Wednesday, 16 July 2008

The Outcast by Sadie Jones

After struggling through every word, every page, and every paragraph of The Sound and The Fury, I was initially relieved to have a book which was easy to read. I flew this book and was able to read without having to think. But the novelty wore off rather quickly.

This is Jone's debut novel and despite what the critics say, you can tell. It feels rushed. And sophmoric.

Lewis is an odd boy to begin with. He is smothered with love by his eccentric mother and thrown completely off bablance when his father returns home after fighting in the second World War. He was only 2 when his father left and he doesn't know this man who has suddenly commandeered all of his mother's attention. During a picnic with his mother, she drowns.

This was only the first plot device that seems contrived. She was a good swimmer and whilst his mother was tipsy from far too much wine in the afternoon it is never clear to me how she drowned or why he couldn't save her. It is amazing how sobering a dip in very cold water can be. Trust me, I know. Just don't ask how!

Lewis is surrounded by broken people, far too many broken people. Not a single adult steps in to help or offer comfort. Now maybe that is the time and the place but it didn't ring true to me.

This could be a good book and maybe the author's talent will mature. The characters are only superficially developed with the exception of Lewis. And his oddness seems false and manufactured, the way a teenager dramatises their difference when trying to establish their own identity separate from their parents. I'd give this one a miss. There is just too little time to waste on mediocre literature.

Book Group Verdict: Everyone loved it but me. Maybe I need a new book group. I should have published this post ages ago but I forgot!

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