The Children Act by Ian McEwan

The Children Act – Reviewed by SD
The Children Act Ian McEwan‘The Children Act’ is written by an English writer; Ian McEwan. I decided to read the book because, although it doesn’t say much about the plot in the blurb, I figured it would be insightful and different than the usual books I read.

The book is about an older woman; Fiona Maye, who is a High-Court Judge who specializes in Family Law. It begins when her husband tells her he is interested in another woman.

But the main plot of ‘The Children Act’ is that a young seventeen-year-old boy; Adam, who is suffering from leukaemia is refusing a blood transplant as he is a Jehovah’s Witness, as are his parents. Fiona must make the ultimate decision as the Judge for this case. Fiona forms a connection with the boy as it is a distraction to her life and that she could never have children.

To be honest, I didn’t really enjoy the book myself. I think the story is insightful and interesting but maybe for an older audience than me. Perhaps some might relate to Fiona and enjoy the writer’s style better than I did. Although I do think character-wise, the book was good and it gives a different perspective into Jehovah’s Witnesses’ religion but I did struggle to read ‘The Children Act’.

 

It took a while to get into the story, in my opinion and the plot was a little basic for me. In general, I enjoy adventurous, action-packed books. This book wasn’t for me but that doesn’t mean others won’t like it. Ian McEwan is clearly an intelligent, descriptive writer and he put the book together well.

Young Skins by Colin Barrett

Young Skins – Reviewed by SD

Young Skins by Colin BarrettSet in the small fictional town Glanbeigh, Co. Mayo, in ‘Young Skins’ the reader will meet characters such as Val; a bouncer at a nightclub, Bat; a greasy biker, Eli and Doran; two ex-band members and two marijuana sellers. The book has won numerous awards, including the 2014 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and the 2014 Rooney Prize for Irish Literature. ‘Young Skins’ is the first collection of short stories by Colin Barrett. It is published by ‘The Stinging Fly’ who encourages new Irish writers and promotes short stories.

The book consists of 7 short stories- ‘The Clancy Kid’ which is about two friends on their way and not much happens in this one but it is a good introductory story and the reader can get a taste for Barrett’s style of writing. ‘Bait’ is about two friends; Matteen and Teddy. Matteen is the best pool player in town but he is caught up with a girl. This story has a great unexpected twist in the end. ‘The Moon’ is about a bouncer who is dating a young girl, there isn’t much to the man’s life. It consists of routine. ‘Stand Your Skin’ is about an anti-social, greasy man and his interaction with a young teenage girl and a college student. ‘Calm With Horses’ is about two drug sellers. One is sort of the “bodyguard”, being the best boxer in the town but their business takes a turn for the worst. ‘Diamonds’ is about a man in AA and this story makes reference to the title of the book. Then, ‘Kindly Forget My Existence’ is about two ex-band members who sit in a bar, debating whether to attend Marianne’s funeral; the girl they both loved.

My favorite story in the book was ‘Calm With Horses’. It is action-packed and very well put together. It is the longest story in the book but it is well worth it. I really liked all the characters in this story. One being a great father and a kind “old dear” regardless of the deathly situation she is in. The ending of this story is great; I also really enjoyed ‘Kindly Forget My Existence’ as I loved the characters and their interaction with the bar-man. It was also somehow humorous.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Young Skins’. It’s the first Irish book I’ve read and the writer was great, he was very descriptive and visual. I found the stories quite dark as some related to addiction and death but it wasn’t at all dull, regardless. I would recommend the book to anyone as I think anyone would enjoy it. It is very entertaining from start to finish. Irish people will love the Irish areas and the Irish accents.

 

 

Buried Giant – Book Review

The Buried Giant – Reviewed by JR

Buried Giant Kazuo IshiguroKazuo Ishiguro’s latest novel is set in an almost mythical version of medieval England. The Brits & the Saxons enjoy a largely peaceful coexistence brought on by a mysterious mist which has descended on the land and caused the past to become covered in a haze or forgotten altogether.

The story follows an elderly couple who must leave there village and visit their son in another part of the land. Along the way they become acquainted with an orphaned boy and a warrior and become entwined in a quest to kill the she-dragon the cause of the mist.

The Buried Giant begins as a hugely atmospheric novel as we encounter Axl and a frustrated Beatrice as she tries to hang on to the past and the memories of their married life together. Axl on the other hand can see the advantages of an obscured view of the past as when everything is remembered it will be for the bad as well as the good. Beatrice on the other hand imagines that their life will be like a story which you know will have a happy ending.

Towards the middle of the book it begins to drag as the different sides are set out against each other to defeat the dragon. It is worth persevering though as the final few chapters deliver a nice gentle twist which brings everything together and makes the novel worthwhile in what it tells about human nature and our relationship with the past. The final couple of pages are among the most moving I have ever read. It is up there alongside Ishiguro’s other great allegorical tale Never Let Me Go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Girl On The Train – Book Review

Girl On The Train

Girl On The Train

The Girl On The Train – Reviewed by SD

The Girl On The Train follows the story from the eyes of three women. Particularly Rachel; an alcoholic who is obsessed with her ex-husband; Tom. She calls him regularly and is spotted outside his house on several occasions but Tom and his wife Anna could be less interested. Despite this, Rachel is a lovely and understandable character who we would hope will get their happy ending.

 

Rachel takes the train every day and it stops at a red signal where she watches a wife and husband who she doesn’t know. She becomes obsessed with their lives, she calls them Jess and Jason. They have the life she wishes she had, perhaps the life she once had. But the story is thrown straight into action when Megan Hipwell, A.K.A Jess, goes missing. Rachel tries so desperately to play a part in this case. Slowly but surely, the case unravels. Where is Megan? Who is she?

 
The book is fast-moving and gripping from start to finish. The Girl On The Train is a page-turner and it will have the reader eager to see what’s next, always on the edge of suspense. The mystery unravels beautifully and delicately with many likeable characters. There are so many twists and turns that will have the reader guessing the whole way through and gasping after some chapters, it is the type of story that will stick with you for some time. I highly recommend this book and I would love to read more from the author after having read this book.