(1) The Soft Machine by William Burroughs
Literature / Science Fiction: "A ferocious verbal assault on hatred, hype, poverty, war, bureaucracy, and addiction in all its forms, this is a surreal space odyssey through the wounded galaxies in a book only Burroughs could create."
Burroughs is one of those writers that usually divides people instantly into the love him or hate him camps, but I'm still undecided about where I belong so I'm sitting in the middle for now. The Soft Machine is a weird, weird book that features Burroughs' infamous 'cut up' writing style (which again, you'll either love or hate) and dips in and out of sci-fi/fantasy worlds as the characters (who are mostly junkies/rent boys) have random drug-fuelled conversations about life and the universe. The bizarre prose made it difficult for me to fully follow any kind of actual storyline, but every now and again, the narrators offer up these fascinating titbits of social commentary that are so blunt and forceful, that I found myself agreeing with what they are saying and before I know it, I'm on the last page. In a nutshell, if you want something to read that's unconventional and strange, then this is the book for you. [3/5]
(2) The Girl With All The Gifts by M. R Carey
Horror / Dystopian / Science Fiction: "Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite. But they don't laugh. Melanie is a very special girl."
The world has been infected by a virus that turns its victims into 'Hungries', ravage beings that have an insatiable appetite for human flesh. On an army base near London, a small research unit is trying to come to terms with the virus and studies young captured Hungries in the hope of understanding how it spreads. Melanie is one of these test subjects, yet is portrayed as a normal school girl who seems capable of learning like a normal human. Are the scientists wrong about their theories? It's a gripping dystopia that reminds me of The Walking Dead and Let The Right One In, yet gives a different take on the typical 'zombie' genre to keep things interesting. Definitely one I'd recommend. [4/5]
(3) The Weight Of Water by Anita Shreve
Historical Fiction / Mystery: "When a photographer researches a legendary crime that took place a century earlier, she immerses herself in the details of the case and finds herself caught in the grip of an uncontrollable emotion."
The Weight Of Water is a darkly brooding story focused on our protagonist Jean, who begins her journey on a remote New Hampshire island to document the brutal murders of two women back in 1873. It's an unusual concept for a photographer to undergo, but as the plot progresses, you start to unravel Jean's motives and understand just why she is so pained to unearth these well hidden past secrets. The prose is beautiful, highly descriptive and emotive throughout and really illustrates Shreve's literary talent. Her words have a way of getting underneath your skin, though the story does meander slightly at times which is my only tiny criticism of this intriguing novel. [3/5]
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