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message 1: by Lu (new)

Lu | 12655 comments Mod
The discussion thread for our Feb - March BoM. Please avoid spoilers, or use the spoiler tag to hide them: < spoiler> spoiler>


Marius Plessis (shanothaine) Hi all!

Very cool news - there's a R30 discount on this book if you buy it from the publisher's online store with discount code GOODREADS for 5 copies.

Here's the link:
http://www.foxandravenemporium.com/pr...

Enjoy!


message 3: by Lu (last edited Feb 04, 2015 07:53AM) (new)

Lu | 12655 comments Mod
Hosted by: Lauren S and anyone can jump in


message 4: by Lauren (new) - added it

Lauren Smith I'll host, if anyone participates.

I'm going to start this today or tomorrow; anyone want to join me?


Liezel (liezkl) | 736 comments I'll join, but will only start next week


message 6: by Lauren (new) - added it

Lauren Smith Cool :) I have other stuff to read so will probably be a bit slow with this anyway.


Janice | 1820 comments Mod
Started this last night. I'm probably going to be slow with this as well.

So far I'm enjoying the little "entries" about kills Fletcher has done. Should I be finding them funny? Because I do.


message 8: by Lauren (new) - added it

Lauren Smith I found them a bit amusing at first, but I quickly got very tired of it. It seems like I can't go a page without Fletcher mentioning some cruel and/or violent thing he's done and telling us how he behaves like a jackass. I mean, I get it - Fletcher is an insane asshole. He's the most insane asshole who ever lived. No one is more fucked up than him. He's a bad, bad man, who thinks horrible thoughts, does horrible things to people, and hates the world and everyone in it. I've enjoyed reading characters like this, but I feel the author is laying it on a bit thick.

So yeah, not quite my thing. But I'll see how it goes. I'm hoping the pace picks up soon so that we get more plot and less of Fletcher's thoughts and feelings.


message 9: by Jax (last edited Feb 09, 2015 01:13PM) (new)

Jax | 899 comments Mod
I haven't read this.
Mainly because I wasn't willing to pay $12.53 for the e-book of an unknown author. (sort of glad I didn't!)

Lauren: LOL!!!
I know exactly what you mean!
The issue's not that he's a horrid character, just that you'd like to stop hearing about how awfully horrid he is, and just get on with the story!

A good author should be able to portray such aspects of their character through plot and character interaction (or even well written inner monologue) - and not stopping to tell you so every few paragraphs.

On numerous occasions, my poor hubby's gotten to hear me rant out loud at the author(s) while gesticulating wildly at the offending pages, before continuing my read in a bit of a huff. :P


message 10: by Lauren (last edited Feb 15, 2015 12:01AM) (new) - added it

Lauren Smith You guys still reading this?

I managed to stick with it by reading in little bursts, and I've got just under a hundred pages to go. There's one thing I keep thinking about - at no point in this book have I ever rooted for K. It's kind of absurd that he's trying to solve a murder because he's a murderer himself, he's murdered people for the same company that murdered the two people whose deaths he is investigating, and along the way he murders a whole bunch of innocent people. He doesn't kill them to aid his cause either; sometimes he just kills for fun or because someone annoys him.

I actually have (reluctantly) rooted for serial killers and other morally unsalvageable characters before, but there's nothing about K that makes me like or even admire him enough for that. I just feel sorry for the people who have the bad luck of running into him.

So now I'm just finishing for the sake of finishing because I don't want K to 'win' and I don't care what his goals are. I just want someone to kill him, although if that happens, it won't even be satisfying because he's done so much damage already.

I'm wondering if this is what the author intended? Experimenting with an extremely unlikeable character?


message 11: by Jax (new)

Jax | 899 comments Mod
Lauren, When you say that there's nothing that makes you like the character, does that mean that there's something that makes you dislike him?(Apart from his being a psychopath that is.)
Or is it more of a not caring either way? A lack of strong sentiment?

Usually there's something or someone involved that gains support, making the reader become invested in the outcome. Even if it is just routing for a specific character to "win" the day - not necessarily the protagonist.

I like your "Experimenting with an extremely unlikeable character?"
What aspects generally put a character into the unlikeable category for you?

I ask, as I've come across many of those!
Sometimes to such an extent that I wish I was able to somehow appear within the pages to do bodily harm to them.

Perhaps Horscroft is trying to get the reader in touch with their inner sociopath?


message 12: by Lauren (new) - added it

Lauren Smith Jax wrote: "Lauren, When you say that there's nothing that makes you like the character, does that mean that there's something that makes you dislike him?(Apart from his being a psychopath that is.)
Or is it more of a not caring either way? A lack of strong sentiment?"


It's a mixture of those things. There's nothing I like about him. These kinds of characters are normally freakishly intelligent or are insane in some interesting way that you admire even if the character is scary and unlikeable. But K is just nuts, just wants to kill people. There's nothing else to him. The only thing I appreciated from a more general perspective is that K is bisexual, and you don't get many lgbtq characters being badass. They tend to be on the sidelines and are often the first to get killed off.

But I dislike pretty much everything about him, and all of that is related to the fact that he's a psychopath. His crazy behaviour gets on my nerves but also undermines the story. What's the point of solving the murder if K's a serial killer murdering more people along the way? Eventually the plot becomes more about revenge than the murder case, but again, I don't side with K, because who cares if he's upset? I feel bad for his victims, most of whom are just ordinary people who have the bad luck of running into him. He's the one who deserves to die in a revenge killing.

He has two friends, both of whom I like more than him, but not enough to get invested in them. They're mostly just there to support K's story.

The result is that I find myself too detached to care what happens. Or rather, the only thing I do hope for is for him to get killed. He's going up against some evil corporation, but he's just as evil. For example, there's a bit where they're torturing him for information, but at the same time he's got a woman chained up and starving in his basement. At one point he electrocuted her because he was having a bad day. He does that sort of thing all the time.

What aspects generally put a character into the unlikeable category for you?
Stupidity. Excessive cruelty. Excessive self-indulgence/self-righteousness.

Although "likeable" and "unlikeable" are perhaps the wrong terms to use here. I don't need a character to be likeable to enjoy a book. If I find an unlikeable character interesting, if I can empathise with them or admire them, then it still works for me. For example, I watched this horror movie where I was getting really angry with the main character for being stupid and endangering himself and his whole family, but (unlike most horror movies) you understood what motivated him and knew exactly why he did what he did. So even while I was yelling at him, I appreciated his character because I could see things from his perspective and I really enjoyed the movie.

Another example: I've always hated Sansa Stark from GoT, but last year I read an article describing her behaviour in a much more sympathetic light, so even though I still dislike her, I can now appreciate who her character is.

Then one more, that's more like K: I don't like Rorschach from Watchmen because he's an excessively violent sociopath, but I can understand his view of the world and therefore understand his behaviour, so I think he's a great character. Sometimes I hate what he does, but he can still put me in touch with my inner sociopath, as you put it.

With K, I don't get that at all. He's on another level where there's no reasoning - he just wants to torture and kill people.


message 13: by Jax (new)

Jax | 899 comments Mod
That's interesting - and also a little weird that the author left his character quite so wanting. I wonder if he did it deliberately? To accentuate the pointless-ness of Fletcher's actions?
As you say, quite often, the authors give us a perspective we hadn't considered which then gives us an understanding of their characters actions and reactions. Perhaps Horscroft's point is that we shouldn't relate or sympathize with the psychopath, that there isn't rhyme or reason to their behavior? However if that is the case, I counter with the argument - "In whose opinion?" (I enjoy being otherwise, and generally taking an opposing view to whatever is considered socially acceptable behavior). Mwahaha!


As for Sansa, LOL! I wouldn't say I hated her, but she annoyed the crap out of me. All the other Starks had backbone! She was just so wishy-washy! (Though I will grant you, I guess that's part of what kept her alive with Joffrey.)
But I hear what you're saying.
Just because a character isn't likeable, it shouldn't necessarily detract from the story, and vice versa.

Like the woman from the horror movie "Drag me to Hell".
I guess you're supposed to sympathize with her, and hope she survives - but she just got on my nerves. And when she decided to try sacrifice an animal to get out of her predicament, I was just like - "I'm done, she can die now."

I don't mind Rorschach, but then Deadpool is one of my favorite comic characters. I love him! Even though he's essentially a mercenary/assassin with very few (if any) morals.
I guess I generally tend to like the supposedly "unlikeable" characters. As another GR user put it in a discussion regarding characters we love to hate - The morally ambiguous characters or those who don't conform to the good or bad/white or black view points tend to be more interesting as you can never be sure about how they'll react or what they'll do. Whereas the straight cut characters tend to be a little more predictable.


message 14: by Liezel (last edited Feb 16, 2015 12:13PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Liezel (liezkl) | 736 comments I'm about halfway through the book and I have to agree, I don't like K. At the beginning I was sort of rooting for him until I realised that his killing is indiscriminate and that there really is no 'method to his madness'. I guess I prefer my psychopaths to have some character, which if you look at the true meaning of psychopath, is an unreasonable expectation and unfortunately the definition fits K perfectly.

That said, the thing I do like about K is that he owns his behaviour, he makes no excuses ( doesn't blame society or bad parents), it's simply - 'this is who I am, deal with it'

As for the story, I like the parts where K actually focuses on the case and his thought processes around it, especially his interactions with Valerie.
I do wonder how K got involved with crime investigations in the first place, the mercenary for hire part I can understand, especially considering that he's more opportunistic with his own killings and not methodical in any way.

@Lauren re: Sansa, I think we may have read the same article - it didn't make her any less annoying, but certainly made me look at her in a new light


Marius Plessis (shanothaine) I find it fascinating that K is referred to as male throughout this thread - Fletcher's gender is never asserted, not even once. Funny how the immediate association is male, no?

Also, my personal opinion is that the point is, there is no point.

Some people are awful, with no motive, no conscience, they are self-indulgent and cruel and do things because they feel like it.

I love this book. I love it because of its theatre of the absurd undertones, its almost-modernist narrative, and its blatant disregard of what a book 'should' be.

Life is a disorganised mess. People suck. Plotlines don't always make sense. Motive is something that very few people dabble in.

In terms of the character's psyche, K is probably one of the most authentic characters I've read in a while.


Marius Plessis (shanothaine) I find it fascinating that K is referred to as male throughout this thread - Fletcher's gender is never asserted, not even once. Funny how the immediate association is male, no?

Also, my personal opinion is that the point is, there is no point.

Some people are awful, with no motive, no conscience, they are self-indulgent and cruel and do things because they feel like it.

I love this book. I love it because of its theatre of the absurd undertones, its almost-modernist narrative, and its blatant disregard of what a book 'should' be.

Life is a disorganised mess. People suck. Plotlines don't always make sense. Motive is something that very few people dabble in.

In terms of the character's psyche, K is probably one of the most authentic characters I've read in a while.


message 17: by Lauren (last edited Feb 16, 2015 01:20PM) (new) - added it

Lauren Smith Jax wrote: That's interesting - and also a little weird that the author left his character quite so wanting. I wonder if he did it deliberately? To accentuate the pointless-ness of Fletcher's actions? [...] Perhaps Horscroft's point is that we shouldn't relate or sympathize with the psychopath, that there isn't rhyme or reason to their behavior?
Well the book has some enthusiastic reviews, so I'm sure the character is not as unlikeable to others as he is to me. I'm hoping Janice and Liezel will share their thoughts too.
But I've been debating this issue. Usually, a main character is expected to be relatable somehow, even if they're hateful. But what if there's a level of madness with which no other person could possibly empathise? I wouldn't want to be a stickler for convention and say that you just shouldn't write this kind of character. So how could one be written? And how should a reader best approach one?

I get the sense that the author wants us to like K, or at least root for him. There's a lot of humour, and a lot of action with K being badass and showing off his skills. Plus he's going up against the big evil corporation, and no one wants them to win.

But I don't know if trying to make K likeable or trying to make us 'choose' K is the right tactic. Weirdly enough, I think I might have liked this more if it was darker, if K wasn't always cracking jokes or bragging about being cruel and the book just quietly indulged the idea that this world is shit, and whatever happens the bad guys will win because they're the only ones who can play.


message 18: by Lauren (new) - added it

Lauren Smith Jax wrote: "Sansa, Drag Me to Hell, morally ambiguous characters"

Ok yeah, "hate" might be too strong a word for Sansa, but she definitely annoyed the hell out of me too!

The MC from Drag Me to Hell actually didn't annoy me. Interesting that you mentioned it, because it's one of those cases where I appreciated what the movie did, but didn't enjoy it at all. It's one of those horrific scenarios where something terrible happens to a decent person who's trying to get by and makes one fateful mistake. It's grossly unfair but inescapable. I think she had to do that animal sacrifice, because it fitted nicely. Early on in the movie she says something about not wanting to do satanic rituals, animal sacrifices, etc., and by the end she's done all of those things. But ugh, there was such an excess of disgusting bodily fluids in that movie. Also kind of kooky.

I definitely prefer the morally ambiguous characters. Sansa annoyed me for being too goody-two-shoes, although an interesting thing about GoT is the way people tend to get completely fucked over for trying to be noble.
But yeah, unflinchingly noble characters can be very boring. I love to see a character struggle with their ethics and make bad decisions. My favourite book from last year featured a character who has the opportunity to save the world, but has to decide if that's what he's going to do, because he has some very selfish reasons for wanting the world to be destroyed.


message 19: by Lauren (new) - added it

Lauren Smith Liezel wrote: "I guess I prefer my psychopaths to have some character, which if you look at the true meaning of psychopath, is an unreasonable expectation and unfortunately the definition fits K perfectly."

Yeah, this is the issue I'm struggling with too. I feel like there's nothing more to K than being a psychopath, and there's no point trying to understand his madness. But is it fair for me to ask for a more... 'structured' psychopath?

I've also wondered why K is investigating this. Someone pays him with a gold ring, but we never hear from them. And I think he immediately spends it on a bar tab. Does he need the money? Maybe he's just curious and wants a puzzle to solve? Because I can't imagine why he'd care otherwise.


message 20: by Lauren (new) - added it

Lauren Smith Marius wrote: "I find it fascinating that K is referred to as male throughout this thread - Fletcher's gender is never asserted, not even once. Funny how the immediate association is male, no?

Also, my personal ..."


Huh, kudos to the author, I never noticed that. The figure on the cover looks more male than female, although looking at it now, it could go either way. An illustration of an androgynous face would make a cool cover too.


Liezel (liezkl) | 736 comments Lauren wrote: "But what if there's a level of madness with which no other person could possibly empathise?"

Personally, this sums up my feelings towards K, I don't like K because I cannot empathise with him (I'm sticking to the masculine form, blame it on the bookcover ;)) and I can't empathise because there's no "acceptable excuses" for his behaviour.

However, I accept that this is K, totally messed up (in my view), somewhat charming (who would hire the obvious psycho to investigate a murder) with a callous attitude to life. I like his humour, it shows that he doesn't take things too seriously, after all this is someone who kills because he is bored.

He's also probably not totally irredeemable (wishful thinking on my part), he is going after the evil corporation, although I doubt his intentions are noble, and you have to wonder why Vincent constantly 'cleans up' after K, it certainly can't be blackmail considering K's kill numbers.
Do I want him to win the fight - yes, would I care if he dies in the process - no.


message 22: by Jax (new)

Jax | 899 comments Mod
Lauren wrote: "But ugh, there was such an excess of disgusting bodily fluids in that movie."

Agreed! one would think she'd have learned to keep her mouth closed! :D

Lauren wrote: "But what if there's a level of madness with which no other person could possibly empathise?"

There's a possible conundrum!
I wanted to say that there could possibly be other psychopath(s) out there that may empathize with Fletcher, understand how his mind works, but then the term Psychopath implies a lack of empathy.
The question is, is that a complete lack of empathy? Or just the inability to empathize with "normal" people?


message 23: by Lauren (new) - added it

Lauren Smith I asked the author a couple of questions about the issues we were discussing. You can read the interview here: https://violininavoid.wordpress.com/2...


message 24: by Jax (new)

Jax | 899 comments Mod
Thanks for the link!

I still probably won't read the book (although this is not a definite) - but I most definitely like the Author, and his responses have admittedly tweaked my interest in regard to the character. :)
And I could see myself enjoying a dinner conversation with him. :D


Liezel (liezkl) | 736 comments Thanks for this, it was interesting to see K from the author's perspective.

I actually really liked the book, once I stepped back from my own preconceived expectations of K and the 'world' of the book.
Admittedly it was hard at the beginning as the book took me out of my comfort zone. It was difficult to accept a world without good and the lack of moral fibre in the characters. And even though that is not a realistic view of the world, this is K's view and 'he' probably would focus on what interests him, the bad in the world. (wow, it's really hard not assigning gender to someone - kudos to the author for sticking to it)


message 26: by David (last edited Mar 04, 2015 04:03AM) (new)

David Horscroft (forealiously) Jax: I'm always open to chat :D Feel free to drop me a message.

Lauren: thanks for running this interview. It was bundles of fun and I love talking about the bisexual sociopath (bisexiopath?) dynamic.

Liezel: the only feasible way, in my eyes, to make a gender-ambiguous character is to write it in first person. That way "he/she said" is effortlessly translated into "I said". Having considered writing some Fletchery short stories from a second perspective (one of the V's, maybe) I've found it becomes almost impossible to write fluidly; either you end up using "they" a lot which, while correct, doesn't flow that well, or you end up overusing permutations of the name, which sounds stilted.

That being said, there's no "wrong" answer. If you think Fletcher is male, there's nothing wrong with referring to the character with male pronouns.

Everyone in this conversation brought up some really cool points; thanks! You've made me think hard about what I wrote, which is pretty exciting.


message 27: by Lauren (new) - added it

Lauren Smith David wrote: "Jax: I'm always open to chat :D Feel free to drop me a message.

Lauren: thanks for running this interview. It was bundles of fun and I love talking about the bisexual sociopath (bisexiopath?) dyna..."


It's my pleasure David! And thanks for doing it despite all my criticisms :)


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