I should have written this review a couple of weeks ago when I finished the book, but I got sidetracked by zombies again. Anyhoo … Are You Watching MeI should have written this review a couple of weeks ago when I finished the book, but I got sidetracked by zombies again. Anyhoo … Are You Watching Me? by Sinéad Crowley was Book 6 of my 52 Library Books reading challenge. It’s the story of a young woman, Liz, who has a past she’d rather forget and who reluctantly becomes the face of the charity she helps run. Soon, she finds herself the object of a fanatics affection and the centre of a murder investigation. It’s also the story of a less young woman, a police sergeant called Claire, who has just returned to work after maternity leave and finds juggling a baby, a husband and a case more difficult than she thought it would be.
I quite enjoyed this book, but I think I’d have to shelve it under ‘OK’. It’s well-paced with plenty of tension, so it kept me turning the pages, but I found both of the main characters a bit too angsty and a bit too cliche for my liking – Liz especially suffers from the Too Dumb To Live trope. I also guessed the twist fairly early on which damped the ending a bit. The general consensus on Goodreads is that Sinéad Crowley’s first book is better, so I’ll probably give that a go as this one was almost my cup of tea....more
I think this story might have been where it started: my love of all tales apocalyptic. As a kid, I remember watching both the 1962 movie (Not in 1962I think this story might have been where it started: my love of all tales apocalyptic. As a kid, I remember watching both the 1962 movie (Not in 1962 I hasten to add!) and the 1980s TV series. I was totally gripped by both, but until a couple of weeks ago, I'd never actually read the book. Shameful!
So, it goes like this: there's a dazzling 'meteor shower'; almost the whole world goes blind as a result; society collapses; carnivorous plants literally stalk the land; plagues spread like the plague, and a handful of survivors have to ... well ... survive.
I love this book for so many reasons. It's very much of its time. It was written in 1951, and you can feel the Cold War breathing down your neck as you read. The changing gender roles of the period are also discussed - overtly and covertly. The narrative voice is very 1950s British; it put me in mind of Ian Flemming's James Bond books. But what I really love is the whole 'Do the ends justify the means?' choices the characters have to make, because, for me, that's what apocalyptic stories are about. They're about maintaining our humanity (the good parts at any rate) in the face of extreme adversity. When the rules and norms of society are stripped away, what do we become? Who do we protect? Who do we save? How do we decide who is 'them' and who is 'us'? And should we? And then of course there are the titular Triffids, which are basically plant zombies. Attracted by sound, they trudge relentlessly toward their blind victims, dispatching them with their venomous stingers and then waiting for their bodies to decompose so they can digest them. You could write a whole PhD thesis on the symbolism of triffids/zombies (In the 1950s they pretty much represented the Soviet Union.), and I'm sure someone has, but when I read about them the one thought that goes through my mind over and over again is that, today, triffids/zombies = consumerism. As a race, we're mindlessly chomping our way through this planet's resources (and people), and most of the world seems blind to it.
Fans of The Walking Dead might enjoy this book - there is a lot (and I mean a lot) of similarity between the plots, but that's not a bad thing; 1950s Britain and 2010s USA are very different places, the people who inhabit them, however, are not ...
"Zombies are all the things that will not lie down and die, the truth we cannot repress, the thing that will rise up until it overwhelms us all. Whatever you want to forget is stumbling, dead-eyed and open-mouthed towards you." Naomi Alderman...more
I borrowed this from the library as I wanted a 'quick read' and I've enjoyed Sophie Hannah's poetry in the past. The book was certainly quick to readI borrowed this from the library as I wanted a 'quick read' and I've enjoyed Sophie Hannah's poetry in the past. The book was certainly quick to read as it took me about an hour to finish, but it felt unsubstantial. I read a lot of short stories, so I know you don't have to compromise character for a low word count, but that's what I feel happened here. I felt I was skimming along the surface of everyone's lives and psyches. On the flip side, there was plenty of suspense which kept me reading to the end, but the introduction of Simon and Charlotte felt forced; the twist at the end didn't satisfy, and I couldn't muster much sympathy for any of the characters - I still can't help thinking that the unpleasant best friend, Lorna, was completely right about both Tom and Chloe!...more
**spoiler alert** As with all good zombie stories this isn't about zombies; it's about surviving whilst retaining some shred of humanity - unless you'**spoiler alert** As with all good zombie stories this isn't about zombies; it's about surviving whilst retaining some shred of humanity - unless you're a vampire and then it's just about surviving.
I enjoyed all four stories, but my favourite was The Extinction Parade - of course, vampires would be worried about losing their food source to the zombie hordes! Great Wall was quite the heartbreaker and Closure, Limited offered an intriguing scenario. I found Steve and Fred engaging, and I can't help wondering if the zombies outside his toilet cubicle were all in his imagination ... People start to look a bit zombie-ish to me after I've binge-watched The Walking Dead!!!...more
Beautifully written: graceful and flowing. A touching yet somewhat unsettling collection of short stories revolving around the themes of communicationBeautifully written: graceful and flowing. A touching yet somewhat unsettling collection of short stories revolving around the themes of communication (or a lack thereof) and isolation. These stories don't spoon feed the reader - some don't have a sense of denouement, but that suits the characters and situations about which they were written....more
I struggled with the first part/essay/story of this book: The Sin of Height. On first read, it seems to be a rather muddled essay on the history of hoI struggled with the first part/essay/story of this book: The Sin of Height. On first read, it seems to be a rather muddled essay on the history of hot air ballooning. The second part (On the Level) made more sense to me as it's a piece of historical fiction about the romance of two people whose ballooning exploits are detailed in the first section. The third part (The Loss of Depth) made the first two sections make much more sense. It's another essay ... a memoir ... about the author's grief at the death of his wife. Although he says that 'one grief throws no light upon another' I think that's exactly what the third section does because as I was reading I kept thinking about my own grief ... not comparing experiences as such, but relating. I'm going to put this book on my shelf for now, but I will read it again because now I've read the third part, I feel the first two have more to offer. ...more