This absolutely captivating novel follows a lonely young protagonist Kya, who has been abandoned by her family in the swamplands of North Carolina at just 6 years old. Her mother leaves the house carrying a suitcase and doesn't look back - followed by her siblings. Baby Kya asks herself: “She knew Pa was the reason they all left; what she wondered was why no one took her with them.”
‘Now is the hour’ is set in 1967, and opens on a highway with Rigby Klusener, seventeen years old, with a suitcase and a flower behind his ear, trying to hitch a ride to San Francisco. We know he’s left behind a pregnant friend, his best four-legged friend and that he has a broken heart. We realise that this is almost the end of the story, and there’s much to learn about why Rigby is there, and how he got to this point.
In this novel, Awad tries to find a new way of exploring this kind of female experience, pulling it from reality and turning it into something truly unique and fantastical. This is Mean Girls if Tina Fey had been on acid while she wrote it, mixed with a Stepford-Wife-colored version of The Craft. It includes a spritz of animal sacrifice, a dash of spontaneous body explosions and a pepper of reanimation.
‘Little eyes’ is an exploration of the relationship between people and technology - a commentary on privacy, intimacy and loneliness. It leaves you unnerved with its striking familiarity. Now with the reality of tech having reached and surpassed the possibilities explored by old-school science fiction, this novel feels profound. Like science-fiction meets psychology; like Philip K. Dick but more insidious, and far more fluffy.
It’s an interesting premise: Junior lives with his wife Henriette, far from anyone else. One day, a strange man comes to the door and tells them that Junior has been selected for a space program, and together they all need to prepare his life and his person to go away for a while. But unfortunately, FOE doesn’t live up to the hype. More than that, it was actually a struggle to finish.
‘Whistle in the Dark’ was really a beautiful surprise. The premise is interesting from the get-go - Jen is a woman dealing with the lingering threat of her fifteen-year-old daughter Lana’s disappearance. In the first few sentences, we learn that Lana has been found alive after four days missing alone in the Lake District. She can’t (or won’t) tell anyone what happened or where she was, leaving her confused family to consider the worst.
Chuck Palahniuk has a saying: “Be clever on someone else’s dime. Being clever will never make your reader cry, laugh and probably won’t break their heart.” And this was what I was thinking throughout this novella - really, there was just no heart.
Feeling very much like a novel of its time, with TV series like Skins into its 5th series by 2011, the storyline follows immature 17-year old Jasper, who believes his step-dad to be a murderer and lies to his therapist about being gay and racist. He spends every evening getting high, drunk or having sex with any girl he can. His best friend Tenaya is troubled; something Jasper only really understands after spotting the cuts down her arm.
This novel might have been the inspiration behind DIE HARD - but rid yourself of the idea that this is John McClane. Joe Leland is a much more three-dimensional protagonist, and the novel is darker, more gritty and surprising than its movie counterpart.
‘The Lottery’ focuses on the community of a small unidentified American town who come together annually to select a member by chance to be stoned to death. The story addresses a number of different themes in its short text; that of violence, of mob mentality, of conscription, of meaningless sacrifice and scapegoats, of men and women carrying out their ‘duty’ unquestioningly no matter the human cost.