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The Guard

3.15  ·  Rating details ·  525 ratings  ·  69 reviews
Winner of the European Union Literature Prize, Peter Terrin's The Guard is a haunting novel of perceived oppression by the an omnipresent, but unknown, authority.

In the near future, Harry and Michel live in the basement of a luxury apartment block, guarding the inhabitants. No one goes outside. The world might be at war, it might even have been plunged into nuclear winter
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published January 6th 2015 by MacLehose Press (first published August 8th 2009)
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3.15  · 
Rating details
 ·  525 ratings  ·  69 reviews

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Jan 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
If you are looking for a nice plot driven novel or one with rich characterization then this is not the book for you. Ostensibly it is the story of two security guards in an exclusive apartment complex who are isolated from the outside world. However it is ambiguous enough for the reader to fill in their own story. Although that may be frustrating to some readers, I rather liked that aspect.
Chad Post
Apr 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read a sample of this probably two, two-and-a-half years ago, and have been waiting for the English translation to be completed ever since. It's a very strange book set in some country at some unspecified future date, and is narrated by a guard for an unspecified company who, along with his colleague, are protecting the basement of a (nearly) abandoned luxury apartment building.

It's nearly abandoned because approximately 18 months before the start of the novel, all but one resident--along wit
Jan 29, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The Guard by Peter Terrin is translated from the dutch by David Colmer centerting on two security guards, Harry and Michel, who are stationed in a high security apartment building offering hotel-like services to the wealth and the elite. One day the residents, seemingly all but one, leave almost en masse leaving Harry and Michel to their lonely posts. I knew nothing about this novel going in but its jacket flap hinted at something a bit post-apocalyptic so I decided to give it a shot. The story ...more
Paul M
Feb 01, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not much happens in the very dull life of two guards stuck in the basement of a high-end residential block. The reader is as much in the dark as the guards as to what is happening in the world beyond the basement. You find yourself clutching at any piece of information that might shed some light on what is going on in the world outside. Terrin manages to create an incredibly claustrophobic atmosphere and I felt as trapped as the guards. Although the author builds the atmosphere very well, I felt ...more
Gary Love
Apr 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
May 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
Post-apocalyptic story of two guards in a parking garage. From boring for the first 100 pages to horrific after that, I can't recommend this book.
Sep 03, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews
The Guard by Peter Terrin – translated from the Dutch by David Colmer - is for me a great example of a marmite book! You’ll either love it or hate it. I’m caught somewhere in the middle and having just finished it I’m still not certain how I feel about it, more on that later. One thing you certainly can’t take away from the book – actually two – the narrative is intense and beautifully written and the author shows a great deal of promise, not that he needs me to confirm this of course!

Told in it
Aug 26, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary
Harry and Michel are the only two guards in a luxury apartment block. The never leave the basement and their number one priority is keeping the residents safe. Who knows what dangers lurk outside the apartment rules. They spend their days on a strict routine, sleeping in shifts and eking out their rations, awaiting the day a third guard joins. But one day the residents leave on mass. What do they do without any word from the organisation?

In part, The Guard is a brilliant study of the effects of
Laine Cunningham
This is a fantastic book that looks into many areas of the human mind at the same time. Written in spare prose that reflects both the setting and the lack of information the guards have about the outside world, the novel is truly a literary and storytelling triumph.

I received a copy from the publisher so that I could write a review of the translation, and was riveted by the work. I haven't heard about this author before but the concept was interesting. While I expected a dystopian style read, wh
Dec 09, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: apocalyptic, fiction
I spotted this book looking new and unread on the library shelf. When the blurb informed me that it was a dystopian fable, how could I resist? I should add that I read a translation from the Dutch by David Colmer, but goodreads did not seem to have the edition listed.

'The Guard' shares a name with an extremely funny film starring Brendan Gleeson but, although it has moments of amusement, the novel is mostly unsettling and creepy. It centres around Michel and Harry, two security guards seemingly
Nov 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Guard is a book that I personally enjoyed from beginning to end, the first time I saw it it catches me just by its cover since is interesting and leaves you with some doubt of the meaning of the cover. Once I started reading it I could understand every page and every chapter, and I could say that it's distribution is not the best but very easy to follow.

The story seems very simple at the start, two guard looking after a building with residents. But it becomes a very interesting and leaves y
I picked this book up because it was on a recent science fiction list.

Like many other reviewers, I'm not sure what happened. Was Harry never there? Was he there and met his demise? Was there truly one resident left in the building? What the heck happened with Claudia and Michel and Mr Otokos suit after the bath? So many questions.

Six resupplies and they never checked out the lobby kitchen for food or towels? Furthermore, never looked out a window from above to survey damage?

But I truly loved t
Morgane Zephyr
Dec 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Plain genious - if you gather enough patience to read it all.
The way you get sucked in the deafening solitude and gelatine thick darkness in which the main character spends his life, is absolutely brilliant. In some moments you might want to skip some parts that are constantly repeating, elements that you've already read, their counting of the gear or the procedure of every possible action in their everyday routine - but don't skip it. Try and focus and experience the repetitive dullness of thei
Sep 26, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2013
This is one of the strangest books I have read in a while.

It concerns two guards in an exclusive apartment block who see almost all the residents leave. They are sure that there is one left, but not certain. They continue their routines, of patrolling the basement, and stock checking whilst still not know what is happening outside. They have supplies delivered erratically, and.later in the book are joined by a third guard who disturbs the status quo.

The author (and translator) manage to build th
Read Ng
Jun 12, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: post-apocalypse
For me, I think it lost just a little something in the translation from Dutch.

As you read this, you are pretty much in the same state of ignorance of the world around you as the main character. From chapter to chapter, you both have this sense of simple existence as you try to focus on your duties. The short paragraphs increase your sense of lost time. Does it take place over weeks or months or even years?

Too much of the story was just a bit too confusing for me. I did not care that much for it
Jul 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
For a book where very little happens i found this story captivating. The psychological battles and paranoia of the guards along with the complete lack of knowledge of what is going on outside gives a kind of Plato's cave feel and the characters delusionally keeping to their duties is reminiscent of Willie Loman and his family. It can be tough to follow as the author throws in the odd chapter that isn't always about the two main characters and can get a tad surreal at times. Altogether an enjoyab ...more
Paul Criscuolo
May 31, 2015 rated it it was ok
Thought it moved too slowly and lacked an appealing character. The guards seem rather stiff and low dimensional. Since I'm not a millennial, I don't fear the "collapse of the world" theory based on some environmental catastrophe caused by humankind. Cognac McCarthy did a much better rendition with "The Road". The plot also hints at the military not being paid but not sure where the author was taking that. So at the end of the book, I was just happy it was over.
Emily Daniel
I was really intrigued by the summary of this book and requested my library get a copy of it.

I was very disappointed when I finally got to read it. I'm not sure if it was the translation or just the story itself, but I couldn't connect with the story or the characters in the book.

There wasn't really any world building, and we never really find out what is happening in the world of why the guards are there in the first place.
Mar 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's Beckettsian, it's Godoty. Two guards guard the basement of a luxury apartment building, and one day every resident of the building leaves, for an unknown reason, and the guards are alone. Except for one resident who may have stayed behind, on the 29th floor. The guards wait for relief, hope for promotion, receive no information. It's a dreamy and macabre and claustrophobic novel, and it's great fun.
Jennifer Davies
Jan 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Danish book. It has very short chapters meaning that you think i'll just read one more etc. I certainly got a sense of paranoia from the two security guards who don't know what is going on in the outside world. I won't lie I didn't fully understand what was happening, but neither did the two security guard characters so I'm not convinced I was supposed to know what was going on. It gave me a chance to use my imagination.
Trash Panzer
You know when you start a new book, and the first 1/5 of it has you thinking: "I don't know about this book. This is weird, and not in a way I'm sure I like. Is this worth continuing, or should I put it down now and pick up something else instead?" And then the rest of the book is actually okay, and you settle into it? This book is like that, except those feelings happen in reverse order. There were things ABOUT it I enjoyed, but in the end I did not like it as a cohesive whole.
Feb 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have mixed feelings about this book.

It was very well written, very engaging, suspenseful, I honestly didn't know where it was going, how it was going to end up. A very interesting character study in solitude and not knowing.

I also didn't know what happened some of the time. I found certain things to be unclear. Perhaps it was intentionally written that way, but I didn't like it as much.

Overall though, very good book.
Mar 07, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: hated-it
If this is representative of a post-apocalyptic future, just seems like more of the current same to me. Intolerance, pettiness, racism, paranoia, delusional beliefs and behaviors.

What was done to the lone character of color was intolerable.

I really didn't get the satire.

I hate (that's active, and bred of) this read.
Feb 13, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting concept-but you are unsure at some point (through the end) what is real, what is a dream, or what is paranoia. The book is basically a slice of life of one of those things-but you have no idea what and you never find out.
Rodrigo Sanesc

I was expecting more of the story regarding the relationship between the two protagonist or some good explanation to all the mystery and that didn't happened.
Jim Hunter
Jan 22, 2015 rated it did not like it
I read this fast to try to find some answers but it left me only with questions.
Macabre and not one I would recommend to many. But, I enjoyed it because it was a bit different.
Štěpán Benyovszký
Jul 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Highly artistic, somewhat experimental, a touch disappointing at the very end.

Definitely worth reading, but will prove tricky to average bestseller browsers.
Martin Willoughby
If you like literary fiction and character studies, you'll like this.
Apr 07, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story made me feel claustrophobic.
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“En la ciudad no queda nadie, excepto un zumbado en una bici vieja y dos vigilantes en un sótano. Harry se ha equivocado.” 0 likes
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