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Out Backward

3.45 of 5 stars 3.45  ·  rating details  ·  692 ratings  ·  106 reviews
Sam Marsdyke is a lonely young man, dogged by an incident in his past and forced to work his family farm instead of attending school in his Yorkshire village. He methodically fills his life with daily routines and adheres to strict boundaries that keep him at a remove from the townspeople. But one day he spies Josephine, his new neighbor from London. From that moment on, S ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published July 1st 2008 by Harper Perennial (first published January 1st 2008)
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Community Reviews

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Sometimes, when I read a really good book, the subsequent review practically writes itself. I normally start the first draft of a review when I'm halfway through a book; occasionally even earlier. If I absolutely LOVED the book, you'd think this would be easier. Yet it's been days since I finished God's Own Country and I haven't yet written a word about it. Why the delay? In part, it could be because I just know it's going to be difficult to do this book justice. My initial response upon finishi ...more
I first saw this book advertised in a magazine afew months ago, but only caught a glimpse of the cover with neither the author nor title - and was trying to find it since, as that cover image stuck in my head. I had no idea what the book was about, but I was looking for it - and if not for Goodreads I'd probably never have found it. Now tell me that covers don't sell books!

The book in question was God's Own Country, debut of the English writer Ross Raisin, which has been nominated for several pr
Debbie Reschke Schug
I appreciated what the author was trying to do here, but I didn't necessarily enjoy reading this book. To be fair, I'm not sure how much my entertainment level should affect the amount of stars, but I felt a certain level of ambivalence while reading the story...and I kinda detected that the author either had or struggled with that ambivalence while writing this.
It's saying something that I liked reading the author’s interview and an additional essay in the back of the book more than the actual
Paula Connelly
The blurb on the cover of this book is spot on! It is both amusing and at the same time dark and disturbing.

There's no doubt about it, the writing is superbly done. How else could I have found such a disturbed individual as the main character so likeable? For the largest part of the book I found myself sympathising with his viewpoint and, even as it became clear there was something more sinister going on, I still felt that it wasn't all entirely his fault.

While reading I felt that a subtext to
started this on the train this morning and loving it already. Sharp, funny writing. Takes the piss out of ramblers (Gods Own Country being Yorkshire of course): 'Daft sods in pink and green hats' - I laugh the laugh of recognition - that's me.

...enjoyed this, the charm of the (unreliable, slighty bonkers) young narrator wins you over immediately. Bit like the 'Butcher Boy' you're drawn in by his jokey style, his use of dialect, his love of animals and nature. All the animals talk, sheep, dogs, w
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
On the back cover of "God's own country", amongst the usual praise for a "wonderfully unique" debut novel I read "very funny and very disturbing". To be honest, I never really laughed once but agree that it is a deeply disturbing book that you just can't put down.

All through the read I couldn't shut off this feeling of dread of what the budding association of "lankenstein" aka "bogeyman" aka Sam Marsdyke and the newly moved "towns'" daughter will end in. As he is the hero of the novel one wants
Enjoyed this very much - how cleverly I was drawn in from the very start into empathising with the main character, who despite being seemingly undeservedly marginalised in a close knit society, yet demanded my sympathies because of his humour and love of his natural surroundings. It was a very long way into the book before I stopped forgiving him misdemeanours and could stand back and realise the sinister path the author had led me on in backing him as the underdog.
I was also swallowed up by th
My book has the American title, Out Backward (which I like better) and the cover art is different, green with a picture of some wild mushrooms. I don't remember where I got this book but it's an autographed copy.

This book had the largest amount of British slang I have ever encountered which I found rather fascinating, sometimes puzzling and ultimately made for slow-going reading-wise in some respects. Most of the time I can figure it out from the context but I did occasionally have to look-up a
Sam Marsdyke is an outsider. An adolescent working on his parent's farm following expulsion from school due to a rape allegation, Sam struggles to interact and integrate into the community. Living largely in isolation, Sam lavished his attention on the sheep and puppies on the farm. That is, until a new family move in next door and Sam develops an obsession with the daughter - "the girl" as she is referred to. Their initial awkward friendship quickly escalates into something very dark and altoge ...more
Debbie Reschke Schug
***UPDATE: I upped the number of stars I originally gave to this because, as it turns out, I've been thinking a lot about this book. And any book that I reflect on a week after finishing it deserves another star.
Original review:
I appreciated what the author was trying to do here, but I didn't necessarily enjoy reading this book. To be fair, I'm not sure how much my entertainment level should affect the amount of stars, but I felt a certain level of ambivalence while reading the story...and I ki
This is a striking first novel that combines a racy story line (which one isn’t quite sure is all in the main protagonist’s head) with some wonderful Yorkshire phrases (which one cannot be entirely sure are utter fiction or not) and some beautifully descriptions of the North Yorkshire moors and farming life in general.

That seemingly least offensive breed of people, ramblers, come in for some enjoyably sharp criticism and the unwelcome influx of the middle classes into a rural community, complete
What is it about some debut novels from British men and disturbed unreliable narrators? There may be a thesis in there somewhere, if someone could be bothered to think it through! This book reminds me of a bunch of others (The Collector, The Wasp Factory and The Butcher Boy, although the latter isn’t a debut) but manages not to be derivative. The narrator is extremely engaging and I loved the evocation of the North Yorkshire countryside having visited there often. Some of the social commentary f ...more
Also called Out Backwards. Another book like Waterline that makes the line between someone who functions well in society and someone who's behavior is considered anti-social, dangerous or aggressive seem very thin. One can take the same clues from the environment that most of us agree to interpret in a similar way and tweak them a bit, reinterpret them, and come up with an entirely different view of the world. One realizes that behavior that might get someone jail time might not stem from intent ...more
Annie Harrison
God's Own Country is an extraordinary tale of delusion. Like the landscape and the characters it portrays, the narrative is menacing and uncomfortable. Ross Raisin writes with a unique style, blending plot, description, dialogue and thoughts in a melange of rambling copy. Mutterings of humour are expressed through the thick Yorkshire dialect of Sam Marsdyke's parochial world.

The reader's relationship with the main protagonist changes as the story progresses, and it becomes a gothic account of a
I really enjoyed this, it's kind of like channeling Clockwork Orange's Alex into a small farm on the Yorkshire moors. It manages to walk the tightrope of being very funny, very sinister but also very clever all at the same time. The way Sam picks up on small bits of Josephine's conversation and then re-iterates them to himself is both very smart and very believable. It's not very often you pick up a book that can make you laugh out loud either. If it perhaps isn't as gripping when events start t ...more
reminded, plot-wise of naill griffiths "sheepshagger", in that we have here a psychopathic yorkshire "farmboy", but most of the comparisons stop there. Ianto in sheepshagger gets into meth, coke, x, booze, and rather enjoys stomping boyscouts from london into mud holes so that the only thing left of them is their socks, whereas Sam is, what, much more even-headed, hahahahaha, for a psycho. i look forward to raisin's new book. btw, called "out backward" in usa and "god's own country" in uk. that ...more
Four stars for the writing. I love books written in dialect and this one really comes alive. Probably make a fantastic radio play. The narrator also comes alive and while you see clearly the people around him, by the end you feel how deeply he is cut off from from all other human beings. They are part of the scenery for him, or less than the scenery. He cares for animals and people but without fully understanding the expectations between people that underpin family ties and a wider society. This ...more
I enjoyed God's Own Country - if enjoyed can be said of a novel about a damaged young man causing unintentional havoc in people's lives. It's a disturbing psychological tale but not without its humour. Main character, Sam Marsdyke's view of the world is written so vividly and passionately from his point of view that I found myself sympathising with his motives for his actions. They seem entirely rational to him and yet are, after a little shake of the head to remind myself, staunch criminal acts ...more
This book is somewhat difficult to read. The conversations between people are not written in the typical way so I lost track of who was speaking and when it was an actual sentence or a thought. This book is also written in some form of dialect that I am unfamiliar with. It was very off-putting at first and about 20 pages or so into it, I was afraid I was going to have to give it up. This story is okay. Nothing mind blowing, nothing riveting. Also, on the back, it says that Marsdyke and the girl ...more
This book is set in the farms and villages of a North Yorkshire moor in which the scenery plays a significant role. Sam Marsdyke is a young farmer who left school under a cloud having apparently sexually assaulted a fellow student. He is awkward, lanky (refers to himself as Lankenstein) and his only friend is his sheepdog and his internal monologue. Into this picture comes a 15 year old girl who is part of a townie family who has moved into the neighbouring farm from London as part of the change ...more
Nov 02, 2008 Betty rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who likes to delve into the whys and wherefores of life and the mind of the unusual
A strange and unusual book, written in the broad Yorkshire dialect, easy enough to pick up as you go along. The author has certainly done his research. A young boy is accused of something he didn’t actually do and is kicked out of school. He must work at the home farm and forget about education. When we come into his story he is about 19 years old. Downtrodden and a town misfit, he lives an eventful life within his own mind. The story is sometimes humorous, often deceptive, and somewhat depressi ...more
Well, it has been a good while since I've encountered an absolutely top-rate read so I am delighted to say that I have no hesitation in awarding God's Own Country a 5 star review.

God's Own Country is a tale about Sam Marsdyke, a 19-year-old farmer's son living in the North Yorkshire Moors. Expelled from school under controversial circumstances and ostracised by his peers, Sam lives a lonely life with only the land and his animals for company. When the neighbouring farmer dies and his land is bou
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
For someone whose childhood was spent on an English sheep farm, this book brought back lots of memories. OK, the North Yorks Moors are the other end of England but the rituals of sheep birth, life and death are the same. The detail is very accurate which shows either personal experience or excellent research.

Sam is a very likeable character for all his misanthropic outlook on life. He adores his sheepdog Sal and has a deep but unspoken love affair for the Moors, threatened in his eyes by the 't
The first element that strikes this reader is the consistent voice of Sam, the protagonist. This voice is observant, funny and quick but also "touched" in a way that wafts of creepy. As you read, you slowly become aware that you may not be able to trust the narrator to tell the story truthfully. Is Sam a monster? Is Sam a product of his surroundings? Is Sam a sociopathic pervert? A well written and compelling read.

Raisin does a terrific with internal monologue. He does it well and he brings you
Jayne Charles
A top quality read, sort of like Wuthering Heights' delinquent great great great grandchild, it's a tour of the wilds of Yorkshire in the company of a narrator who is comic and sinister in equal measure. The author makes excellent use of the first-person narrative style to leave the reader wondering right to the end whether the central character is a total psycho, just misunderstood, or somewhere in between. I particularly liked the use of dialect, happily reminiscent of my own childhood in York ...more
Jan 22, 2009 Mischelle rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: young men
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
David Gallagher
Mar 20, 2010 David Gallagher rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Suicidal people seeking to bore themselves to death
Recommended to David by: Unfortunately it was self-imposed and I've got no one to nag
Shelves: books-i-own
I didn't quite get what Ross Raisin tried to accomplish with this book of his. Writers usually try to please the crowd, or at least a particular group of it, but it seems as though Raisin wrote this book clearly to satisfy his ego that made him believe he's a good writer. To be just, however, there are positive elements into the book: the main character is a memorable one (quite like Holden in The Catcher In The Rye), the books has very strong humorous references, and - at least I - couldn't see ...more
Becky Mears
really interesting book. Loved the fact it was set in the North York Moors. I had been warned it was a bit dark so was relieved that it wasn't darker than I was anticipating. Looking forward to discussing what was fact and what was happening inside the main characters head when I talk it over with my book club buddies
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