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The Wonders

3.10  ·  Rating details ·  280 ratings  ·  53 reviews
What happens when three ordinary people undergo radical medical treatments that make them international curiosities? They become wonders.

Leon has a small visible mechanical heart; Kathryn has been cured of a rare genetic disorder but is now covered in curly black wool; while performance artist Christos has metal wings implanted into his back. Brought together by a canny en
Paperback, 288 pages
Published February 10th 2015 by Washington Square Press (first published July 30th 2014)
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Average rating 3.10  · 
Rating details
 ·  280 ratings  ·  53 reviews

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Dec 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The Wonders is about a "freak show". But then again, it isn't. While the traditional freak show offered human abnormalities of nature, the three protagonists that make up the touring attraction in Paddy O'Reilly's sensitive and thoughtful novel became what they are later in their life and through three different medical circumstances. Kathryn is cured of Huntington by a unique treatment that leaves her covered in black wool. Christos is a performance artist who has wings transplanted into his ba ...more
Sep 15, 2014 rated it did not like it
A book with no heart, that never took wings, and a very woolly storyline.

Unfortunately you would have had to have read the book to get the allusions. It is a Wonder that I finished it.
Michael Livingston
Aug 22, 2014 rated it liked it
I was left a bit disappointed by this, having gone in with high hopes. The idea is clever and there are thought provoking bits on identity, family, fame and values, but the whole thing never really took flight for me. The characters were flat and their interactions not particularly convincing (particularly the relationship between Leon and Minh), and the plot was unevenly paced. The writing is readable and clear, with some neat descriptive flashes. I like the O'Reilly is trying to tackle some bi ...more
Dec 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 4stars
The Wonders is a book that can be deceptive in its depth. On the surface, it's the story of The Wonders, a group of three extraordinary people and their rise to fame. Leon has a hole in his chest through which can be viewed his mechanical heart. Kathryn is covered in black wool as a side effect of her treatment for Huntington's disease. Christos is a performance artist and has made himself into art by implanting giant metal wings onto his back. Rhona is the American entrepreneur with a history i ...more
Jul 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: c21st, 14review, australia
I am a big fan of Paddy O’Reilly’s writing, and so I had been waiting impatiently for The Wonders, her third novel. I read it over the weekend between sessions at the Bendigo Writers’ Festival and I am not at all surprised that it is already racing up the bestseller lists at indie bookshops.

If you read my thoughts about Angela Meyer’s anthology The Great Unknown you may recall that Paddy had a story called ‘Reality TV’ in that collection. Little did I realise when I noted that the story skewers
The word 'circus' has many uses in today's English: aside from the regular, traditional circus, featuring clowns and elephants, there is also the (arguably) metaphorical circus of the media, or politics. Coupled with the concept of a circus as a performance for the sake of entertainment, is entangled the concept of a feeding frenzy, a loud, seemingly chaotic ambush of a multitude of gazes. The freak shows of the 19th century may have officially ended, but our rapt attention to 'reality TV' shows ...more
Sep 07, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: spec-fiction
I failed to connect with this one. I'm not sure why because the premise is intriguing. Perhaps it wasn't exciting enough: there are a few happenings, but no sense of rising tension. Or maybe it's just me. ...more
2.5. For once in my life I agree with Marieke Hardy -- this just wasn't all that good. The premise was OK -- there are three people who are some form of "wonder", and they're exploited/convinced/maybe agree to become celebrities, but it went no deeper than that. The transition to celebrity was glossed over; the effects of celebrity were discussed, but with little reflection. The plot meandered, the actions of the characters reactive to external stimuli; there was no sense of building to a climax ...more
Ann Graham
Nov 24, 2014 rated it it was ok
Story of three physical and psychological misfits living and working together in a "circus". I couldn't really get into this story as I didn't relate to the characters - couldn't form a picture of what they looked like or why they acted as they did. ...more
Sep 20, 2014 rated it did not like it
I gave up after 100 pages so couldn't give an honest review. Not my kind of book. Will look forward to Tuesday Night Bookclub in ABC to see what they thought. ...more
Jul 06, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"We're not animals," Leon said.
"We're all animals."

I really liked this book. It's one of those ones were I don't have an overwhelming surge of love for it, but I didn't dislike it. This one just leaves me with an overall positive view, and that's fine. The synopsis sounded cool to me, and I really like reading work by Australian authors.

I appreciated how much it went into the medical side of their oddities, and how real it felt when portraying how people build fame. I did think that the plot th
Anna K. Amendolare
Nov 04, 2018 rated it liked it
I liked it, well enough. Not sure how I felt about the protagonist; I didn't dislike him, but I never warmed up to him, never really sympathized with him at all. I thought it was an interesting premise, and certainly enlighting: the rise to fame, what it does to a normal person, craving adulation, the dangers, and the fall from fame, all the while trying to get along with people. Worth reading. ...more
Nov 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Interesting, but fell short of depth. This a story of three humans that have been altered enough to perform for audiences as a kind of updated sideshow attraction. While it moves toward introspection, it never really quite gets there.
Mar 06, 2019 rated it liked it
I felt like I was waiting through the whole story for something to actually happen and just did and it was over. Didn't find any of the characters particularly charming and the story line was just kind of lacking. ...more
Sarah S
Apr 28, 2019 rated it did not like it
An interesting premise but it failed to captivate. It lacked intrigue and I didn't like any of the characters. I expected the characters to grow and develop through the story, none of their actions demonstrated this. This story feels strained. This book leaves me disappointed. ...more
Dec 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Rebecca by: Adrienne
Hands down the most curious and bizarre book I've ever read - I really enjoyed it. ...more
Jul 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really like the concept of the book and I enjoyed reading it but felt a little disappointed with the ending
Aug 14, 2018 rated it did not like it

I gave up about two thirds into the book. Not very enjoyable.
Feb 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: readers who enjoy whimsical fiction
Recommended to Ekta by: NetGalley
A man suffers from heart failure and becomes a celebrity after a life-changing surgery turns him into a human anomaly. He joins two other people in similar situations, and the three of them form the latest international sensation. They experience the ups and downs of public life together and learn to navigate the emotional challenges that come with that life. Paddy O’Reilly gives readers this premise in the touching but sometimes ambivalent novel The Wonders.

Leon Hyland’s heart has failed, and h
Mel Campbell
I didn't know much about this book before I started reading, but given I think of Paddy O'Reilly as a 'literary' author, I was most struck by the unsentimental directness and modernity of her prose. Jane Sullivan's Little People is also about the fraught relationships within a sideshow troupe, but aesthetically is much more traditional.

By contrast, I'd compare this to Max Barry's technocratic transhumanism: it's the same kind of bleak satire of corporate and media culture. O'Reilly's prose i
Jemimah Brewster
Oct 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
You can also read this review on my blog at:

*this review contains spoilers!*

This is a wonderful book, and I’m not even saying that as a pun: it really is wonderful. O’Reilly’s work explores the notion of being a ‘freak’, a celebrity and a human being. Her characters are vivid, flawed and relatable, their hopes, relationships and lives fragile and fascinating.

After being implanted with an illegal and experimental mechanical heart, Leon is approached by Rho
Feb 07, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: blog-review
Curious idea, isn't it? A work of fiction that addresses what it is to be a celebrity, the definition of what it is to be disabled and the price of human life...I thought so too.

When I finished this book, I was confused. Is this a book about the price of being a celebrity? Is it about the meaning of disability? Is it about the varying degrees human exploitation? Or is it a love story? The answer is yes...this book is all of the above.

What began as a fictitious novel about three individuals with
Nicole Overmoyer
It's hard to be much more than... indifferent about Paddy O'Reilly's "The Wonders: A Novel."

There are things that work, and work fairly well, but there are more things that don't really work. There's just enough to make you want to see the story through to the end but... there's every chance you'll get to the end and be unsatisfied. But you'll still be glad you read it. It's not a book you'll regret reading but it's not a book you'll badger everyone you meet into reading.

The plot mostly centers
When Leon gets a mechanical heart – his third heart after his biological heart and a donor heart fail – he has no idea of what lies in store. When he is recruited by a canny entrepreneur, he finds himself a living wonder, where freedom, attention and love are given and taken in the most unusual ways.

This was a really interesting book, looking at the ways technology might be used in the most extreme medical and cosmetic circumstances. Leon’s mechanical heart keeps him alive, but makes him an obje
Sep 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Can someone please call Tim Burton? I found his next project.

The Wonders by Paddy O'Reilly is dark, quirky, slightly humorous, and deeply provoking. Leon has a metal heart. Without it, he would die. Kathryn is cured of Huntington's disease, only to sprout thick black wool all over her body. Christos, artist extraordinaire, takes his art to a whole new level by implanting large metal wings onto his back. Discovered by Rhona, the trio become internationally known as The Wonders. They each create
May 06, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: recent-reads
The premise of this book is promising: three medical anomalies are being promoted as Uberhumans. Their promoter, a vibrant American woman, brings all three wonders to her private compound where she will prepare them for their life in the public eye. Leon, who has a metal heart, is the main point of view in the book. I think his story is interesting, but nothing much happens in the way of plot. With any of the characters. Christos is a performance artist that has attached wings surgically to his ...more
Sep 11, 2014 rated it liked it
One thing humans have failed to evolve past is the desire to gawp at people who are radically different from the norm. Dwarves used to belong to royal courts. Circus freaks travelled around the world. Leon Hyland spent a year in hiding to keep his difference a secret from the people around him. When he gets a call from Rhona Burke and hears her offer to join what is essentially a new-style freak show, Leon's instincts tell him to run. Only her promises that he can back out at any time keep Leon ...more
Feb 05, 2016 rated it liked it
I thought this book was good. There were some interesting questions about celebrity, fame, identity, friendship, and what is "normal." I think the book had some great commentary about people's desire to know and be known. We embrace celebrity culture and tell ourselves that we know about the "real" lives of these people we watch, but I think it reveals a deeper desire to believe that if *they* are worth noticing, then maybe we are, too. There were some issues with the end -- too many plots going ...more
Star Ryan
Jul 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
the Wonders is one of the most underrated books I have ever read! I didnt initially think I would enjoy it based on the cover and plot summary

. However I was pleasantly surprised and thoroughly enjoyed rhis story. There are many parallels to the human experience that can be found in unexpected ways in extraordinarily unique characters. Definitely humor, suspense and intrigue as well as unfortunate heart wrenching sorrow.

This book is the perfect example to me of "You can't judge a book by its co
I'd hoped this would be kind of like Katherine Dunn's incredible Geek Love. Nope. While The Wonders offers some interesting commentary on how our culture deals with celebrity, and is easy enough to read, these characters and their "oddities" are just not quite odd enough. And I never really connected much with any of them. And hasn't the whole "the price of fame is loneliness and isolation" thing already been done to death? AND I swear the ending is like hearing an echo of Dorothy telling Toto t ...more
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Paddy O'Reilly is a writer from Victoria, Australia. Her work has been published and broadcast widely both in Australia and internationally.

Paddy's short story collection, The End of the World (University of Queensland Press) was released to critical acclaim in April, 2007. The stories in the collection have won a number of national and international story awards including 'The Age', the 'Judah Wa

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