There are success stories – and there are true stories
How would you feel if everything in your life suddenly started to go . . . right? Six months ago, Alex Moore was stuck in a dead-end job, feeling her potential quietly slip away. Then, seemingly overnight, she launched her dream start-up and became one of London's fastest rising tech stars. At thirty-one, her life has just begun. But Alex’s transformation isn’t easy for those around her. Her friends are struggling to accept her rapid success, her parents worry she’s burning out and her fiancé is getting cold feet.
Then weird things start to happen. Muggings, stalkers – even a wild claim that she murdered a stranger. But when Alex visits the Orkney Islands to recharge, weird turns into WTF. Because there she discovers the world’s oldest secret – and it’s a secret that Alex’s stratospheric rise has royally messed up.
Full of heart and humour, this is a very modern adventure with a most unexpected twist.
This is a startlingly original and emotive debut from Molly Flatt that is beautifully written and highly imaginative, although it does require a huge suspension of disbelief. 31 year old Dorothy Alex Moore's life used to be humdrum, frustrating and heading absolutely on the road to nowhere. Having dropped Dorothy, she is now Alex, and everything is now different as she is now living the fairytale life. She launched a tech start up business which out of the blue is an unbelievable success. She is popular, admired and much sought after, everything should be perfect, but there are a few niggles. Her family and personal circle of friends struggle and can't quite keep up with all the changes in her circumstances, and her fiance is visibly stepping away from her.
Things become downright weird as Alex encounters the oddest of journalists, is stalked, mugged and there is even a claim that she is a murderer. As Alex's life begins to slip out of her control, she finds herself accepting an invitation to visit the Orkney Islands. At which point Alex steps into a truly fantastical bizarre old world, as she leaves behind any semblance of the world as she knows it. Alex is to find all her narcissistic assumptions that she is solely responsible for her stratospheric success are a million miles away from the truth. This is a magical story where anything is possible, and which focuses on the issues of our memories, technology and the narratives that build and define our identities.
This is a wonderful novel, but it is far from perfect, it is a challenging read that demands patience, this might put off many readers who might not be willing to persevere. There are times where the narrative feels distinctly uneven as the storyline has a tendency to meander and the ending is rather overladen with its numerous reveals. However, I loved the narrative and the way it showcases so much promise in the writing of Molly Flatt. If you are looking for something different from the usual run of mill books, then I highly recommend The Charmed Life of Alex Moore. I have no doubts that Molly Flatt is a talented writer and I look forward to what she comes up with next. A brilliant read. Many thanks to Pan MacMillan for an ARC.
On rereading my review today, I realise I didn't highlight any of this book's positive points in case any of you out there are interested in reading it. Here they are: The concept had potential and was certainly interesting and unique, but it wasn't executed in a manner that did it justice. The idea and the story intrigued me enough that I did keep reading to completion, but ultimately it left me disappointed. And there is some good writing here, but it is my honest opinion that the novel as a whole was too busy, borderline overly ambitious and quite complex. That being said, if you enjoy long books and stories that sit in the science fiction genre, you may enjoy The Charmed Life of Alex Moore.
This book was a complete chore to get through, sadly.
Alex Moore is one of London's fastest rising stars, having just launched her dream start-up. While riding high on her success, she encounters a fake BBC reporter who seems to kick off a stream of strange occurrences. She is mugged, stalked and is accused of murder. Sounds random, eh? That's because it kind of is.
My issues with this debut novel are in abundance: The story is rambling and feels disjointed; the plot is complex and overly ambitious; the book is entirely too long and in its vast size seems indulgent; Alex is an unlikeable, narcissistic character and I couldn't relate to her; the Orkney storyline and sudden jump into the genre of science fiction (which I tend to love) feels unnatural and unbelievable; and I just could not get a feel for the flow of the book.
I persevered with this novel but was ultimately left disappointed. Not for me, unfortunately.
This is the first time I've ever really struggled to write a review and I'm hoping just the act of typing will encourage my brain to make sense of this book and summarise it somewhat coherently.
It's starts with our protagonist Alex Moore who has risen to the top of the career ladder, seemingly overnight with a tech start up. It has an air of the 'twenty-something-hipster-millenial' about it and the first third of the book tracks Alex's new found 'get up and go' in life and in business. Things quickly begin to get weird and a series of nonsensical events play out that Alex seems to dismiss as a bout of bad luck. However we then stray in to the SciFi realm and everything we've understood to be true comes in to question.
It's a brave novel that takes ordinary fiction in an entirely new direction. It asks the reader who is on a fictional but 'normal life' journey to imagine something new. It's fantastic and I didn't see it coming. I'm a huge fan of Doctor Who but don't consider myself a SciFi reader or fan at all.
I think there are underlying themes of identity, who you really are and the ability to reinvent yourself. It makes us question who are we and which versions of ourselves do we allow people to see. There are authorship and readership themes alongside this, about reading yourself and others but also allowing an almost voyeuristic perspective in to our lives. It forces you to pause and think about your own key themes in your life and what's important.
This book is truly special and leaves you with a funny tingly sensation in your tummy that only really occurs when something unequivocally extraordinary has occurred.
If you're looking for something a little different - I highly recommend.
In this age of personal empowerment, the only one who can write your story, you’re told, is you. Yet postmodern life never feels so clear and simple. You don a brave mask against a bewildering world, construct an online persona that resembles you but is always much happier, and more beautiful, than you ever feel inside. Who is your professional self, really? Your public self? Your family self? Are they any less real than the private you, if you even know who that is any more? Somehow you’re never the hero of your own tale. Some other hand is always writing you.
Take Alex Moore. Until a few months ago, she was just another broken nobody, all her early promise abandoned for a drudge job at a boring firm, with a nice boyfriend, and a nice life, in which nothing ever happened. Then one day, lightening struck and she was transformed into just the kind of self-promoting, self-inventing entrepreneur beloved of the burgeoning London tech scene. Today, she’s riding high, CEO of fêted startup Eudemonia. So why, whenever she tries to think about her transformation, does she want to empty her guts onto the floor? How to explain the aching gap at the heart of her?
Molly Flatt’s The Charmed Life of Alex Moore begins as a sharp, observant portrait of a woman riding the wave of digital-age stardom. But as weird, sometimes violent events start to challenge Alex’s perfect existence, her shaky certainties are blown apart. As she learns the true reasons for the rupture in her personal narrative, the novel, too, transforms, broadening into something with far more range and scope than a comedy of Shoreditch manners. Something more fantastical. To find answers, this privileged millennial must travel to a forgotten Orknean island, where she encounters a more rooted way of life, in a community committed to preserving an ancient source of power known as The Library.
Along with Alex, the reader is expertly drawn into a tale of adventure, centred around this oddball island community that’s somehow responsibility for the life course of every human being on the planet. To prevent calamity, she’ll need to face up to everything she’s been refusing to confront about her own past, and an unspoken pain at the heart of her family. Along the way Flatt extracts some delicious satire from Alex’s attempts to rationalise the workings of the mystical Library, using the limited set of reference points provided to her by London’s hipster tech scene.
This is a dynamic, beautifully written debut that moves effortlessly between ultra-contemporary London, the wilds of a remote Scottish island, and a fantastic reality that underpins them both. Equal parts romance, adventure, satire and fantasy, it’s a book that defies easy categorisation and is all the better for it. It deserves a success that’s every bit as rapid as Alex Moore’s, but far more enduring.
I don't normally write reviews but I felt I had something to say on finishing this book. I did struggle a little to get into the book as the main character, Alex, isn't especially likable but this turns out to be pretty central to the plot and is worth moving past. The book takes a turn and the fantasy aspect appears soon enough to save the set up from getting tedious.
I really love the central concept of the book around consciousness and how patterns of behaviour are formed and consolidated over time. I think there was so much promise in this book which initially is about a strong, successful woman, running her own business and changing her life dramatically. Unfortunately where the book ends up is it being all about the men in her life and romantic involvement. The message kind of ends up being- as a successful woman she was a self-centred bitch and everyone liked her better before her success (which turns out to be down to a change brought about by a man)
A promising start but a very disappointing resolution.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
The Charmed Life of Alex Moore was very nearly a DNF. Alex is the epitome of Shoreditch hipster, with a start-up that doesn't seem to actually do anything (it's a glorified forum and blog) and she genuinely believes all the hype she comes up with. I agree with her fiancé that she is indeed in danger of disappearing up her own backside.
I was struggling to decide if this was satire or if we are meant to like this world, however Alex being like this turns out to be relevant to the whole story. Her friends and family believe she's not the same person she used to be. New Alex thinks old Alex was a loser, and she even has bouts of vertigo whenever she thinks about her old life.
Then things get weird, I like weird. When Alex is invited to partake in some research on a remote Orkney island, she thinks it's the perfect opportunity to find herself and prove to Harry that she can take a break from the business. Instead she finds a strange group of people intent of finding the truth about the day she woke up with a new outlook on life and started Eudomon.
I won't reveal what secret is hiding in the Orkney Islands but it was worth slogging through the beginning and I enjoyed the rest of the book. It explores the idea of destiny and whether or not can change your path in life. Certain events shape our very being, for better for worse. What would life be like if we weren't weighed down by the past? Sometimes we just need a nudge in the right direction...
I scanned over a few other reviews and it does appear to be a bit of a Marmite book. Some people liked it up until the weird part, which just shows how different we all are as readers. For me, it was crucial that it starts off with the exploding mystery man as I kept reading long enough to find out what the connection was.
I think there's a decent concept at the heart of this book. It's just a shame the execution is so poor. Overly long and confused, full of one dimensional characters and a dislikeable protagonist. The author has a horrible habit of finishing a chapter on a 'real time' cliff hanger. Then starts the next chapter well after the event and explains what happens in the past tense. This completely destroys flow and makes it very difficult to stay engaged. All drama is ruined.
The lead character is very into self help and self discovery and this is reiterated again and again and again. Paragraph after paragraph of how she discovered herself. Annoying beyond belief.
Finally some of the language used is just pretentious nonsense. For example:
"Her mind sank and spread into a cool, glassy pool. She floated in it for a moment, breathing in stillness until every cell was washed clean"
Finally, I have somehow split the spine of this book. Annoying beyond belief!!!
I'm sure readers will fall into two camps here. They'll either love this book, or it just won't be their cup of tea at all, and I sadly fall into the latter category as I just could not get to grips with the story.
It starts off fairly normally, with Alex busy enjoying the excitement from the success of her start up business, then she gets mugged and from then on it veers off into strange science fiction territory and I couldn't wrap my brain around the weirdness of it all. The synopsis itself describes this part as 'WTF!', and I couldn't agree more, although I was expecting something along the lines of a mystery rather than all out weird. If there was a message in here somewhere then I definitely missed what it was. Just not one for me unfortunately.
*I received a copy of the book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I really wanted to like this book. But first, there is not hint of what the book is actually about on the back cover. The plot is improbable, and the language and plot unsophisticated. The young adult fantasy books read by my 12 year old are more clever, sharp and have better prose than this. A real disappointment
I really wanted to like this book but I found it hard to relate to the story and was unable to make sense of it. Sorry this book was not for me. I would like to thank NetGalley and Pan Macmillan for my e-copy in exchange for and honest review.
I received this book in exchange for my honest review.
I was so very, very happy to find that this book was not what would be classified as a “contemporary” fiction read. There are a few cross-overs that came along quite unexpectedly and just when I thought I wasn’t going to enjoy this book, I was taken quite by surprise and pleasantly entertained. The blurb doesn’t do it justice.
The Protagonist was well-rounded and cleverly depicted full of complex and contradictory impulses/character traits that were easy to like. She goes on an incredible journey of self-discovery to where she finds herself facing ultimate and re-defining moments of who she really is.
For those choosing to read this book, I would suggest that readers of science fiction/fantasy be more interested than those who are strictly contemporary readers. The “weird” that everyone is discussing is the cross-over from one genre to the other which is actually a cross-over between sci-fi and fantasy, and I think contemporary readers will be put off by this. If you are an eclectic reader, then you’ll find the twists and cross-overs to your liking.
I find this book rather different and quite intriguing and can’t help but wonder what the pitch to an agent/publisher was like to make them interested enough in representing the author. The synopsis must have sounded a bit bizarre, to say the least :). Perhaps, bizarre will be the next fad fiction. Who knows. Molly Flatt might become a trendsetter because this book was really… bizarre–in a good way! The fact that this is the author’s debut book goes to show how brave and driven this author is and I can’t wait to see what she will deliver next and if she continues with the trend she’s already set in motion.
I listened to this on audio and since I haven't really done so before, I don't know if I would have liked this book more if I had read the physical version. Either way, it was a peculiar read but some of the ideas will definitely stick with me for a while, as will the story as a whole. Maybe I'll read the physical edition someday and compare but this very perfectly fits the rainy day on which I "read," or listened to, almost half the book. Good fall read for sure.
A really odd but enjoyable story, my only real problem was that there wasn't any hint of unusual in the synopsis or on the jacket. This is not your typical story, almost immediately you can feel that something almost fantastical is afoot - it was frustrating that it took over a third of the book to be revealed. Clever and interesting, I'm interested to see what other people think about this.
This book was a pleasant surprise, as I really enjoyed it. I struggled to get into it at first, but stuck it out. By the end I didn't want it to finish. Definitely a book I'll reread and I'll recommend to friends.
I can't decide how I feel about this book. But the fact that it took me so long to get through says a lot. I enjoyed the last quarter the most and I wonder if the story might have benefitted from a non linear narrative to help with pacing and connection to the character.
Like all my favourite books, The Charmed Life of Alex Moore is an easy read without being simple. This is a story which could be mistaken for chick lit mystery in the first few chapters before becoming something much more interesting, special and wonderful. It is well thought through, from the awkwardness of the main character, to the detail of her fantastical experience in the Orkneys, to the surprises that tie everything together at the end, to the unanswered questions that leave the door open for a part two.
Its an impressive debut from Molly Flatt who spins some of the most beautiful bits of prose and one of the most fascinating plot twists I can remember. I hope there's more to come.
A book packed with brains, heart and courage, it's not a spoiler to reveal that Alex Moore's life is anything but charmed (more like wild at heart and weird on top) and I loved every mysterious moment.
That said, I'm not surprised to read a somewhat mixed bag of the early review here as this is a cleverly deceptive book that loves to play with expectations and genres and hats off to all those brave early adopters. This is not a marmite book as some have said, more a cult read in waiting, and as with all the best undefinable books, I fully expect to find people recommending it to me from across the range of my fellow readers - and this will be the moment when I know the book has found its tribe!
It's knowing without being arch, funny one moment, painful the next, satirical when needed (especially when skewering the London tech scene) and gloriously honest when the going gets weird.
Send Alex Moore a Friend Request now. Charmed life or no, you'll be doing yourself a favour by bringing her into yours...
A mashup of Pixar's Inside Out, Dark Matter (Blake Crouch) and Ink And Bone (Rachel Caine), all assembled in an interesting package that is this book.
Okay so, that was a ride with ups and downs, but I will be generous anyway because I think this book overall deserves it. It was overly ambitious and I do think it succeeded 95% of the way through.
The other 5% is why this is not five stars.
Many will tell you it was amazing until the twist, I agree. The buildup is what kept me on the edge of my seat and the revelation is what made me question the entire thing. What I didn't like was how the big plot twist was explained in dialogue instead of being shown as the story progressed, which would have ultimately given it a better sense of mystery. At this point, it was a 3 star read at best for me, but I kept pushing through and rolled with the concept because it progressed further and further and more revelations happened, it all came together and ended up making sense.
Allow me to rant a bit about what I was just a bit disgusted by:
This book was in a book box I decided to try out randomly, to see if I would like this idea of getting a surprise book. And I can see why this was their pick. I do support the choice, despite my spoilery rant. A very good job indeed! I am impressed and happy with the overall experience!
So yes, good book. I am contemplating a reread someday just to see how the hints and pieces that I missed when I didn't know the twists are handled. Would be interesting.
Starting off as a light comedy set in the zeitgeist of the tech world and about a London hipster this book was OK. I liked the idea that Dorothy woke up one morning and became Alex - the duckling to the swan. I disliked just about everything else from then on. Unfortunately this was a book I skim read as I really did not enjoy it - possibly I'm too old to get it!
The author says this book was pitched as "Bridget Jones" meets "The Matrix." Alex Moore was stuck in a dead-end job, and then overnight, she launches a company and becomes one of London's fastest rising tech stars. The book balances realistic events and fantastic themes and is really about a heroine's journey into being a business star with an added speculative technology element. When I think about those two ideas meshed together, I had no idea how the book would work, but it does. I can't help but wonder if the author's experience with science fiction writing played into the strange twists and turns throughout the book.
The author described her earlier days working in the tech industry as “days spent high on groupthink and Vitaminwater, my nights spent alone in hotel rooms, lovingly tending to my social feeds while my stomach ached.” I thought that was such a brilliant description. Then she contrasted that experience to writing one hundred thousand words, again and again, saying: “Perfection is a form of hiding. It’s a way of shutting your true, weird, complicated self away in a shiny, air-conditioned car. It can feel like a refugee, but it’s also a prison and, one day, however diligently you drive it, it will crash. So get out of the car. Kick, scream, and cry on all available shoulders. Then find something to do that matters to you - and get the hell on with it, with all your terrified heart.”
As other reviewers have already mentioned this book is highly imaginative, and for the most part, flows well with catchy descriptions. It explores very powerful concepts as well, such as the way Memories and Stories can take a life force of their own to in chaining us down and holding us back from achieving our fullest potential. But this isn't a self-help book, more of an exploration of the mind through a fun science-fiction genre that felt like a grown up version of Harry Potter for young professional businesswomen. My criticisms of the book, as others have pointed out, is that it does get confusing at times, but if you keep reading, you kind of end up riding the storm of confusion like a huge tidal wave, eventually ending up on shore. Kudos to the author for not serving up a cliched book with pretty characters and a pretty neat ending all tied up in a bow. This was deep, profound, confronting, and at times, very, very unforgiving in describing some pretty hideous bodily functions.
I hate the fact that I am even giving a one star review and that this book made me feel like writing my first ever review (and it’s a bad one) but I really didn’t like this book at all. I don’t think it was written in a way which could effectively bring its reader through its ideas all the way to the conclusion.
After a protracted set up it reveals its hand at around page 160 but I couldn’t get on board with the points it was eventually clear Flatt was trying to make - and I like a bit of weirdness, craziness and sci fi. I feel disappointed in myself for some reason but it’s a no from me :( Definitely one to divide opinion.
Unfortunately I couldn’t finish this book - it’s complete drivel. I didn’t care for the main character Alex and just think it’s someone’s head vomit on a paper. Maybe would be able to give a better overview if I’d managed to finish it but halfway was more than enough for me.
The blurb on Goodreads ends with the promise that this is a very modern adventure with an unexpected twist and this is absolutely the only way to describe this unique and quirky tale!
Alex Moore is a fascinating protagonist. At the beginning we are introduced to a character who has overcome adversity and made a success of herself overnight and almost, it would seem, magically. Through Alex, Flatt has created a character who is very much of the moment and who has used modern technology to carve out a successful business and future. This really is a clever concept and a novel that taps into very current ideas about success and the new business ventures available in a digital age. It's a great premise, it's an interesting one and for the first section of the book we are happy to listen to Alex as she navigates her way through this new role she's suddenly finding herself in. The atmosphere of frenetic chaos and whirlwind of the world Alex finds herself in is really well evoked. We watch her juggle her personal life with her professional one - oh, and yes, perhaps judging her a little! I was a little torn between liking her and being irritated by her, not quite knowing if she believed the mantras she repeated to others and claimed to live her life by, or whether she was aware that she seemed to have change significantly and maybe wasn't always treating people with the respect they deserved. However, all soon becomes clear, as indeed things are not as they seem!
This is quite a hard book to discuss without spoiling the fun and the inventiveness of the storyline. At times it's like reading Bridget Jones, or maybe Jasper Fforde, at other times it's like an episode of Lost or Black Mirror! However it is always warm, humorous and ultimately still explores the universal issues which make up any good story.
You will have to suspend belief a little, you will need to let the author take you on a mysterious and incredible journey but if you can give into this and go along with the flow, it's a rewarding journey. This was certainly not the story I was expecting, nor was it one I might have picked up had I heard much about it but I am glad I did. What Flatt has achieved is a very unique, original and highly imaginative novel with a great characterisation and a very well managed plot which is flawlessly executed despite its complexity and strangeness.
Currently fiction is seeing a bit of genre blending and perhaps this is a novel which is a good example of what can be achieved with a few bold strokes of the pen, or taps on the keyboard. This is a story for the digital age, but it is also a story with some poignant insights which will never become obsolete. The writing is good, the plot is highly inventive, the main character is well enough crafted for the reader to care and want to follow on this crazy adventure. Flatt is clearly has talent and is one to watch as I would be intrigued to see what she might do next.
The Charmed Life of Alex Moore is the kind of book you'll want your friends to read because you'll want to chat about it. It will surprise you, entertain you and it's always good to read something which is unexpected and doing something a little different within it's genre.