The closest description I can give to the feeling that this novel gave me was the joyful uncertainty of IBS (and I'm sure that Reid will be psyched to know that I've made that comparison). But hear me out. You know something's wrong. You don't know what's causing it, you don't know how it's going to manifest itself - only that it will, and soon. You ain't gonna have any control, and you can't stop it. You feel a bit sick. This novel feels like a slow descent into that same feeling as it begins to spin uncontrollably away from you.
'Elevation' is a curious thing. It contains, as so many of King’s greatest pieces of writing do, an extraordinary thing happening within an ordinary world. Scott Carey has realised that he has a strange and untreatable condition - that he is dropping pounds off his weight, without getting thinner.
“The DNA sample that you have provided does not match any of our records. Please return another sample to us.” He paused and read it again. Without saying anything, he flipped it over and skimmed the other side. It listed the countries: 0%, 0%, 0%. Another small line at the bottom: “Your DNA sample has not returned any matches.”
Through the knees of his suit trousers, woollen and scratchy, the child could feel the wet soil seeping. He had found a snail to watch.
Jim Sams is our protagonist, a prime minister-cum-cockroach who has lived the world as a hated-being, a tiny spot on the pavement of Britain and has now woken up wearing the skin suit of the most powerful man in the country. The premise is ridiculous, but then again, so is the politics and it mirrors this quite perfectly.
On the first page, we learn that ‘Tequila Leila’ (as she’s known to her friends) is not at home, cuddled up in bed and warm, but instead she lies dead in a metal rubbish bin on the outskirts of Istanbul - a city which lives and breathes its own personality as loudly as the characters that live within it. We feel immediate devastation that this woman, a person who Elif describes with intimate detail, has met her end here. As Leila herself says: “She could not believe that her mortal existence was over and done with [...] Last night she had left her fingerprints on a whisky glass …”
He kissed me with the kind of urgency you only really see in the movies. It was only now that I started to detect the slightest flavour of something charred and earthy in his tongue. He was definitely a smoker.
'The new me' is undoubtedly one of the most depressing novels I’ve ever read - but in a way that is refreshingly realistic. Films and books do have a habit of making the depressive romantic, exciting, or thrilling. This novel gives us none of that - instead Butler takes on an intimidating task by weaving together a book that explores tedious monotony, a self-defeatist attitude and a steady decline into depression, all while keeping the readers’ attention. If it manages to catch you, it cuts much deeper than most other texts.