Sunday, 11 January 2015

Book Review #1 / The Shock Of The Fall

One of my new year's resolutions was to read more and I've set myself a little challenge to read a book each week, this year. My first book of 2015 was 'The Shock of the Fall', a debut by Nathan Filer, which won the Costa Book of the Year, in 2014. Did it live up to it's expectations? Here's what I thought...

"I'll tell you what happened because it will be a good way to introduce my brother. His name's Simon. I think you're going to like him. I really do. But in a couple of pages he'll be dead. And he was never the same after that."

When it comes to books, I don't really have a favourite genre as I can pretty much read anything. I basically went for this book as it had won an award so I wanted to see what the fuss was about.
The book is narrated by Matthew Homes, a schizophrenic struggling with the death of his brother, who passed away when Matthew was a young boy.

Although we don't find out how his brother, Simon, died until around page 250, we presume from the very beginning that Matthew witnessed his death which is why he is so torn up about it and just can't seem to let it go.

The present day Matthew is in a mental hospital, suffering with schizophrenia, but the book goes back and forth to different points in Matthew's life - in no chronological order. 

There's no denying that Filer's writing style is genius. He manages to portray the mind of someone with schizophrenia perfectly, but this is why the book can get a bit muddled at times as the narrator constantly goes off on a tangent. The narrative jumps around throughout the novel; switching from when Matthew was a little boy to his teenage years to him as an adult, without much warning. But I realise this is necessary to highlight how irrational the narrators thoughts can be, and that he can't really control what goes around his mind.

Matthew Homes, the protagonist of the novel, is an unreliable narrator which is a device I do enjoy but, at times, you're left wondering if his accounts of what has happened are actually correct or not.
The beauty of the book, for me, is that you genuinely do feel like Matthew is telling you his story - not just an author portraying a character - and whilst his story is haunting and hard-hitting at times, it still has elements of humour.

Expect to be both upset and uplifted by The Shock Of The Fall as, although it tells the tale of a young man battling such a soul destroying disease, the narrator still manages to appreciate the beauty of the smaller things in life.

Overall, I did find the book a bit of a slow burner at times as I kind of expected it to be filled with suspense and action, based on the synopsis. I think, knowing it's won an award can often fill you with too high expectations, as well. However, it's not like anything I've ever read before and I enjoyed Filer's unique and quirky writing style. I also did find myself genuinely caring about the character and wanting to help him which is always a sign that the book has drawn you in successfully, in my eyes. 
Buy it here.

Are you planning on reading more this year? I'd love to know! Feel free to leave me book recommendations in the comments as I'll be on the look out for lots of new reads this year...

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  1. Ooh I'm excited to read this now. I definitely think when a book has an award you have high expectations, although before reading your review I had no idea what this book was about, now I guess I've got more of an idea so can hopefully understand it a bit better. Looking forward to reading it and seeing how I find it. Christmas drinks/food at Costa is like the highlight of my year, they're just so good! I am always in my PJs as well. Love this post can relate to basically all of them!

    Emma x
    Writing Essays With Wine

  2. It's definitely worth a read :) haha I wish I could just be in pjs 24/7 tbh :) xx

  3. It is a good read just very different! x


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