Book Reviews

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All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld

By Amelia van der Rijt

Jake Whyte is a young woman trying to escape the scarring of her past. Born in Australia, she now farms sheep on a remote British island with only her dog for company. But every few nights, something picks off one of her sheep. As the present moves forwards and Jake fights to protect herself and her sheep, her past moves backwards, breaking through the story and revealing her secrets. All the Birds, Singing is beautifully written, and will likely leave you with more questions than answers. Its slow-reveal technique will both frustrate you while drawing you in, and it is this technique that makes the story so engaging.

5/5

 

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BEAUTIFUL YOU BY CHUCK PALAHNIUK

By Jack Cameron Stanton

Author of Fight Club and cult-writing legend Chuck Palahniuk delivers another shocking story in Beautiful You, which has polarised his readers. Those who praise it consider the work avant-garde and contrarian, while its critics only see crassness and misogyny. Having read a few Palahniuk novels, I would say that Beautiful You is for die-hard Palahniuk fans – basically, it’s one of those style over substance books released by an author who has ‘made it’. The normality of Penny Harrigan, an average looking office worker, capsizes after she catches the interest of billionaire C. Linus Maxwell, who selects Penny as subject for his sexual experimentations. Quite frankly, the whole impending-doom-by-irresistible-sex-toys premise didn’t do it for me.

2/5

 

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Amnesia by Peter Carey

Amelia van der Rijt

In our technologically-driven society, Amnesia forces us to question whether we can appreciate the full extent of our cyber actions. Gaby Bailleux’s Angel Worm has infiltrated the computer system which controls over a thousand Australian prisons. It’s released the locks. The US prison systems are also affected, and now there are concerns that Gaby will be spirited away by US authorities. Amnesia opens a discussion about cyber responsibilities and international relationships in an Australian context. The premise is engaging, but the novel so intensely Australian that it is difficult to read without a strong background in Australian history and politics. If you read this novel, bring your thinking cap.

3/5

 

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INFINITE JEST by DAVID FOSTER WALLACE

Jack Cameron Stanton

The legacy of David Foster Wallace’s postmodern tour de force outshines any of his other writings. Basically, Wallace’s masterpiece operates as a literary puzzle, in which every anecdote, philosophical digression, or narrative twist involves you in profound and meaningful ways. In this novel, we come to understand Wallace as a tortured yet hopeful genius, far beyond his time in regards to intellect and style. Ostensibly, the story follows multiple storylines, including Hal Incandenza, a young and aspiring tennis star, a halfway house for drug addicts, and enigmatic videotape supposedly so entertaining that anybody who views it instantly dies from infinite jest.

5/5