One of my favourite authors writes a modern retelling of my favourite Shakespeare play ('favourite' seems such a silly word to use of Lear), yet I canOne of my favourite authors writes a modern retelling of my favourite Shakespeare play ('favourite' seems such a silly word to use of Lear), yet I can't help be apprehensive about these projects....more
[3.5] This is pretty much spot on about the scale of the refugee crisis in real 2017 (esp if you also consider the hardline policies of Australia in t[3.5] This is pretty much spot on about the scale of the refugee crisis in real 2017 (esp if you also consider the hardline policies of Australia in the mix) - except that volunteers seeking to help refugees in Southern Europe aren't regarded as such a problem, and she missed the phenomenon of right wing groups trying to down refugee boats. And talking of the right wing, the sense of political polarisation isn't far wrong, though would have rang truer in 2016 before the backlash against UKIP started. Water wars, however, including Israel-Palestine and skirmishes in Western Europe and state-against-state standoffs in the US - those, well, the two latter anyway, probably have a few decades to go.
This is a tighter novel than The Carbon Diaries 2015, but there isn't anything like as much about the carbon rationing scheme here as in the first book. It's become a more normal part of life for the characters. The similarity of the refugee situation, the only-slightly-worse-than-last-year scenario for the rise of the far right in Britain, and accounts of demonstrators being kettled and beaten by police felt more like reading slight fictionalisations of news than anything novel and futuristic; they're like dystopia 2020 that someone might have written in 2016 just before the Brexit vote. (Carbon Diaries Britain is on a different, but not overtly described, timeline where Britain uses the Euro and kilometres, and where an unnamed bank was allowed to collapse in 2009.) The sense of verisimilitude was explained when I noticed in the author's bio that she, like the narrator, Laura, used to play in hardcore punk bands: there is a lot here about squat life and radical political meetings and collectives, and experience on demos that rings very true from what I've heard from people I know and have read online. The sense of threat and emergency is very much what the more anxious or traumatised people in these groups have always felt was the tenor of life and politics - but in the novel it's completely justified because the government is becoming increasingly totalitarian. Laura is a bit more self-aware than in the previous book (as she should be, being 19 now) but still cynical, unsure whether protest changes much but moved by her friends and sometimes policies and experiences she witnesses to do something after all.
This is basically a YA novel about being involved in punk, radical left politics and the squat scene, set against a realist-dystopian backdrop ["Naturalistic fiction written today is necessarily fairly pessimistic — otherwise, it wouldn’t be a realistic depiction of the present." - William Gibson - it's not really about carbon rationing as the previous one was. I don't really know much about contemporary YA, but I get the impression this portrays a way of life that isn't covered in a huge number of other novels, so is probably of interest to some readers for that regardless....more
[3.5] More camp, showbizzy, trashy fun with a dark edge and a bit of tongue in its cheek... i.e. enough similarities to Murder Most Fab that it should[3.5] More camp, showbizzy, trashy fun with a dark edge and a bit of tongue in its cheek... i.e. enough similarities to Murder Most Fab that it should satisfy most readers who liked Clary's first novel. The main characters are also a gay man and his fag hag best friend. However, it does have a stronger chicklit element than his earlier book, and I felt it was told in a more unsettling way, both meaning that I personally didn't enjoy it quite as much as the main story got going; it wasn't such optimal comfort reading for me, though I still raced through it, and it would surely be fine for many.
These two novels of Julian Clary's are the sort of genre mashup that publishers might say didn't fit their popular fiction marketing categories, if they were by an unknown author without a ready made fan base, (they're the sort of thing that doesn't get published too often) and I find them quite refreshing in the way they mess around with certain formulae whilst sticking to others. I particularly like the way they leave in the more explicit and dark details of gay male life - grubby casual sex, substance abuse, bitter loneliness - whilst maintaining the flippant tone (although as a lot of Devil in Disguise concentrates on Molly's story, there's less of this stuff than in Murder Most Fab). It's a shame there aren't more novels like these, as they would be a go-to subgenre of pop fiction for me....more