a turn...was an utterly unnecessary plot point that adds nothing and appears to be there to do something to make the two characters more of a team, which honestly was pointless. It was also done with a rather blunt style and painted a rather ridiculous relationship.

It definitely was a beautiful read to begin with, although the history eventually began to come out I honestly wasn't that interested. It was difficult. On the one hand it's a mamoth story with a mamoth style to go with it and was rushed into a single narrative and it suits it to stay within that style and just keep getting more mad. I thought the idea could have been handled more simply and been a smaller story beautifully written and nuanced but I think Smaill just had to run with what she had. It's a shame; I think she has incredible potential as a writer but the narrative was rushed and not thought out well enough to build a single good book.

Check out

No comments:

Post a Comment