Announcement and Contemporary Rec: The Raw-Shark Texts by Steven Hall

The announcement is a simple one: Three posts a week. Saturday night is for what I'm calling Midnight recs. Basically, genre fun. Books and movies that may otherwise go ignored that are good for a fun, campy Saturday night. Back to the regularly scheduled blogging.
Contemporary Rec: The Raw-Shark Texts by Steven Hall Good writing trumps all, including gimmicks. The book opens with a man waking up not knowing anything about his life. He finds a letter that seems to indicate that he's not the first person to fall into his particular identity. His psychiatrist believes he has a rare dissociative disorder, but the packages and letters from the previous body resident don't agree. A strange concept that only gets stranger with each subsequent page.
What Steven Hall did was take this bizarre idea and make it work. The characters are engaging, which kept me reading when I started to get lost in the details (they all add up in the end, don't worry about that). The mystery is parsed out in small bits throughout the novel. My mind jumped at every possible clue and tried to decipher the code. Rarely was I correct. Rarely was I wrong. Nothing is quite as it seems at any point in the book, and nothing is left with a concrete answer. Steven Hall captured the confusion of modern communications with a unique narrative that goes from suspense to comedy to romance to mystery to horror and back again throughout.
The climax of the book scared me. A lot. Which surprised me, since the climax was what stopped me from picking up the book when it was first released. There's word art in the book that seems cheesy, almost gimmicky, unless you actually read it. Then it feels real.
I picked up a handsome edition recently from the Barnes and Noble remainders/returns table for five or six dollars, and it's gorgeous. I've still seen the US hardcover release in stores, though your better bet is the new paperback edition. Your local library should have the book as well. Read it.

Labels: announcement, contemporary rec

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