Monday, 16 December 2013

Mini reviews: dystopian worlds and a hundred year old man

The Testimony
James Smythe

A couple of months ago I joined a book club in London, a book club that reads post-apocalyptic and dystopian fiction. Could a book club get any better? I think only a book club devoted to Wilkie would beat it. Anyway, The Testimony was the second book I read as part of the club although I did not actually go to the meet up *slaps wrist*. I hadn't quite finished the book on the day and it really is one that could be spoiled entirely by someone slipping the events of the ending into discussion. Which, in this case, was bound to happen. 

Even a couple of weeks on, I'm finding it hard to decide how I feel about this book. Perhaps that says it all. Perhaps the fact that I'm still thinking about it two weeks later completely illustrates the impact of this novel. I'm not going to do a synopsis because I think it would be hard to without spoilers but lets just say it is about an 'event' that involves the entire world and humanity's reaction to it. It is a book that definitely encourages DEEP THOUGHTS. Deep thoughts still give me the wibbly wobblys but I actually really enjoyed it here. I think the style and structure (it is written from the point of view of multiple narrators recounting their experiences), contributed to the endless deep thoughts skipping round my brain but also lessened the deep thought headache. Some of the narrators I really connected to and was interested to read what they had to say next. This novel wouldn't work written in any other way. It's power relies on the multiple narration and the inferences that can be made from the individual experiences. 

If you fancy a brilliant piece of dystopia with a side of deep thoughts, I'd highly recommend this. The ending disappointed me somewhat but the reading experience in general is worth having.

The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed out of the Window and Disappeared
Jonas Jonasson

If I did star ratings this book would get top marks. Both my sister and my flat mate had read this book before it made it to my bedside and they both completely adored it so my expectations were pretty high going into it. I was not disappointed. This is a truly entertaining novel, full of giggles, clever references and absurdly brilliant situations. It's also a haven for history geeks. 

The novel tells the story of Allan Karlsson, a hundred year old man (funnily enough), who climbs out of the window in his care home and doesn't look back. Allan has led a remarkable life and has a phenomenal talent for getting himself out of all manner of mischief. He also has a skill for finding mischief. There are two stories making up this novel. The first is Allan's present and the other is Allan's past and they eventually converge when Allan is getting himself out of one last pickle. 

I can't recommend this book enough. It is funny, uplifting and populated with some amazingly imagined characters (I'm a fan of The Beauty, myself). Read it. That's an order (although I think most people have, I'm a bit behind as always). 



  1. That was exactly the situation I was in, when I began the Hundred year old. It was so much fun to read and it is one of my best reads in 2013.

    1. I think it has made it into my top 10, I've not been so entertained in a while.

  2. I've got The Hundred Year Old Man somewhere (my books are still packed up in boxes because we've nowhere near got to the study yet!) - my mum read it earlier in the year and basically said exactly what you've said. I think when it's gloomy January/February and I've managed to find the right box of books, this will be just the thing to get rid of some of the Winter blues.

    1. I'm going to gently encourage you in a forceful kinda way to read it as soon as you can. I'm always get the winter blues and it put such a smile on my face. It's really nice to read something so clever and entertaining and lighthearted at the same time.

  3. Hooray for The Hundred Year Old Man. I thought that book was an absolute delight! I'm so glad you liked it :D

    1. 'Delight' is such a good way to describe it. That is exactly what it is!


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