Review: Vox by Christina Dalcher

“Silence can be deafening”

Genre: General adult fiction, dystopian fiction

Similar to: The Handmaid’s Tale, The Power

Could be enjoyed by: Fans of feminist dystopian fiction

Publication date: 23rd August 2018

So, dear readers, you’ve reached the third instalment of my unintentional series of dystopian feminist fiction reviews. I’ve recently talked about the original (The Handmaid’s Tale), the new kid (The Power) and now we have the pretender to the throne: Vox.

Jeanie lives in a near future version of America in a world where women are forced into their “traditional” role of mother and housewife. They’re limited to speak only 100 words per day by a delightful little wrist counter that gives an electric shock to anyone who goes over their daily allowance. Through an unlikely event, Jeanie is given permission to remove her counter, return to the workplace and continue her medical research into the creation of a drug that can repair the speech of someone who has had a stroke. However, as Jeanie finds out more about her role within a much wider team and the sinister ramifications of her research she is forced to decide – should she shut up and play along or make her voice heard?

I’ll be honest – Vox was a bit of a letdown for me. Despite being a very similar premise to The Handmaid’s Tale it was initially fairly well executed (with a few niggles – I’ll come to those in a moment). However, by the time I got to around 70% of the way in, shit got weird. Like crazy coincidence, why would that happen, why is she there, I don’t understand this ending weird. 

Urgh.

But first things first – the good bits. I did initially enjoy the premise and I loved how pacey the writing was. At first, I was completely drawn into the story and I loved hearing Jeanie’s internal monologue knowing that she couldn’t vocalise her disagreement with the comments of her male children or husband and the sense of frustration and tension that built. There were some very touching scenes with Jeanie and her daughter, like when they couldn’t say goodbye to each other or when her daughter wins an award at school and Jeanie comes to the horrifying realisation that it’s because she’s not spoken at all throughout the day. Her eldest son is very much a product of the misogynistic regime and as much as I wanted to punch him in the face I loved the edge that this gave to their relationship and how it highlighted Jeanie’s powerlessness to parent without words. However, Jeanie has four children and I felt like her twin boys weren’t really fleshed out enough to be of any consequence – so why were they there?

Unfortunately there was also a number of other things that didn’t sit quite right with me. Throughout the book Jeanie is having an affair and although I could accept the possibility of that happening, it was the reckless way that she went about it that got on my nerves. You’re living in a totalitarian regime where your every word is recorded and your every movement tracked by CCTV and yet you still manage to go to a semi secluded house for regular extra-marital, contraceptive free sex? When the probable punishment is execution? Really?

As the book progressed I became less engaged with the storyline. There was a greater emphasis on the scientific nature of Jeanie’s work that, frankly, became quite boring and I began to feel that as the ending drew nearer things became a little rushed. There were far too many situations where Jeanie seemed to take ridiculous risks and the storyline all seemed a little too convenient (“I know exactly how to find that out – my husband just happens to work with the President! I’m sure he’ll have files that explain everything somewhere in our house! Oh look – there’s my uni friend who I haven’t seen in twenty years! Let’s just turn on an MRI machine for no reason to drown out our conversation – I’m sure that won’t look suspicious on the closely guarded CCTV!” etc. etc.)

Then there was the actual ending itself. Perhaps I’d just got bored, perhaps I’d been a bit bamboozled by the science but I just. Didn’t. Get. It. Then *spoiler alert* there was the super trite “oh, my husband’s out of the picture so now me and my four-kids-who-definitely-won’t-be-scarred-by-all-of-this can be with you, handsome affair guy, and we can all live happily ever after!” Urgh, pleeeeeze . 

So, all in all, Vox could have been a great book – it was certainly an interesting premise, had a fantastic start and was initially well written – but it went downhill fast. It felt like a response to an exam question where the student realises half way through that they’re running out of time, so they’d better start tying up loose ends in the fastest, most obvious way possible. Or like the author was, hmmmm, limited on words??? Was it a clever metaphor?

Nah, probably not.

Rating: Three “I messed up my timing but I think I got away with it” out of five.

Please note that I read this book for free via Netgalley in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks Netgalley! 

 

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Review: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

โ€‹โ€‹”Nolite te bastardes carborundorum”

Genre: Dystopian fiction, feminist fiction

Similar to: Obviously this is the original but Naomi Alderman’s The Power.

Could be enjoyed by: Everyone. This is a really important book to read.

Publication date: Unbelievably, way back in 1985

I’ve kind-of-unintentionally been reading a lot of feminist dystopian fiction recently so I thought it was only right that I should go back and read the original novel that kick-started the who sub-genre; The Handmaid’s Tale. Plus it pops up on literally every top 100 books ever and I felt really bad that as someone who identifies as a feminist I hadn’t actually read it. I’ll have to think of a new “I’m a feminist but ..”

The novel depicts a terrifying future where the world has been plagued by disaster. The rise of ultra-conservative far-right politics has attempted to provide salvation and increase the dangerously low birth rate by introducing a new world order. Women beyond child bearing age are employed as “Marthas”, domestic servants for the political leaders.”Handmaids” are women who can, in theory, have children (having already given birth – although their children have been taken away) and are used to breed with the powerful men – like a one-woman harem living under their roof. The wives of the powerful men have been left to be housewives, banned from having their own jobs or income. Anyone disagreeing with the ultra strict rules is either hung, tortured or sent to the colonies; the radioactive wastelands where they will work, suffer and die. In that order.

It is truly frightening how prescient this novel is. I see wacko Trump supporters with their misogynistic rhetoric, their thirst for power and the slow erosion of women’s rights and I think – is this where we’re headed? Is the Handmaid’s Tale a vision of the future? For that reason alone, I think this is an incredibly important book.

I loved the unnamed narrator (her name is only June in the TV series) and I was really rooting for her to fight back. I liked that she wasn’t some kind of mastermind freedom fighter but a terrified ordinary person who sometimes made mistakes and bad choices – it made her far more authentic and I could see myself making those same errors of judgement if I was in her shoes. 

I loved the examples of female friendship, both in the time before and during her resistance to the regime and how it was a network of women who were working to free themselves from the situation they found themselves in. There were so many examples of bravery and defiance from various different female characters and I enjoyed reading them all – from the subtle to the overt to the downright suicidal. 

Throughout the novel, questions of morality, religion and the role of women were repeatedly asked. I thought it was so clever that Atwood made extreme situations almost plausible and I loved how it seemed like none of the characters were fully bought in to the ideology – they certainly weren’t happy – and yet there was no collective challenge to the regime. She showed how utterly effective fear can be in controlling a population – even if they then have to do the most unthinkable things and a brilliant illustration of power and privilege – the more power you had, the less you had to play by the rules. I thoroughly enjoyed the way that Atwood presented these ideas without seeming judgemental or forcing her own perspective on the reader. Needless to say, the writing was brilliant throughout and I whizzed through the book in a couple of days.

I know a lot of people have criticised the ending of the novel but I liked that it finished on a cliffhanger, with the ambiguous outcome suggestend through someone piecing together historical fragments years later. In that way, Atwood kind of let you choose your own ending and I felt like there was a moral in this too – as if she was pointing out that this extreme situation could absolutely happen (and in certain parts of the world, already has) so we have a choice, right now, whether to ignore the slippery slope of casual misogyny, homophobia, racism, ableism etc. or fight against it. 

Overall, I loved The Handmaid’s Tale and I’d urge everyone to read it. It’s a gripping read, very well written and a chilling reminder that we must stand up for what we believe in before it’s too late. 

Rating: ๐ŸŒŸFive “Under his eye” out of five ๐ŸŒŸ

Prescient, important and morally terrifying, this is an incredible novel and a horrifying example of what probably started as “locker room talk”. 

Please note that I read this novel as part of the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge #3 Read a classic of genre fiction.

 

Review: The Foxhole Court by Nora Sakavic

Genre: Fiction, YA

Similar to: The worst Twilight fan fiction.

Could be enjoyed by: Sadists.

Publication date: 15th January 2013


photo courtesy of Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17259690-the-foxhole-court

WHAT EVEN IS THIS BOOK????


I was amazed – AMAZED – that there is an entire fandom surrounding the Foxhole Court series. I literally have no idea why. My notes when reading it include “I don’t even know what the story is about any more”, “Exy appears to be completely unfathomable” and “surely those contact lenses ain’t fooling anyone?” It was badly written, badly structured, had massive plot holes, was overly detailed in parts then woefully scant in others. I felt like I had started a trilogy in the middle of book two.

The essential premise is that a teenager called Neil has a dodgy past and ends up going on the run with his mother. Something happens to her (murdered? Suicide? I’m not clear) so he makes a run for it, changing his name and wearing coloured contact lenses as a disguise. Oh, and I think he dyes his hair but that’s never mentioned. Neil is a good Exy player (which as far as I can tell us a kind of violent lacrosse) and (I think) used to play for a good team so miraculously ends up playing for his high school (I’m not even going into why he would go back to school, or how he would enrol with no paperwork) and gets picked up by the Foxes, some kind of reject Raggydoll college team that’s only made up of violent psycopaths, drug addicts and the euphemistically titled “people with a past”. Why they’re interested in Neil is beyond me, seeing as his past is a total secret, but there you go. He joins the team, they nearly kill/maim/sexually assault him on a number of occasions, they practice drills but never an actual game (come on…really?) then there’s some kind of feud and I don’t even know. 

You might feel like I’ve left a lot out of that explanation and you might be a little confused – well, join the club! I honestly couldn’t make head not tail of the story. The ridiculous premise keeps getting weirder as you find out more about Neil (literally his Mum’s dying wish is that he stops playing Exy; next thing you know he’s in a college team playing the kids of the family who are after him). I don’t know enough about college sports in the US to be able to comment on whether the unknown new recruit to the worst team in a college league would be invited on to what seemed to be Good Morning America but I’m guessing that’s not a normal occurance. Similarly, I think you might run a mile if the family that are after you have members in a rival team that you make a personal enemy of – especially if you have thousands of dollars in the bank? 

See what I mean about plot holes?

The characters were mostly all horrible psychopathic bullies (some weird shit about earning their approval) so I couldn’t emotionally connect with any of them and Neil had so much of his past hidden that I couldn’t get a handle on him either. The other Exy players weren’t exactly well fleshed out as individuals (one dimensional is putting it mildly) so I kept getting confused about who was who. There was also a horribly problematic scene where they purposefully spike Neil’s drink and he wakes up in bed with (I think) the perpetrator…but it’s ok because he assures him that nothing happened. I don’t even know where to start with that one – except to say that THAT IS TOTALLY NOT OK, ILLEGAL, HIGHLY DANGEROUS AND COULD HAVE LED TO LITERALLY ANYTHING HAPPENING. Oh, and saying “hey, nothing happened!” (especially if all of your previous interactions have been creepily flirty) doesn’t make it better. 

Despite The Foxhole Court appearing to be the most complicated book in history, it’s surprising how little actually happens. I mean, considering it’s meant to be about Exy it takes over half of the novel to even get to a practice drill and nearly 80% before they even play their first game together (in front of thousands of fans – their first game together) but I have to say that the writing did improve once the game actually got going – so much so that I almost considered getting book two. 

Almost.

The Foxhole Court is basically an ok-ish premise executed poorly. The writing is awkward, the plot holds less water than the Titanic and the characters are just horrible. The fact that it has a fandom (I mean, a HUGE, obsessive fandom) suggests that I’m obviously missing something so maybe I’m just to old to appreciate it but this book definitely wasn’t for me.

Rating: one and a half “people seriously like this?” out of five.


Please note that I read this book because the Orangutan Librarian said it was complete nonsense and I didn’t believe it could be that bad. 

Turns out she was right. 

 

Calendar Girls August: Best Novel Set in Summer

Well this is very exciting! For the first time ever I’m taking part in a meme…and not just any meme…the Calendar Girls meme!

Calendar Girls was a monthly blog event created by Melanie at MNBernard Books and Flavia at Flavia the Bibliophile and will now be hosted by Katie at Never Not Reading and Adrienne at Darque Dreamer Reads. It is designed to ignite bookish discussions among readers and was inspired by the 1961 Neil Sedaka song Calendar Girl.

Just like the song, each month has a different theme. Each blogger picks their favorite book from the theme and on the first Monday of the month reveals their pick in a Calendar Girls post. 


So without further ado, this month’s theme is…



And my pick is…



The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith

I suspect that everyone else taking part in the meme might have chosen a nice light summery read so I thought I’d be a bit different and choose a dark psychological thriller!


I absolutely love Patricia Highsmith and I especially love this book. The Talented Mr.Ripley is an incredibly tense novel that keeps you in suspense from beginning to end. Tom Ripley is a con-man who seizes a fortuitous opportunity to get paid to go to Italy to convince one of his well off acquaintances (Dickie Greenleaf) to return home to America. Upon arriving in Italy and properly befriending Dickie he realises that the life of relaxation, painting and pottering about in Italian seaside towns is one that he’d quite like for himself, but the small matter of finance prevents it. If only his life could be more like Dickie’s…or perhaps if only his life could actually become Dickie’s…


I love the glamorous setting of the book and the juxtaposition of the beautiful Italian coastline with the dark, underhand actions of Tom. I mean, just look at how they shot the film version:



The writing is absolutely excellent and the way that Highsmith builds the suspense is incredibly skilful. Despite being a total psychopath, Tom Ripley is clever, devious and dangerous to know – and despite everything you can’t help but be on his side. It’s not an easy read and it’s certainly not a happy summery story but I think that The Talented Mr. Ripley is a brilliant book if you like your sun drenched stories with a darker twist. 

*Just a quick note – the artwork for the Calendar Girls meme and the monthly pick has been shamelessly stolen by me from Katie’s original post advertising the event. I hope that’s ok โ˜บ


TL;DR July Reviewย 

โ€‹Hello Bookworms!

It seems like every monthly review post that I do starts with the same sentence but my God July has been HOT. Thankfully we FINALLY got some rain so my crops/garden plants are saved, if somewhat battered. There is honestly no better sound than rainwater trickling into my bone dry water butts โ˜บ.

I snapped this picture with my phone, uploaded it to the BBC 4 Gardeners Question Time Facebook Group without thinking – and now they want to use it for their unofficial charity calender! I’m not sure if it will actually happen (I took the pic in portrait and they’ll only accept landscape images and I can’t squash it into landscape dimensions without ruining the composition) so we will see.

Even though it seems like ages ago now, July was the Month of Sport in our house, what with World Cup fever and our annual pilgrimage to Silverstone to watch the vroom vroom cars. For once the oven-like ground temperature made sitting in the usually freezing cold stands quite palatable and it was lovely to not have to drag 25 jumpers, a rain poncho, hat scarf and gloves and my winter coat round for three days (not even joking, that’s literally what I take). This year we stayed on for the Friday evening’s entertainment and watched Dodgy, Heather Small and Jo Wiley (doing a 90’s indie disco set) perform live. It makes me slightly sad that I’m clearly now within the target age range for F1 fans – when we first started going we would laugh at the dad rock musical offerings but it was a brilliant evening and gave a real festival/illegal rave atmosphere to what I refer to as “expensive picnic day” (the only F1 “racing” on Friday is free practice, so not much action on track).

There’s no more news about the potential closure of our allotment and to be honest, the lack of having water up there has been such a nightmare that we’ve seriously questioned whether we should move to a better run site anyway. Frustratingly, there is provision for running water but the committee have turned it off due to problems with kids leaving the taps running. There’s a few other sites that are closer to us and have more plotholders so it depends what happens.

The house renovation has stalled a bit – the non-hubs is still tiling the bathroom and I’ve been rubbing down exterior paintwork but it’s slow going. I can’t wait to get the tiles grouted, light fitting in, shower installed and windowsill in, then that’ll be one room finally finished! Unless we decide to put in a blind…we can sort that out later. 

We’ve been out for a few more meals this month with family and friends (to the same restaurant we went to last month – it’s become a favourite) and had more yummy Italian food. I’ve persevered with my morning yoga routine and I’m starting to notice a bit of a difference with previously tight jeans feeling a bit looser. I definitely feel stronger and I think it’s really helped my posture too ๐Ÿ™.

In terms of my blog, I wrote an extremely uncharacteristic discussion post about re-reading books which got much more interaction than my usual review posts. I still feel like my discussion posts are usually rubbish but I’m going to try to write a few more and see how they go. You only get better at something with perseverance, right? I also wrote a “help me!” post asking for book recommendations and I’ve got some great new additions to my TBR, so thank you to everyone who made suggestions. 

My Les Mis read along has seriously gone by the wayside this month (I’m currently in a bit where the chapters are really long) so I’ll have to make a concerted effort in August to catch up. My ARC’s are in better shape (I’m even starting to clear out my backlog) so that’s good and I’m a bit further forward with #ReadHarder so I’m quite pleased with my progress there too. 

I wrote six book reviews this month which were mostly rated 4/5 so a pretty good reading month overall.  

The TL;DR overview for July is:

Beartown by Fredrik Backman: I really struggled with this book. I found the whole thing slow, confusing and ultimately depressing – although lots of people love it. A possibly unpopular two and a half out of five.

After The Party by Cressida Connolly: A weird book – well written but I just couldn’t feel sorry for a member of the British Union of Fascists. Historically interesting but not for me, I’m afraid. Three and a half out of five. 

The Night Listener by Armistead Maupin: I love Armistead Maupin and this book did not disappoint. Touching, dark and beautifully written. Four out of five.

Now You See Her by Heidi Perks: Literally couldn’t put this down. Read it all in one go – highly recommended. Four out of five.

A Short Affair ed. Simon Oldfield: A fantastic anthology of short fiction, brought to you by the amazing Pin Drop project. Brilliant for dipping in and out of. Four out of five.

Bitter by Francesca Jakobi: A twisted love story about the mother/son bond. Absolutely loved it, even if it was slightly uncomfortable at times. Four and a half out of five.

So that’s July wrapped up! I hope you’re not too sunburnt!

How was your July? Have you read any of the books I read last month? What are your thoughts on re-reads? Follow the links or let me know in the comments!

Much love,

Lucinda xxx

Review: The Power by Naomi Alderman

โ€‹โ€‹“Electrifying!”

Genre: Science fiction, speculative fiction

Similar to: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Could be enjoyed by: Fans of dystopian fiction or readers wanting to explore gendered oppression from another angle

Publication date: 27th October 2016

Imagine a world where, on the basis of your gender, you’re expected to act demurely and not come across as angry or aggressive. A world where you’re patronised, belittled and afraid of physical and sexual violence because you’re not physically strong enough to fight back. A world where society is structured to silence you, dismiss your ideas and treat you as a maid/sex slave. Where you can only leave the house with a chaperone, aren’t allowed to drive, can’t go out at night, can’t run a business or own property, can’t vote and have to dress in an appropriate manner. 

That’s not too hard to imagine, right? Because I bet you related those ideas to the treatment of women in places like the Middle East (or maybe even the UK or US). 

Ok, so now imagine that I wasn’t talking about the treatment of women – I was talking about the treatment of men.

Oooh.

That’s exactly what Naomi Alderman did in her prize-winning novel “The Power”. In it, women have developed a “skein”, a body organ that produces an electrical charge at will. Some women have a stronger charge than others but almost all are able to produce a bolt of electricity so strong that it can kill whoever they aim it at. Only women are affected and the book follows four individuals (three women and one man) to see how the world changes. 

The novel is also a book within a book, where a fictional male character  (Ben) writes to Alderman from some point in the future, daring to challenge the assumption that men have always been the weaker sex. The subtlety in the writing of these letters is incredible – the way that Ben defers to Alderman, her arguments that biologically women have to be strong and dominant to protect their children, her patronising tone and the final killer line to help Ben’s research to gain credibility “have you considered publishing it under a woman’s name?” all absolutely slayed me. It also highlighted some important points about our own long held beliefs about inherent gender differences – are they really as factual as we think or are they based on lazy stereotypes?

The main thrust of the novel showed how, as always, absolute power corrupts absolutely. It actually shocked me how there was a part of me genuinely cheering on the women who used their newfound strength to oppress the men. One of the best illustrations of this is the inclusion of two news anchors (one male, one female) and the shifting power dynamic between them as women across the globe caused riots, overthrew governments and created wars to exercise their dominance. Again, the subtlety of the writing was excellent but it really made me question the bit of myself that was thinking “ha! Now you know what it’s like!” which kind of suggests that as much as I would have hoped that the discovery of The Power would have created an equal society, the chances are that things would probably play out exactly as described. And – and this is a terrible transgression and one that I’m not proud of – you know who annoyed me the most? The men’s rights activists. I’m a terrible person and a very guilty feminist. ๐Ÿ˜ˆ

I read that Naomi Alderman doesn’t like people referring to her work as dystopian fiction because for a lot of women this is simply their lived reality. It was amazing how, by simply flipping the genders, the treatment of men felt so abhorrent – and yet we know that women around the globe are treated like this every day. The Power made me confront my own internalised misogyny in a way that completely took me by surprise (I genuinely didn’t think I had any) and made me think about gender issues from an entirely different perspective. If anything, it’s actually given me a tiny bit of empathy towards men who think that feminists are just miserable women trying to take over the world – we’re obviously not but I can see why, from their lofty privileged perches, some men might see feminism as a threat to their way of life – which I guess it might be. (That’s about the point that my empathy dissipates and I think “why do you think you’re entitled to this? It’s not fair!” and I’m back to bring angry.)

The only issue that I had with The Power was the characters. In The Great Female Power Grab most of them behave horribly and there wasn’t really anyone that I connected with. I think this lack of engagement was the missing cherry from the top of the cake – if just one character had been a bit nicer then this really would have been a five star review ๐Ÿ˜ฅ

Overall, The Power is a dazzling, electrifying book (see what I did there? Ok I stole the pun from Margaret Atwood but still).  The premise is incredibly ambitious and it made me think about power and gender dynamics from an entirely different perspective. If only the characters had been more likeable I would have been fangirling left right and centre but as it stands…

Rating: Four “Not all women!” out of five

Clever, unique, thought proving but not quite attention grabbing enough – the best chips you’ve ever had but without salt and vinegar .

Please note that I read this novel as part of the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2018 #17 Read a sci-fi novel with a female protagonist by a female author. 

 

Review: Bitter by Francesca Jakobi

โ€‹โ€‹“Someone is watching you”*

Genre: General adult fiction

Similar to: Part Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca, part Eleanor Oliphant…

Could be enjoyed by: Fans of suspenseful drama with flawed characters 

Publication date: 8th March 2018th

You know when you’re reading a book and there’s a flawed character who has all the right intentions but goes about everything in completely the wrong way? That’s exactly how I felt about Gilda Meyer, the main character in Bitter. Gilda lives on her own in London near to her newly married and highly ungrateful son Reuben and his wife, Alice. She’s had a hard life, emigrating from Germany as a Jewish refugee during the war and consequently never really fitted in. She is told to marry an older man by her father, who sees the nuptials as a chance to further his business interests and when she falls pregnant Gilda finds herself woefully unprepared for the life of a young mother. Through a series of flashbacks, we explore a complicated mother/son relationship and witness her awkward attempts to right the wrongs of the past. 

Bitter is such a complicated emotional tangle of a book – but I loved every second of it. Gilda is a flawed individual and an unreliable narrator (she drinks a lot; we witness her making up fantastical stories to impress her friends) so it’s often left up to the reader to quite literally read between the lines. Gilda’s viewpoint is also tainted by the twin forces of motherly love and mother’s guilt so you’re often able to see the situation far more clearly than she is. I would hazard a guess that she suffered from post-natal depression following Reuben’s birth but Gilda sees the period as evidence of her inability to be a “proper” mother, something that has cast a perpetual shadow over her relationship with her son. Yet even through his diffident and often downright rude treatment of his mother, Gilda’s love for Reuben never wavers. The more Reuben pushes her away, the more Gilda clings to him – her desperate attempts at getting his attention becoming more and more extreme. I spent a lot of my time reading Bitter thinking “Gilda, no!” but at the same time I completely understood why she would behave in that way. As uncomfortable as it was, it made for a very compelling storyline. 

I loved the honesty of Bitter and the originality of writing about a toxic relationship from a mother/son dynamic. I thought that the single person point of view worked exceptionally well as from the outside Gilda appears to be a very unsympathetic character; a distant alcoholic who has never been able to bond with her son or show him affection. Her obsession with Reuben’s life and her interfering ways could have turned her into a real villain but I felt like Gilda’s character was so engaging that I was completely on her side. Many of the scenes were incredibly poignant and the writing so subtley nuanced that I was completely engrossed within the narrative from start to finish. 

I consistently felt that as Gilda’s behaviour became more extreme that her fragile relationship with Reuben and Alice was liable to come crashing down around her ears so I was on the edge of my seat as I approached the ending. It’s not often that you find out the big final reveal in a book at the same time as the characters so it’s testament to the excellent writing that I didn’t see it coming – but I loved the way that things played out. 

Overall, Bitter is a brilliantly written book with a very original premise, well rounded characters and an enthralling storyline. I felt like I had been sucked into the vortex of Gilda’s guilt/love downward spiral and the more desperate she became the more captivated I was – like watching a slow motion car crash, I simply couldn’t look away. Often uncomfortable but thoroughly engaging, I thought that Bitter was a fantastic read.

Rating: Four and a half “Gilda, no!”s out of five.

*Yet again another misleading grab line. Why?

Please note that I read this book for free via Netgalley in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks Netgalley!