July Books List

Monday 3 August 2015

A round up of the books that I read last month:-

(1) Naked Lunch by William Burroughs
Contemporary / Literature: "The anarchic, phenomenally strong-selling classic from the godfather of the Beats.  Provocative, influential, morbidly fascinating and mordantly funny, Naked Lunch takes us on an exhilarating ride through the darkest recesses of the human psyche."

I first read Naked Lunch when I was an easily impressionable teenager, looking for that perfect slice of escapism, and something that I could brag about reading to my immediate social circle in a vain attempt to look 'cool'. Re-reading it as a mostly disillusioned-with-the-world, often pissed off twenty-something, certainly sheds a different light on the material, but the premise still remained the same thankfully. You won't like Naked Lunch if you enjoy properly structured books with prose that flows freely and is easily consumed by the mind. You won't like Naked Lunch if you're offended by explicit drug use, lots of depravity, vulgar terms and obscene situations. And you absolutely won't like Naked Lunch if you've read any of Burrough's other work and hated those. He takes some getting used to, but something in his writing just clicks with me and he always delivers that slice of escapism that I'm desperately looking for when I pick up a book.  

I'm glad that I've taken the time to re-read Naked Lunch; it's one of the most random and disjointed stories that I've ever read and I love that you can read all the parts in whichever order you fancy. It's like Burroughs intentionally wants to mess up the reader's head as much as possible, but in an oddly good way.  [4/5]

(2) Spares by Michael Marshall Smith
Science-Fiction / Dystopia: "Spares - human clones, the ultimate health insurance. An eye for an eye, but some people are doing all the taking. Spares - the story of Jack Randall: burnt-out, dropped out, and with a zero credit rating at the luck bank. Spares - it's fiction. But only just..."

Spares is a sci-fi novel based on the concept of the wealthy having their own clones created and stored on a farm, so when they need a 'replacement' such as a kidney transplant or a new leg etc, they simply take it from their clone. This idea is something that comes up every now and again in sci-fi literature, and I've always been fascinated by the idea of cloning and the ethical implications attached to it. Spares however focuses more on our main protagonist, Jack Randall - a wayward ex-junkie cop who had a job guarding the clones on the farm but starts to see them as more than clones and plots an adventurous escape plan. Cue a fast-paced story as Jack runs around in a desperate attempt to keep one step ahead from the people who are after him. 

Whilst the storyline is engaging, I feel it misses the mark on a number of occasions and would have been a lot more interesting if it had included more info about the clones and spliced that in throughout, plus the world-building could have been a lot more descriptive and imaginative. It's not bad though so it gets a solid 3/5 from me.  [3/5]

(3) Impulse by Ellen Hopkins
YA / Coming Of Age / Mental Health: "Three lives, three different paths to the same destination: Aspen Springs, a psychiatric hospital for those who have attempted the ultimate act -- suicide."

Don't be put off by the thickness of this book; it's actually a very short read as the story is composed entirely of verse and features small segments on each page so I raced through the pages very quickly. Impulse is one of those rare coming of age stories which sticks in your mind long after you've finished it. It follows three teenagers who have all been admitted to a juvenile psychiatric hospital. There's Vanessa, an intelligent but serial self-harmer, Tony, a kid from the wrong side of the tracks whose early years have been plagued with abuse, and Connor, the middle class son from a well to- do family who tries to kill himself due to the mounting pressures from his parents. 

Hopkins does an excellent job of understanding the teenage psyche and as the three strangers become friends, their thoughts on life - past, present and future, intertwine beautifully as they go through the steps to recovery and adulthood.  [4/5] 

(4) The Ocean At The End Of The Lane by Neil Gaiman
YA / Fantasy: "Sussex, England. A middle-aged man returns to his childhood home to attend a funeral. Although the house he lived in is long gone, he is drawn to the farm at the end of the road, where, when he was seven, he encountered a most remarkable girl, Lettie Hempstock, and her mother and grandmother."

This is one of those books that you could read in its entirety on a rainy afternoon and be completely enthralled by it. Gaiman's ability to capture the reader's imagination and transport you straight away into the setting of the story, never ceases to amaze me. The Ocean At The End Of The Lane allows you to escape into a farm in the countryside which seems quite ordinary to begin with, but then starts to twist and turn into a perfectly crafted YA fantasy novel. Through the eyes of a seven year old boy, the book mixes all the real fears and worries of being an innocent child with an evil, mystical, paranormal element. I loved it.  [4/5]

What have you been reading lately?

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  1. I remember reading Naked Lunch when I was younger for the exact same reason!
    Love Hayley,
    Water Painted Dreams

  2. Oh I love The Ocean at the End of the Lane! I agree, it is one of those books you can just consume in one sitting :)

    | Light in the Wasteland |

  3. I love the sound of Impulse - it sounds similar to Sarah Crossan's work.

    Dannie x

  4. I added Naked Lunch to my shopping cart x


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