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3.33  ·  Rating details ·  205 ratings  ·  40 reviews
‘Cynthia can understand how Anahera feels just by looking at her body.’

Cynthia is twenty-one, bored and desperately waiting for something big to happen. Her striking fitness instructor, Anahera, is ready to throw in the towel on her job and marriage. With stolen money and a dog in tow they run away and buy ‘Baby’, an old boat docked in the Bay of Islands, where Cynthia dre
219 pages
Published September 2017 by Victoria University Press (first published 2017)
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3.33  · 
Rating details
 ·  205 ratings  ·  40 reviews

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Mar 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When it comes to novels, Annaleese Jochems debut novel is a product of the age we live in. In the age of the internet and all the trapping of it with social media and the way, we as a society place more emphasis on the media than who we really are as people it is a perfect breeding ground for compulsive behavior and narcissism. Those personality traits can be used perfectly to describe 21-year-old Cynthia.

Unemployed and living at home with her father, Cynthia spends her time watching way too muc
Veronica ⭐️
Feb 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019
3.5 stars
I can’t say I loved this book but it certainly was compelling reading. It’s not a book to be loved; it’s a dark story of obsession, both possessive and self.
It takes place over a relatively short period of time. There is very little before in the telling.

Cynthia is a young woman of 21 but she looks and acts much younger. She runs away with Anahera, her fitness instructor.
Cynthia’s mind is chaotic, she flits from highs to lows and as the story is
Feb 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Annaleese Jochems’s award-winning debut novel, Baby starts off fairly ordinary, even a bit boring, and just a little strange. That needs a slightly strange protagonist, and Cynthia fits the bill: twenty-one going on thirteen, completely self-absorbed, with a massive crush on her gym instructor, Anahera. Cynthia suggests they run away together. That night, Anahera turns up, split from her husband, apparently seeking refuge. By the following morning, Cynthia has emptied her father’s bank acco
Jaclyn Crupi
Feb 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Oh, Baby! Jochems is New Zealand’s answer to July, Moshfegh and Kleeman. This weird book is dark and demented. Bored women getting up to all kinds of trouble. Evocative of Heavenly Creatures, it’s a pretty wild ride.
Oct 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Wow, what an amazing talent this young woman is. All of 23 years of age, there is both an urgency and energy to her writing way beyond her youth. Her insight into how social media, celebrity culture, the culture of 'me', and how the resultant obsession with self has manipulated her generation of young people is spectacular. The result is a monster of a young woman, the 21 year old Cynthia, whose life and existence is completely dominated by her dangerously self absorbed, meaningless and boring e ...more
Vincent Konrad
Dec 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
what a great book! I'm going to buy a copy so I can lend it to people
Apr 05, 2018 rated it did not like it
The only reason that I picked up this book was that it was shortlisted for the NZ book awards. I found the book so tedious, with a ridiculous plot, unconvincing characters and dialogue. It is the worst book I have read for years. There was no sense of place. It was a very boring book about self-absorbed people doing nothing apart from occasional nonsensical acts of violence. In fact it was so bad, I felt compelled to check the criteria for the book awards as I am really annoyed I wasted time rea ...more
Andi C Buchanan
I honest to god don't know if I loved or hated this one, and I suspect that's the genius of it.
Mar 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nz
3.5 stars.

Talk about taking millennial-hood to monstrous proportions. From being obsessed with self and social media, and reading too much into everything, the experience of being a young, aimless, inexperienced woman is magnified to such a scale that it becomes scary and unrecognisable. After a few days ruminating on this story, I’m still unsure how I feel about it. I can’t say I loved it. I found the story intense, weird, and disturbing, and felt the same way about the characters (especially o
Craig Sisterson
Mar 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Right, let's lay this out right at the start. This is a marmite book with a capital M. It's full of dislikable, even noxious characters. The main protagonist is a self-absorbed millennial who seems fairly divorced from reality while semi-obsessed with reality TV, an unreliable narrator who snaps to judgement of others while having her own house in disorder.

But despite all of that (and things that might annoy me in other books), for some reason, BABY just works for me. It's a heck of a read - in
Carolyn Mck
Jul 03, 2018 rated it liked it
This is a very good debut novel. Jochems writes cleverly for someone so young (she is 23) and shows her understanding of young people, especially those who move outside the mainstream. Her writing is spiky, unconventional and engaging.

The main character, Cynthia, is an aimless dropout obsessed by social media and reality TV - and by her fitness coach Anahera, with whom she runs away to the Bay of Islands and buys the boat ‘Baby’. The pair doesn’t attempt to sail the boat - instead they live a h
Tamsien West (Babbling Books)
Feb 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: new-zealand
I honestly don't know how to rate this book, it's somewhere between 3 or 3.5 or 4 stars depending on the way the wind blows. It's a strange book, that defies being put into a neat 'genre' box. It reminds me mostly of Convenience Store Woman, both having protagonists that see the world in a unique way and don't have a clear understanding of why people around them act the way they do (ie. in a way that appears to be normal to the reader).

There is also something interesting and enthralling about a
Ashley Lamont
Jul 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Strangely beautiful, beautifully strange. Compelling. I'm off to eat a jam sandwich now.
James Daly
Nov 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Baby's quick and sharp, it's also overt and blunt. It could be a butter-knife but it's also hot so people say it's more like a fire-iron, poking at you constantly. it's uncomfortable, anyone will tell you. I think it's more like a clothes iron, fresh out of the box, a pink handle and a pleasing aesthetic oh la la, but it burns the clothes and spits venom instead. When you're burnt by a fire-iron it hurts in one place, but reading Baby is like being ironed all over, the iron stalling in the more ...more
Vaughan Willis
Mar 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Fit, tan, tasty Anahera (gym instructor); young, not-so-fit, pasty Cynthia; Gordon (the German tourist, but really from Palmerston N); a 15-year-old graffiti-drawing kid who falls out of a tree and dies; Snot-face, Cynthia's slobbering bulldog, which she abandons; Baby, the cramped boat she and Anahera buy with money stolen from Cynthia's father, Ron… Two bad girls run away together and want to steal the "tourist's" money. The stringy blonde Cynthia is more into the taut and older Anahera than A ...more
Ro Weena
Sep 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book felt so fresh, unlike any book I’ve read. It has such a strong voice. I read this for my Bookclub via library ecopy but I want to buy it so I can reread bits again, and lend it out.

A disconcerting and compelling millennial thriller-black comedy about obsession. At times really unsettling with its claustrophobic atmosphere and disjointed ‘reality’, hard-to-like characters. Yet somehow it draws you in, you feel like you are right there watching it unfold, a virtual fly on the wall it’s s
Scribe Publications
Sultry, sinister, hilarious and demented, Baby blazes with intelligence and murderous black humour. Heavenly Creatures for a new generation.
Eleanor Catton, Author of Man Booker Prize-winning The Luminaries

Patricia Highsmith meets reality TV in this compelling debut. Jochems nudges up the tension until we can’t bear to look — and can’t bear to look away: thrilling, dangerous, and deliciously funny.
Catherine Chidgey, prize-winning author of The Wish Child and The Beat of the Pendulum

This funny, se
Feb 21, 2018 rated it did not like it
I read this book as the February pick for the Gouda Book Club, the book club my best friend Daphne and I started together.

I really hated this book. It was disturbing and surreal and uncomfortable, and I realise that that was the point, that I was supposed to be disturbed and uncomfortable, but I couldn't appreciate what it was trying to accomplish, because it was all so fucking nasty. I got the point; I just didn't like the point. This book made me feel dirty. It got under my skin, grimy and lo
Mar 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
BABY is the story of a self-absorbed, narcissistic pain of a woman who is judgemental, obsessed by minutia, unreliable, untrustworthy, unlikeable and unbelievably compelling.

Which is quite an achievement when you think about it. Partly it's because the book starts out intense and unnerving, and keeps ramping that up to the point where whatever is wrong with Cynthia is nothing compared to whatever "this" is all about. Partly it's because the style is surprisingly low-key, so what starts out as se
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
Baby is a dark and unnerving tale of Cynthia’s unhealthy obsession with her gym instructor Anahera and the claustrophobic life they lead on a boat, named ‘Baby’, after running away together when Anahera’s marriage breaks down. Both women are unlikeable and manipulative with the main protagonist Cynthia quite self-absorbed and with a penchant for reality TV which, together with her inner dialogue, demonstrates her limited grasp of her actual reality.

This was a difficult review for me to write as
Dec 16, 2017 rated it liked it
This is Jochems debut novel, it is the diary of a self absorbed, narcissist in her early twenties who lives in a world dominated by reality tv and her smartphone. The story is told by Cynthia the main character and highly unreliable narrator. One of the strengths of the novel is the way Jochems builds tension, gradually revealing the chasm between what Cynthia tells us and what is actually going on. It is an easy read but not a comfortable one. Great use of deadpan, irony and black humour. A por ...more
Oct 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Baby is truly nauseating and oozes from the seams. Even though I can appreciate that this is definitely a good book - I just could not enjoy it. It’s fascinating and kept me reading, but mostly because it’s manic plot line was intriguing and I definitely wouldn’t want to read it again.
None of the main characters were likeable - which added to the certainly intended discomfort but made the reading experience far from enjoyable.
All in all, Baby was meant to make me feel uncomfortable and it worked
Amber Hall
Nov 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can’t say I enjoyed reading this, as such, but I’m pretty sure that’s the point with this one; it’s meant to be uncomfortable. Baby felt like Single White Female had been remade with the cast of Lena Dunham’s Girls, and the writing style reminded me a lot of some of Chuck Palahniuk’s work.

It is wonderfully well written for a debut novel (and at just 21!? What have I even done with my life??), maintaining an impressive balance of tension, dark humour and cabin fever so palpable you can almost
Aug 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: aotearoa
I nearly didn't read this, mostly because I read too many of the milllennial bashing interviews of other Goodreaders. Silly me. Because this novel is very good. And often funny (in a black humour kind of way). And yes Cynthia is annoying (and then more) but to blame it on her being a millennial is disingenuous. I am a gen xer and we were the original slacker generation. We weren't addicted to social media and reality TV but only because social media hasn't been invented yet and reality TV wasn't ...more
Oct 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Most outstanding use of the word "plonked" ever. Holy shit.

Really engrossing and intriguing. Lots of great moments and the awful slow-mo-car-crash-ness of certain sequences is not *that* awful.

I'm also finding it more and more of a pleasure to have incidental stuff about locations etc. be places and things I know. Binge-eating Tim-Tams. Driving from Auckland to Paihia. Basic stuff, but enjoyable.

I did find the narrator / main character pretty unbelievably OTT, which I guess is the point - but I
Aug 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
The author shows talent that will develop with maturity. I waited for something to tie together the events of the book. I wasn’t attached to any of the characters and felt they were disconnected from themselves and each other as well. However I am of the newly coined ‘Xennial’ generation (previously Gen X) so maybe I just can’t relate to the millennials; perhaps they have nothing to tie together in the first place and won’t grow out of it. Let’s hope not.
🌈💜SAVINA🦋✨ Tsataros
This is the first book I've dnf'd. I was just bored ! So so bored, from what I've gathered this book follows the lives of uninterested unlikable self obsessed people that use others to make ends meet. There's a little more that goes on but honestly I couldn't care less. The writing isn't bad and I think if you're interested in the premise you should pick it up and give it a shot. I really wanted to like this one but unfortunately I just can't force myself to pick it up anymore.
Oct 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Weirdly entertaining. Life of the millennials exaggerated to proportions not completely unattainable. It is very weird but never a dull moment. Moved at a beautiful pace that you don’t want to put it down.
May 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is quietly disturbing. It reminded me of I Love Dick and similar explorations of unhinged love, but does so with a distinctly NZ feel in a way that I'm struggling to put words to. A very strong debut from Jochems - I look forward to her future work.
Oct 02, 2018 rated it it was ok
Very strange book
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