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Our Life in the Forest

3.51  ·  Rating details ·  202 ratings  ·  62 reviews
In the near future, a woman is writing in the depths of a forest. She’s cold. Her body is falling apart, as is the world around her. She’s lost the use of one eye; she’s down to one kidney, one lung. Before, in the city, she was a psychotherapist, treating patients who had suffered trauma, in particular a man, “the clicker”. Every two weeks, she travelled out to the Rest C ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published August 1st 2018 by Text Publishing (first published August 2017)
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3.51  · 
Rating details
 ·  202 ratings  ·  62 reviews


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Jane
I think I wanted to like Our Life in the Forest more than I actually did like the book. Marie Darrieussecq has created an intriguing world in the near future where humans are more connected (and reliant on computers and robots) than ever, cloning has advanced to the point that most people have at minimum a "jar" of spare organs, and those who are luckiest have full clones (called their "halves" to replace any little body bit that may be needed.

Told in the style of an almost-stream-of-consciousne
...more
Antonomasia
If I read or watch fictional dystopias, it’s not as often as a lot of people these past few years, and I go for scenarios in which society breaks down, not those in which it becomes more totalitarian. It was only because Our Life in the Forest is very short (if you also think in Kindle counts, it’s around 1200) and eligible for next year’s Booker International, that I requested an ARC. I never expected to find a book I would connect with so strongly.

A cover thumbnail had drawn me in a few weeks
...more
Lou
Jun 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
I came across this whilst searching for something really unique to read - this completely fit the bill! The synopsis drew me in immediately and the premise was a fantastic one from a writer who's imagination must be fairly active to "dream up" this concept. Darrieussecq broaches some interesting and important topics such as organ-trafficking, identity, clones, animal rights, surveillance, class, and the environment.

"Our Life in the Forest" can best be described as a modern Frankensteinesque tale
...more
Marchpane
Sep 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
1984 meets Never Let Me Go

Dystopian novels nowadays are often lurid action-fantasies – lots of colourful world-building, heightened drama, a pessimistic but cathartic “look how bad things could get”. But Our Life in the Forest harkens back to a quieter, more existential mode of dystopia. Minimalistic, both in terms of plot and character, it’s not so much about building a world as it is commenting on the one that’s already here.

This very short novel takes the form of a journal – a notebook – wri
...more
Robin Bonne
This is written as a fictional memoir of a therapist that specializes in trauma. The dystopian timeline she details is riveting. The world is filled with drones, robots, and the general sense of an Orwellian corrupt government. The pacing of the story was nearly perfect for me and kept me reading. This is one of those books that is unforgettable and I will end up recalling years after I’ve finished it.

In this future, people can have clones of themselves created as an insurance policy for their
...more
Calzean
Jun 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
The author states she is influenced by Kafka and Orwell - which fits into the theme of this novel about a future world where clones are born and raised to provide an ongoing supply of organs to the few rich enough to afford them. Life expectation is quite low due to pollution, modified foods and some unspecified on-going war. Hence organ replacement is a common procedure for the rich.

The narrator is a psychoanalyst Vivianne who has a "halve" called Marie. Her health is poor but that is OK as Mar
...more
Anna
Mar 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Anna by: Antonomasia
I’ve read a couple of Marie Darrieussecq’s other novels, Pig Tales: A Novel of Lust and Transformation and White, neither of which I was particularly keen on. I much prefer ‘Our Life in the Forest’, which like the other two follows a woman going through some visceral bodily weirdness. The first person narrator, also called Marie, is trying to explain what’s happening before her organs shut down. Her voice is distinctive and compelling, her situation deeply unsettling. In this near future world, ...more
Holly
Sep 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
Viviane is a psychotherapist who is writing a journal, which becomes this book. She lives in a future time, much like Orwell’s 1984 in a surveillance-type world in which people have clones, referred to as halves, in order to have organs to replace any of their’s that fail. For those not rich enough to have a full-blown clone, they get a jar of a heart and a couple more organs.

Viviane names her half Marie and visits her regularly in the Rest Centre even though she is “asleep.” It is a strange co
...more
Kirsty
Jun 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: june-2018, kindle
I have only read one of French author Marie Darrieussecq's novels to date, All the Way, but I found it rather too offbeat and strange for my personal taste, and was not overly enamoured with it. Her newest offering to have been translated into English by Penny Hueston, however, sounded most interesting. Whilst still not a fan by any means of science fiction, I have been reading a few dystopian tomes of late, and thought I would give Our Life in the Forest a go.

Its blurb states that the novel wi
...more
Becca
Jul 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Our Life in The Forest
3/5 Stars

The book cover is fantastic. At first glance it doesn’t look like much, isn’t very eye-catching, but knowing the story and eyeing those different body parts, the tone and pace of the story, it seems a perfect fit.
I find the writing style quite interesting, and yet quite difficult to settle into at the same time. It’s stream of consciousness writing, which while a bit jarring, is very apt for the psychiatrist. The story is meandering, my sister says my niece ‘goes
...more
Erin Lassoff
Jun 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Our Life in the Forest is a kind of modern Frankensteinesque story set in the near future where clones, or 'halves', are kept in an induced coma so that their organs may be available for replacement. The general public, particularly those of the 'Generation' are constantly sick due to pollution and modified foods, making organ replacement a common procedure.

Following a revelation about the true nature of the 'halves', psychoanalyst Vivianne/Marie finds herself joining a group of dissenters livin
...more
Text Publishing
‘Darrieussecq’s writing brings the story to life vividly in your mind.’
Good Reading

‘Our Life in the Forest is a psychologically astute novel, with a few well-executed twists that will no doubt please fans of the genre.’
Saturday Paper
Alexis
Oct 28, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: netgalley
Set some time in the future where people have "halves" they use to extract organs for transplant into themselves, this story is told by one woman who is writing her life story. She now lives in a forest with a group of other people, and she looks back on how she got there and what happened to her before that point.

This was a really odd book to me. It was relatively short, and the narrative was winding and full of tangents, so it was quite hard to follow. I think this was intentional, as the narr
...more
Jena Henry
Jul 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
In the near future, a woman huddles and grows colder. She is writing her thoughts in a notebook. Author Marie Darrieussecg has created a spellbinding tale from the woman’s internal thoughts.

This dystopian tale is told in the first person and unlike most sci-fi fantasy, it is not an action thriller. Instead, it will haunt you as the horror slowly grows.

The narrator Viviane, is a psychotherapist and she has a lived a typical life for the times. She has an electrical unit in her head, and two othe
...more
Ying
Jun 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Told from the a journal-like point of view, this book explores the past life of the main character Vivianne, and her cloned "half", Marie.

Vivianne tells us (through her journal like writing) about how she ended up living in this forest, and how she struggles with her fascination with her half.

I really liked the concept. One of my favourite sci-fi topics to explore are clones used for organ donation of the "real" individual, such a fun idea. This book does it way better than the novel Never Let
...more
Dasha M
I loved this. I loved this so much. It's disturbing, it's strange, it leaves me questioning.
Kim
Jun 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Dark and intense. What a strange story.

The writing was systematic at first but then became completely hypnotic. Even though my mind was aware of what was going on in the story I still felt strangely surprised at the ending.
Rebecca Bowyer
Our Life in the Forest, by Marie Darrieussecq, is an experimental future dystopian novel for those who loved The End We Start From. A future where the lucky ones have a ‘half’, an identical body lying in storage from which they can harvest spare body parts as needed. Less fortunate humans have a ‘jar’, just a heart and lungs as a back up. The poor have nothing.

Marie is the name of both the author and the central character. Marie the character tells the narrative as a stream of consciousness and
...more
Lisa
Aug 09, 2018 rated it liked it
Our Life in the Forests by French author Marie Darrieussecq, is a book both strange and familiar. It’s strange because it’s set in a dystopian otherworld of clones and advanced technologies, and it’s familiar because the created society uses the common tropes of speculative fiction: haves and have-nots; clones disconcertingly like humans; inescapable surveillance systems; and rebels who have fled back to nature. Comparisons with Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go (2005) are inevitable because of t ...more
BookwormishMe
Sep 29, 2018 rated it liked it
I am a huge fan of dystopian novels, especially when they don’t initially appear dystopian. Our Life in the Forest is a tale of a world where people have spare parts. Spare parts in jars, spare parts in living, breathing humans.

Viviane writes us a journal. A journal of her life living in the world as a “Generation” child. Living in the world where she has a cloned twin that is used for spare parts. Parts that will go to Viviane as she needs them. The story begins with Viviane explaining how her
...more
The Idle Woman
Feb 10, 2019 rated it liked it
2.5 stars

The future. Near? Distant? It’s hard to say. A woman writes in an old notebook in a forest, hurrying to get everything down. She’s cold, tired, falling to pieces. She and her companions are fugitives from the status quo and the government will find them, soon. They’ve done their best, but is that enough? What does it achieve? There isn’t much time but someone has to record the truth. And so this woman, formerly a psychologist, turns her gaze upon herself: her privileged position as one
...more
Mithila
Dec 20, 2018 rated it liked it
This book checks the boxes for all of the following: dystopian fiction, science fiction, stream-of-consciousness writing style, the-future-is-doomed-due-the-decisions-we-made-in-the-past theme.

I did try to like this book as much as I could. I appreciate the concept of "halves" introduced by the author. The first person style of writing peppered with a no non-sense style of storytelling brought brevity and crispness to the story. However, I found the story a bit tough to follow, as the narrator
...more
Beca
Jul 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
* I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review *

Our Life in the Forest depicts a disturbing dystopian future where the mass population exists solely to produce organs/parts to increase the longevity of the super-rich. MC Viviane's story is told in a journal like POV, and bounces from present, to future A LOT meaning the reader has to work to figure out what is going on. While reading you do feel Viviane's sense of urgency, which is the manner the MC is writing he
...more
Theediscerning
Jul 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is one of those rare books where I'm really glad I stuck with it (mostly because if I don't stick with it, I never find out how brilliant it gets, but you get the gist). It seemed a mish-mash of concept and little plot for far too long, and it more than seems to be a mish-mash at times, with a very errant approach, only partly justified by the narrator. I'll not deign to say any of the plot, or the ideas behind things, but I will say that everything you come to these pages not knowing anyth ...more
Cat
Sep 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book reminded me of never Let Me Go and an old movie I remember from the 70's called Clone, I think. These kind of stories just creep the bejesus out of me, but I finally finished it. Clones raised for spare parts...grisly. This is that sort of tale with a twist. The originals and their clones take off to hide in the woods, but the clones aren't very mature. Like I said, creepy. Loneliness is more the theme than any, but still the cloning for parts just clings....It's well written and who k ...more
Greg
Our Life in the Forest is a dystopian novella about a female therapist who has run from the society that she lived in to live in a forest with fellow dissidents. She has also rescued her "half", a term for a genetically-identical body kept at rest for the purpose of organ transplantation should the need arise.

The brevity of Darrieussecq's story gives it quite an impressionistic feel; circumstances and backstory are more hinted at than expounded on, and a lot is left to the imagination. Still, th
...more
Rose Cox
Mar 10, 2019 rated it did not like it
This is the perfect example of amazing concept, terrible execution. From start to page 100 (where I decided to finish) this book was headache inducing. The attempts at stream of conscience were difficult, almost impossible, to follow and detracted greatly from what was otherwise pleasant writing.

I will probably attempt another Marie Darriessecq book in the future, however this was a large miss.
Hanadi
Sep 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was awesomely unique. A unique take on a dystopian future, clones, control, power and surveillance.
The narrator is so relatable, from the way she writes, to how she describes herself, her surroundings, her situation and the way she mocks herself...Ha!
Will definitely be looking up more of Marie’s work.
Carmel North
I think I would have appreciated this book more if I were more literate in french, but overall it was an interesting commentary on isolation and escapism in modern society. The writing was a bit hard to follow as it didn't have any sort of chronology but again, it would have been easier to comprehend if I were better at french.
Charles Northey
Mar 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I wizzed through this book. It does a great job of covering territory covered in other books; the horrific keeps to the periphery until it bats you sidelong in the brain. Without giving too much away, I’ll slide this between Kazuo Ishiguro and Margaret Atwood on my bookshelf.
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Goodreads Librari...: Book Blurb 3 15 Jun 29, 2018 12:37AM  

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Marie Darrieussecq was born on January 3, 1969. She was raised in a small village in the Basque Country.

While finishing her PhD in French literature, she wrote her first novel, Truismes (Pig Tales) which was published in September 1996 by Paul Otchakovsky-Laurens (POL), who have published all her subsequent novels as well. After the success of Truismes, Darrieussecq decided to quit her teaching po
...more