Saturday, 7 November 2020

My Year in Books 2020: October

Well, not a long post from me today. There's only one book on my October list, I'm afraid. That's not to say that I didn't read any other novels this month (I actually read a lot), but they were almost entirely books that I was reviewing for my radio show or preparing for teaching. It's been a pretty stressful month, but at least I got time to sneak one book in!

In case you're interested, here are my other posts from 2020: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September

The Complex by Michael Walters (2019)

I bought this one to support the publisher, Salt, who were encouraging people to buy ‘just one book’ to help keep them going through difficult times. Ah… I bought three (and I really had to limit myself to just three). The Complex is the first of the three I’ve read so far. Set in what feels like the near future – but with hints that it might be a little bit post-apocalyptic – The Complex begins with a family going on holiday. But that’s a great way to undersell it! The family are Gabrielle, Leo and their son Stefan. They’re travelling to a remote retreat, to stay for a week with Art (someone Gabrielle has worked with), his wife Polly and daughter Fleur. It’s a break that promises luxury and a change to get ‘off Grid’ and away from the ‘Areas’. Before they even get to the resort though, a vague sense of menace starts to pervade the trip. And things just get worse when they get there. The Complex is a nightmarish tale of tech-horror in a semi-dystopian setting. However, what I really liked about it is that this horror and dystopia is never quite explained. This is a book that plays with suggestion, hint and incongruity in a really compelling way. The ill-defined menace is paradoxically tangible and elusive – there’s an excellent scene near the beginning where two characters play tennis (that’s all) and it was one of the most unsettling things I’ve read for a while. Loved this one.

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