Dearest readers, this post will be in english seeing as I'm going to post something in english later on in this blogpost and there must be order and stuff like that. Hope that's alright and now I'll dig right into it. Not so long ago I read a book called "The Suicide Club" and I LOVED it, I underlined great sentences, were on the edge of my seat and put on the "shelf of awesomeness" as soon as I finished it, meaning that it at this point in time stands beside my six other favorite books ever on a shelf. And then I wrote this post about it: http://akimamontgomery.blogg.no/1278790408_the_suicide_club_av_r.html and now something epic has happened. It just so happened that the authors (Rhys Thomas) publishers came across my review and awesomely enough they translated it to english so that Rhys Thomas (who is british if I'm not totally mislead in some way or another) could read it. And that alone is EPIC! Then they contacted me on Facebook telling me about all this and also telling me that they were willing to send Rhys Thomas newest book to me. So far so good and this last sunday I found a message from Rhys Thomas himself on Facebook where he thanked me for my review and asked for my mail-address so he could send me the english translation so that I could post it on my blog. Then he would link to it on his Facebook-page and on his blog meaning more exposure for my dear www.akimamontgomery.blogg.no, something that is a great bonus in my opinion. And I sent him my mail-address, got the translation attached to a mail I got and he asked me to send my address so that they can send his newest book to me free of charge. So it's totally EPIC WIN! all the way. Getting in touch with a cool author that is really thankful for my review, getting a book for free soon (that I'd already decided that I at some point would have to read seeing as I'm planning to read EVERYTHING Rhys Thomas ever publishes), exposure for my blog; in short everything is epic about it and all I did was review a book I really loved 😉
And now I'm going to post the english translation of my post about "The Suicide Club", enjoy!
"Call me Ishmael. Apparently, you have to have a good line to start a book so I stole that one from Moby-Dick, which is a book about a whale that I've never read."
So begins The Suicide Club by Rhys Thomas and from this epic start it only goes uphill (and also downhill, but in a whole other way which I?ll come back to). And I am so glad that I bought this book, which I did for just one reason, namely that a character in the book writes a note to the main character in the book in which it says "My mother says I'm not allowed to speak to you anymore" and then the main character answers by writing on the note "Are you going to listen to her?? and she responds by drawing the two of them like Eskimos and writing underneath "Eskimo Friends" and earlier in the book it has turned out that is the name of her gang and so she has drawn something that means that she wants them to continue to meet. And I?m explaining myself really badly but it is a really sweet drawing which is actually in the book too as an illustration, almost to create the illusion that perhaps this is not pure and simple fiction and it is such a moment that shines with naivety and a beautiful childlike harmony, something the book otherwise doesn?t exactly have so much of.
And I LOVE this book (and it feels almost slightly wrong to love a book with a title like this, but I can?t do anything about that), and I?m going to talk more about it in a way that may seem long and subjective and with a badly hidden agenda that what I want most of all is that YOU, dear reader, will run to the train or the tube or to a horse and carriage for its sake, so that you get yourself to Norli bookshop in the centre of Oslo and buy this book at once (or order it on the net and or put it on your must-read list or whatever). It is absolutely the coolest, loveliest, most intense and engaging book that I have read all year long.
The Suicide Club is author Rhys Thomas?s debut novel and this is the synopsis on the back cover:Craig Bartlett-Taylor was always trying to kill himself, but when he took an overdose at the back of Mrs Kenna's classroom, Richie thought he'd finally succeeded: it was a real-life Worst Case Scenario. But then the new kid, Freddy, steps in and saves Craig's life, and for Richie the lure of this mysterious newcomer is irresistible. Freddy is like nobody Richie has ever met. Dark, sardonic and dangerous, he gives flight to Richie's imagination, introducing him to a way of life he'd never thought possible.But when a night-time prank goes gut-wrenchingly wrong, Richie begins to question Freddy's motives, and all too soon he finds himself committed to a sinister pact, with inescapably tragic consequences. It's true that Freddy saved a life – but could he take one, too? With great wit and an unflinching eye for the muddle and drama of adolescence, "The Suicide Club" is a pitch-perfect portrait of teenage disaffection that sets boy against boy, imagination against reason – and, ultimately, life against death.
I can?t actually tell you too much more about the plot because I want you to experience this book for yourselves and besides that, it?s the type of book which one doesn?t love because of what happens in it but because of the writing style and how intense it is. Because it is intense. I read an awful lot, but I have not experienced the type of experience that this book gave me in a long time, maybe never. It was so intense that I underlined beautiful passages and sentences (of which there are loads), wrote notes in the margin when something extra fascinating happened and all told it was so amazing and engaging that it was almost indescribable. I had major problems putting the book to one side because something was happening in it the whole time and that?s not to say that there was masses of action, but that there was such a murmur about the book (if one can use such a word about a book). As I said, it was intense and in such a way that even when quite daily occurrences are being related, other gruesome things are also happening like people committing suicide and a guy killing the school?s mascot (an eagle) and it is so dramatic the whole time, but it?s done in such a fashion that it makes an even stronger impression because it?s told in the same manner as the book?s less dramatic moments, and that lends such a simplicity to the book which at the same time is both sexy and exciting and makes everything so alive and moreover so genuine. I hope people understand what I mean as I feel it?s really hard to write about this book since it meant so much to me but at the same time it deserves to be talked about, it deserves obsessing over and its own fan sites and masses of attention. It?s just so good.
The book?s main character is a young guy called Richard Harper and he tells the story in the first person and I think this is great as I like the first person narrative in books a lot (even if I am actually better at writing things in the third person myself) and Richard Harper becomes so genuine and alive for me that it was almost scary; he is in any case absolutely one of the most realistic characters I have read about and that may have something to do with how self-analytical and thoughtful he is. Here we have a character that does stupid things, certain things he doesn?t mean to do, who acts before he thinks, and he recognises this in himself but can?t stop himself, and that is so easy to relate to. That even if you don?t necessarily do so many stupid things yourself, if you are too sensible, whatever way you express what you?re thinking it will sound stupid in any case, because that?s how it comes out in words and so you may regret it and think that it would have been much better if you had just kept your mouth shut. This feeling is so well expressed that it makes you have so much sympathy for Richard Harper even if he makes choices that you feel are so wrong that you want to scream at him to leave it alone. He is basically so human and has so much self-doubt, he wonders whether he actually is bad and analyses himself the whole time and that just makes him so human, so totally human that it?s almost painful, but most of all engaging and emotional.
Here are some parts of the book which show how epic it is (with small commentaries in brackets):
"Little cotton-wool balls of cloud were in the sky and I knew that the day was going to turn into one of those days that you look back on because something magical happens and it gets ingrained into your memory. Nothing ever happens on such days; there's just something in the air, you know?"
(I think that?s so great because it?s so easy to recognise and I?ve really thought that myself before)
"I returned to my window and looked down to the patio. I wondered what would happen if my skeleton fell limply on to it. It would take only a few seconds, perhaps less. The act of jumping would be instantaneous – that's all it would take; a snap decision, over in an instant. I had no intention of actually doing it, of course, but it started me thinking. Is killing yourself a slow steady climb, a decision reached by degrees? Or just an opportunity meeting a circumstance – the right place at the right time? One moment of madness or clarity and it could all be over, surely. I looked long and hard at the patio, at the lines running at right angles to one another between the slabs."
(What I like here is how it describes a situation when you are sitting and looking at something you?ve seen a thousand times before but it inspires new thoughts and it?s just such experiences that make the most recognisable things feel completely new)
"The whole room was turning like those slow-motion cameras that photograph the stars wheeling in the sky over the course of a whole night."
"I'm glad I still feel the pain because it reinforces the fact that I'm still human, but I don't feel any happiness any more. That end of the spectrum is closed to me now."
(So sad but at the same time I recognise the thought that you can feel happy about having feelings at all, even if they are unpleasant ones, as they show that you?re human, but that may be because I?m not particularly emotional, I hardly ever cry and I can seem colder than I am because inside feelings aren?t necessarily visible on the outside. And it?s a little bit that way with Richard Harper in the book too: he?s full of feelings but sometimes he isn?t able to show them and therefore seems more apathetic than he really is)
"His words were so lucid they flowed over me like syrup. All of the others were now staring at their sheets of paper like they were in a trance. I took my friends in, one by one, a turn of the head for each of them. Their faces flickered in the candlelight, each in their own little world. My head spun a little with the vodka and nicotine. I forgot that I was holding the cigarette in my left hand and, as I looked at it's sulphuric embers and at the smoke washing up, out, twirling, spinning, pirouetting into the sky with the cryptic symbolism that I would never know but would always feel, I looked upon the opening line of Freddy's paper: The Official Charter of the Suicide Club."
(I think this description of the cigarette is so beautiful, so original that I melt a little every time I read it)
"The air was cool and refreshing, the clouds low and threatening rain. The wind was up and it felt like the whole atmosphere was writhing with life, like it was desperate to, I don't know, do something. Like it was restless. Just like me."
(At the same time that this is poetic and creates amazing images, it?s also so natural and wonderful, the whole book has this combination and it makes for a really magical reader experience)
"Added to this, I loved his philosophy. I know at our age lots of people spout their teenage musings, and there was an element of that to Freddy, but it didn't dampen the impact of what he said. What he believed ang true in me. He saw the world as a beautiful, poetic place where anything was possible, just as long as you didn't let anything get you down. If you looked into his tunnel of belief you didn't have to worry about what was going on to the right and the left. There was no room for explanation, for science, for coldness. Humans couldn't be explained."
(So wonderfully written)
"It was one of those nights where the air seems heavier than normal, like it's pregnant with rain."
"I kept looking at the water in my glass. There were two bubbles stuck to the bottom. I watched them closely. At last one of them set itself free and headed for the surface. As soon as it went. its friend joined it and they scorched for the surface, wobbling as they went to their inevitable deaths."
(Wow! This reminds me of how I feel I can see something and so stare intensely at a pattern on a wall or something, it?s like something you can see yourself reflected in, but you can?t put it into words, and yet here it is. A good vibe or something)
And I could quote a whole load more of the book because it?s so quotable and so full of original sentences, but I can?t quote the whole book because that would be a bit too much so I?ll leave it be with the excerpts I?ve given and talk more instead a bit about other aspects of the book. I?ve mentioned that is brilliantly written, has a main character that I became completely engaged with and that it?s extremely intense, but it?s more than that too. It gives me the feeling that I?ve been involved in something that wasn?t totally safe and that was so exciting. If you are so into a book when you are reading, it?s a bit like a trance, and then when you put the book to one side you have to blink a few times before coming back to reality. Another interesting thing was that it is one of the most depressing books I have read as it starts with a near suicide and just goes downhill from there as I?ve mentioned. Things seem to be more or less hopeless, but there is just a sliver of hope and even if the ending isn?t exactly 100% idyllic it seems as though things are getting better and that?s great. In that way it actually becomes a really optimistic book as there is light on the horizon and even if things aren?t going to get completely perfect it means that the book becomes extra realistic because that?s the way things are. Things work out as a rule, however hopeless everything can seem, and at the same time the world doesn?t ever suddenly seem like a fantastic place. The world is a combination of good things and bad things and it?s a case of meeting the positive with a smile and the negative with the hope that things will get better, because after all you at least have hope and that?s better than nothing. And I was actually a little bit worried about the ending of the book because it?s anything but a predictable book and you could never see how it would end, but I love the ending (even if I hate it a little because in the end it is an end and I think there is something depressing about finishing a book you really like), it feels so right in a way and I love that in a book.
In addition the book really seems about everything that is young and that is perhaps the only negative thing about it in that it contains references to things which are here and now, and will not necessarily seem current say in twenty years? time, so it could be that it will later will outdated. But I liked the popular references and I liked how the book was at times so realistic in its young people?s speech and style, like it could have been in a blog or something, that was in any case to my taste. I also love the character of Toby (and that has nothing to do with youth speech or anything like what I?ve just been talking about, but it was just another thing I wanted to mention).
So I don?t have much more to say other than to underline how I?m using the world ?love? a lot now, but it is actually the right word to use for The Suicide Club by Rhys Thomas, a little like how I discovered Spring Awakening last year, and how there was a feeling that we belonged together in some way. I don?t know when I will read The Suicide Club again, but I know that I will always remember it for the magical experience it gave me and how it made me feel extra alive, like when you have wind in your hair, it was that kind of experience in book form and gave that impression. So this long, winding piece has tried to put into words something that feels impossible to put into words because it?s so special. And I will read more by Rhys Thomas, he?s now one of my favourite writers and I?m so happy that I found this book in Norli. There are some small things you could criticise but the good things are so good. What a great book. Imagine that if I could one day write something that gives someone the same feelings that The Suicide Club gave me, then the world would be perfect! (Insert daydream about writerly epicness here?)
And the conclusion is Rhys Thomas is one of the coolest persons imagineable (well worth reading books by and equally worth obsessing about) and I'm a lucky girl!