Review: The Indian by Jon Gnarr

Written by the ex-mayor of Reykjavik, Jon Gnarr, The Indian follows his early life, studies the way he has lived and shows how hard it is to be different. He has never known what most people define as normal, and that’s good.

The book opens with a little introduction to the Icelandic alphabet, so one does not wonder how to pronounce some names and words. This is good to have as the book includes quite a few, at first, tricky names that are initially hard to read but as the book progresses, it gets just as if you read names like Stefan, Sam, Sarah etc.

When you first look into Gnarr’s history, it’s beguiling to think he does not care about people’s opinion and his career seems as an example of this. However, in The Indian Jon shows a vivid, and unsettling, portrayal of a person who is like a fish out of water, diverging from what others perceive as ‘normal’. His childhood is not what would usually be considered as troubled, not really, but it is hard to feel this as it is grim and yet relentlessly fun and relatable. The inability to fit amongst the others, both his classmates and his family, is easy to read about but hard to get through if you have ever been a misfit. The situations that occur are somewhat similar though distinctive in its own way.

“What they thought ‘normal’ was a mystery to me; I don’t see it until someone else tells me.”

The novel is not fiction, but it is not completely non-fiction either. The author himself states it in the beginning. What the book is a recollection of what he remembers and what others have told him. Reading it, I could say I thought everything happening in the book is credible and not far-fetched. Exactly what may seem as an exaggeration, I feel, is the complete, unbeautified and utter truth. The decision to include notes from psychotherapists is clever and enhances the realistic feel of The Indian. Many of these notes say what you feel and think explicitly as you read the novel.

The Indian by Jon Gnarr is a novel about self-discovery in a world where being different is of no good. It is an ingenious and bleak book, cleverly exploring the life of a ginger misfit, with writing that seamlessly blends Jon Gnarr’s comedic abilities with an emotional connection that results in a need to learn everything there is to know about the boy who didn’t fit in his surroundings and wanted to become an Indian.

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Review: Outlander by Diana Gabbledon

Written in the early nineties, Outlander by Diana Gabbledon is older than I am. With the television show which premiered on Starz last summer, the series spiked my interest. After seeing the first episode I was hooked, but decided to read the book first. As months went by I finally picked it up few days ago.

Outlander, or Cross-Stitch as it was originally published, centres around Claire Randall — a nurse during World War II who, after the war ends, goes on a honeymoon with her husband(Jack Randall) to Scotland. There, after a series of events, she falls through time and goes back about 200 years and is forced to make the best out of a situation I would never survive. What follows is an incredible adventure involving history, romance, action and sex. All the spices needed for a gripping read.

The author puts the main character though tough situations like attempted rape, murder, suspicion of being a spy. Although having a slow start, the first book in the series picks up pace really fast and thus becoming a page-turner. Some chapters are slower than others but that’s due to fantastic build-up and beguiling character development. At almost 900 pages, Outlander is quite hard not to be intimidating knowing there are seven more books in the series. But then again, same goes for Game of Thrones.

Though marketed as a romance in the beginning because the publisher did not know how to do it otherwise, the novel is much more than simple romance. Being historical fiction, there are many things one could learn from reading it about England, Scotland and France. Of course, it is not perfectly accurate though if that was the case, it wouldn’t be nowhere near as thrilling and suspenseful. Outlander jumps into deep lengths, exploring some very mature themes and is quite dark and gritty at times. It is not recommended for people who can’t stand graphic depictions of violence and sex.

Diana Gabbledon’s writing is so addicting and beautiful, you can hardly stop reading. In addition, the many twists and turns make Outlander much more than a simple time-travel romance. With complex and powerful storylines, terrific character development and exceptional world-building, it is perfect for fans of Game of Thrones.

 

REVIEW: Another Day by David Levithan — the bad, redundant companion

Thee years ago, David Levithan, author of numerous contemporary novels, put out  a book called Every Day. It was met with criticism; some loved it, others hated it, I didn’t care. The book was not enjoyable, but not worthy of being loathed — it had shortcomings, but they were not that many.

Today the sequel/companion that was never supposed to materialise in flesh is out. And it’s bad. Desultory and tedious, Another Day tells the pretty much same story of Every Day, however, this time through another character’s eyes — Rhiannon’s.

Never have I been a fan of alternate point-of-view stories, but as the publisher sent this to me I decided to give it a try. Pushed myself to like it, but it was hard to get through this one. The writing is good, but it, alone, cannot save the book. The emotional pull that Every Day conveyed is gone and, maybe because I know how the story unravels, Rhiannon is not a riveting center of attention.The book ends on a cliffhanger, which makes me dread the worst — that an actual sequel may come out in the future.

On the whole, Another Day is a book with great writing, but barely has any other redeeming qualities, which can make me recommend this one. Nevertheless, if you have yet to read Every Day, you might enjoy this one. It will probably have some gravitas if you do not already know the story.

Rating:
2.5/5 stars