Occasionally I meet someone who is wide-eyed and innocent when it comes to mental illness. Not i...moreThis review was originally published to Bookish Ardour
Occasionally I meet someone who is wide-eyed and innocent when it comes to mental illness. Not ignorance so much as complete and utter naiveté. These are people who admit they have had absolutely no experience with mental illness, whether it be themselves or by association. I’m always flabbergasted over this. I never know what to think, my brain freezes.
I see mental illness all around me. So many people have chronic depression, anxiety disorders, social disorders, personality disorders, you name it really. I’m always hard-pressed to think of someone who doesn’t, even mildly, suffer from some form of chronic illness. This is without bringing my brain into it which is chock-a-block with enough chronic conditions for ten people.
Madness: A Memoir is a great read for many reasons. I see it as an excellent introductory story to start with if you have had no experience with chronic illness, especially of the mental kind, and aren’t sure where to begin. Kate’s account gives an idea into life with psychosis, but with bypassing the confusion psychosis can cause the individual.
It’s easy for me to say so as I have my own forms of mental illness. There is much present in Kate’s story I can relate to. Issues with the health system, losing sense of self, lacking human contact, and truly believing the irrational are only some of the aspects people with mental illness can relate to. Kate has a great way of opening up about her experience. There’s a cadence to her writing style, which at times reminds me of irrational episodes, but the delivery is wonderfully structured.
I can understand if someone would not quite understand certain elements though. It is possible to question why someone wouldn’t seek help when they need it, or go so far as to try to cut their arm off, but that’s psychosis for you.
Speaking of which, that’s how Madness begins; she’s trying to cut her arm off. Is it any wonder I read this book in a few days rather than my usual week of reading? None at all! I was riveted. I was riveted all the way to the end. It wasn’t exactly fascinating, but it was engrossing from a chronically ill person’s perspective. It’s eye-opening being able to read another’s thoughts as they’re going through something that can be mirrored in part in your own life.
If you are interested in, or are considering, reading a true account of someone’s long-term experience with psychosis, I’d recommend Memoir: A Madness. I was moved enough to want to do something and I felt connected enough to not feel alone. Kate’s story impacts on many different levels.(less)
Enmity is a story I’m not quite sure about yet. The prologue caught me up, the plot intrigued m...moreThis review was originally published on Bookish Ardour.
Enmity is a story I’m not quite sure about yet. The prologue caught me up, the plot intrigued me, and the ending left me hanging for more, but I can’t decide if I care.
The prologue is pre-solar flare, told in first person by a character who does not appear later, and sets a great tone for the coming story. It was easy to read, the character was relatable, and you just know the inhabitants of the time are in for a horrible existence.
First person is one of my favourite view points for a story, especially something like Enmity, to be told in. However I do have some issues with first person. In first person it can be difficult to share more details of the story and then the reader is left out of the bigger picture. Another problem with first person is when someone dies, someone being the main character. If a protagonist dies when the story is told in first person, then how are they telling the story? At some point you have to realise they’re telling the story. How can they relate what happened when they’ve died?
For the majority of Enmity I was wondering about the protagonist in the prologue. Did she die? Did she live? How did she tell her part of the story if she died? What happened to her? My main problem with the prologue, apart from first-person perspective and death, is I was so drawn into her plight I would love to read a story based in pre-solar flare.
The main body of Enmity takes place sixty years later and is told from the view of two protagonists, Hermia and Nate. Sometimes I really dislike a story being told by more than one character, but thankfully this was not one of them. Hermia and Nate take turns, don’t overlap, and are distinguishable. Their separate stories entwine and compliment each other nicely, even when they form bonds with different social circles.
Only certain characters were memorable and fleshed out for me. Some were flat enough to me for me to be surprised when they were mentioned after a while. Characters like Lola and occasionally Georgie, even though she was mentioned more often than Lola, took me by surprise. It was almost as if they disappeared completely, the story had no problem moving on without them, and then they would appear at certain intervals.
There are characters I rather enjoyed, Hermia and Nate are the top two, but I found Rence and Chase interesting. I was also intrigued by the stories preceding the current predicament the teens found themselves in. I’m sure some of it is born from wondering what happened beforehand, but I think the introduction of parents and their machinations involved with the new world order was written in such a way to pique curiosity.
Personally I’m not sure if I’m interested in finding out what happens next. I don’t know if it’s because I don’t feel the characters had great emotional dimension and created enough thrall in my interest, or if it’s the story itself. I found myself being able to forget what was happening when I wasn’t reading, even though I read large chunks of the story at a time. It would take about two-three pages of reading before I could truly pick up where I’d left off. Except, I think the premise itself was curious and I find myself really wanting to know the story behind the story.(less)
This review was originally posted on Bookish Ardour. I originally read Wolf: Origin and Wolf Creek: Desolation Game in quick succession. As a result t...moreThis review was originally posted on Bookish Ardour. I originally read Wolf: Origin and Wolf Creek: Desolation Game in quick succession. As a result the reviews have been combined.
Spoiler Alert: Wolf Creek: Origin and Wolf Creek: Desolation Game are two separate books, but they are also the prequels to the Australian movie Wolf Creek. I am unsure on how to go about commenting on both novels without spoilers. Please be aware there may be spoilers in this review, for the books and possibly the movie.
I was going to hold off on reading Wolf Creek: Origin and Wolf Creek: Desolation Game until February, but I cracked. There’s nothing more I love than a decent horror story. When it’s a horror story set in the Australian outback and based on a well-known Australian horror movie, well is it any wonder I cracked? With the options of what to read, with how many books are published a year, it can be difficult to whittle through availability and find harsh Aussie stories. I’m always very excited when I come across a story such as Wolf Creek and I tell you what I was not disappointed.
Here’s the thing; I haven’t seen the movie these stories are a prequel for. I’ve heard about it, I’ve had a rough idea about it, but for some reason I haven’t gotten around to seeing it. After devouring Origin and Desolation Game I can say without a doubt I will be watching the movie as soon as I have the time for it. I usually try to control myself when I finish one book before beginning the next one. I like to process what I’ve read then sit down and draft my thoughts into a review. I didn’t get the chance with Origin and Desolation Game. I happily packed both books for my holiday to Melbourne, as I was halfway through Origin already, and decided I couldn’t wait to read Desolation Game. You’ve got a two-in-one review now folks because I couldn’t keep my eager mitts to myself.
I’m not new to the idea of following a protagonist who is a serial killer, a psychopath, or a sociopath. It’s not a new sensation for me to be so confused by my emotions when it comes to reading a story where the protagonist is doing such horrific things. I love these stories. They mess with your head. They turn your perspectives around and force you to analyse your emotions and how you view such deadly people. Don’t get me wrong, I would rather avoid anyone who has a craving for violence, but when you come across a character like Mick Taylor it really does make you see there is no such thing as black and white.
I found myself sympathising for Mick. I found myself being appalled by his behaviour and sad when he gave into his urges. I found myself wanting Mick to get away with murder and at the same time I desperately wanted him to stop. Mick gets under your skin. He gets so far under your skin in Origin that by the time you are well into Desolation Game your thought process is very messed up.
Origin follows Mick and tells the story of his struggles against his dark urges, his inability to accept himself, and the fear he has of being dominated by what he knows is not common. Mick does have victims in Origin, but what I loved about it was Mick being a victim himself. Origin is mainly told from Mick’s perspective and I couldn’t help loving the guy by the end of the story, while being aghast. Desolation Game takes a slightly different tact with following the story from Mick’s perspective as well as a few of his victims. I loved the story being broken up by his time during the war in Vietnam. It added so much more depth to his character.
If you know the story of Wolf Creek you know Mick will need to survive the prequels and get away free in order to wreak terror on his victims in the movie, but there’s still plenty of times where I wondered how on earth he was going to get away with it. His actions are grisly, his manner is cold, but I loved him as a character, and I can’t wait to watch the movie Wolf Creek.(less)
When it comes to reading, on occasion, my mind will let the story completely consume me. With t...moreThis review was originally published to Bookish Ardour.
When it comes to reading, on occasion, my mind will let the story completely consume me. With the right story I am compelled to move faster, walk faster, drink faster, or in some cases I will completely stop eating in order for my brain to have a meltdown. When I have a reaction to stories like this, I believe my brain is trying to push my body faster to cope with the speed of which I’m absorbing the story.
I read the majority of All for Owen at the gym (I read when I’m on the treadmill or bike) of all places. Each time I forgot I was at the gym and found myself walking faster in order to keep up with my reading speed. I would end these gym sessions bewildered, bemused, and with a bleary-eyed stare, as my brain attempted to deal with the abrupt pull back into reality.
All for Owen grabbed my attention slowly, but hooked its claws into me by the quarter mark. I found my desire for fitness becoming secondary to why I wanted to go to the gym. I wanted to workout so I could read more and faster!
The concept of the story was absorbing and unexpected. I’ve read my fair share of dystopian stories and after reading the synopsis you have an expectation of what the story will contain. There should always be a spanner thrown into the works of your expectations though. Some stories will lack the spanner, unfortunately, but I don’t believe All for Owen is one of them.
History coming back to bite a civilisation in the arse is a commonality in dystopian stories, but I loved the way it was done in this case. The use of history and fear slowly unravelled to create tantalising ideas of what could come next.
Come the end of the story, I found myself rooting for characters, taken aback by surprises, being aghast at events befalling the characters, and having them etched clearly in my mind. The character reactions to events and to each other were very realistic and I found it very easy to imagine teens responding to such a world filled with such fear, hopelessness, and manipulation.
All for Owen doesn’t have a jarring cliffhanger, the one to make you want to respond by jumping up in agitation, which is preferable to me. Instead, the culmination of all the events in the story itself, coupled with the characters, got under my skin. This is what makes me want to continue with the story; the character growth, the care with which they’ve been created, and the world-building, rather than the story ending at a pivotal moment, is what feeds my curiosity.
I believe All for Owen is readable by teens and adults alike. While it is evident to me the story is geared towards an age demographic, nothing is dumbed down. The story may be easy to absorb, but it’s deeper meanings wrapped up in fast-paced entertainment.(less)
Evil and the Mask turned out to be one of those stories I was far from expecting. I was expecti...moreThis review was originally published to Bookish Ardour.
Evil and the Mask turned out to be one of those stories I was far from expecting. I was expecting a suspenseful atmosphere with in-depth, unsettling thrills to make you question humanity and the darkness inside us. Instead I was presented with idealistic theories of humanity’s deep-seated insecurities, laziness derived obedience, and selective ignorance.
I warmed up to the characters quite quickly and the idea of a family’s insane custom; to create a child to be a cancer in the world. When you first begin the story, it’s difficult not be swept away by the creepiness of Fumihiro’s father calling his son into his study and revealing the reason his son exists. The atmosphere is fantastic in that scene and I couldn’t help questioning the sheer audacity Fumihiro’s father had when it came to believing he could procreate expressly to cause havoc in the world.
What type of sick and twisted individual could believe such a thing? It’s arrogant, it’s conceited, and extremely narcissistic. The idea, the questions it creates, sets up the atmosphere and your expectations for the rest of the story.
I thoroughly enjoyed the beginning and reading about Fumihiro’s early life, as well as the foundations for how he will turn out as a character. I found myself wanting nothing bad to happen to either Fumihiro his adopted sister.
The story took a turn I wasn’t expecting. I don’t believe the protagonist ever really had to struggle with his inner darkness in the way the synopsis portrays, but there is definitely a struggle present. With the turn in the story it only amplifies the process we all go through of trying to understand ourselves.
Unfortunately I felt Evil and the Mask began to drag after the halfway mark. Each dialogue exchange began to sound like every other one and none of the characters gave an impression of differentiation when they spoke. You were able to look into Fumihiro’s head and read his ideas. These ideas and thoughts were echoed in dialogue and then again when another character shared their thoughts with Fumihiro.
By the end of Evil and the Mask I felt I was reading a platform for the author to share their speculations rather than creating questions via character and story. It’s a shame really. I was thoroughly looking forward to reading something to question morals, ethics, and human depravity. Unfortunately I’m not quite sure what the story ended up questioning and I don’t feel Fumihiro grew as a character.
Evil and the Mask is one of those stories where you’re not reading for the action, the emotion, or the pull, but more for ideas on human self-conditioning, self awareness, and finally self acceptance.(less)