Someone Like Me by M.R. Carey

Posted On 12 November 2018

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Woman wearing a red hoodie by a river

Woman wearing a red hoodie by a river

Someone Like Me is such a difficult book to review.  I don’t want to give away spoilers or ruin the read for others and whilst that might sound like a bunch of excuses I mean it most sincerely.  It would be like somebody telling you the ending to The Sixth Sense and completely spoiling the final reveal, you know that feeling, where you finish something and then you have to start casting back asking questions, looking for missed breadcrumbs or clues – that’s what this book makes you do.  I mean, in fairness, this isn’t so much a final reveal as a bunch of reveals – but still, the sentiment remains the same.  Check out the blurb for the book and the cover even – they’re a pair of sneaky suckers aren’t they?  They’re giving nothing away and neither am I.  I think the biggest clue that we have here is in the title – and I realise I’m being evasive and the title could mean a number of things but there is a clue in there – of course it’s easy for me to say that now, all superior like, with the benefit of having read the book, but that’s all I’ve got.  Read the book. Go on.  Do it.

MR Carey is such a great author.  I love that his books are never what you expect or more to the point they’re all so completely different that you actually don’t even know what to expect in the first place.  It would be difficult to ever put this author in any particular category.  I like that in my favourite authors – pigeon-hole immunity.  Mr Carey has that in spades.  Obviously it helps that his writing is excellent too but picking up one of his books is almost unnerving because you just don’t know what it’s going to be about and the sense of anticipation is quite delicious.

What I can say is I loved this.  It made for compulsive reading and I read it in two days which for a book that sits at just over 500 pages is some going.  I mean this wasn’t just compulsive, it was nail bitingly good.  All the cliches – name them – I couldn’t put it down, I read into the early hours, I was on the edge of my seat.  Yes, yes, yes.  All of those things and then some.

So, what can I safely tell you.

Well, the book follows two main characters.  Two characters with two things in common.  Firstly, they’ve both suffered traumatic events.  Secondly, they both share the same therapist.

Liz is a divorced mother of two.  Her ex husband is manipulative and controlling and he used to use Liz as his own personal punch bag.  She’s a likable character, her neighbours and colleagues rally around her and her two children adore her.  She can come across as a little bit weak but to be honest the gradual spiral into domestic violence that her relationship eventually took would be enough to wear anyone down.  Starting with mental abuse and eventually becoming physical it took a lot for Liz to finally walk away and in fact she really took the step to protect her children, not herself.

Fran is a teenage girl.  When she was a little girl she was abducted by a man named Picota and was missing for a couple of days before the police found her.  Her abductor is now held in a state facility after being deemed mentally unstable.  Fran still suffers a great deal from the attack experiencing nightmares and hallucinations.  She has an imaginary friend named Jinx, a protector and cartoon character from an old favourite show about knights and codes of honour.  I think everyone is going to love Jinx.  Trust me on this one.

There are a number of other significant characters.  Liz’s ex husband Marc for example, the children, Fran’s father, the therapist and what really worked for me is how well the dynamics are between them all.  They’re believable characters.  They’re relatable.  They’re imperfect.  They have typical lives, some of the time quite bland but they’re basically getting on with living – it’s almost like you’re reading about the normal lives of normal people but before you get too comfortable (aka just as you’re getting comfortable) Carey pops in a little seed of something different and before you know it it’s grown into something else that’s totally unexpected and chilling and you have to read more, you have to know what’s going to happen next, things have gone to hell in a handcart in fairly short order and you really didn’t see it coming – and there doesn’t seem to be a light at the end of the tunnel.  Send help.  And who is this other character who I shall not mention?

I’m not really sure what else I can tell you.  This is partly mystery, partly thriller, partly magical realism.  It’s subtle and unusual.  The writing is excellent, the pacing is good and the ending is tense.  I wouldn’t say the concept is totally unique, I’ve read or watched similar things but to be honest this one takes the idea in it’s own direction and one that I didn’t foresee.

I think if you’re expecting a straight up, no nonsense, no para-normal elements type of read then this might not be for you – although, I would say, cast aside any pre-determined notions and give it a shot anyway.  It’s a really great story and it defied my attempts at second guessing what was going on.  I  started out thinking maybe this was a look at mental health issues, I had a moment of maybe thinking it’s a ‘what if/Sliding Doors’ type of story but I eventually realised that whilst both of those have a part in the story they’re not the complete picture.

I’m sorry if this isn’t helpful.  All I can hope that you take from this review is that I thoroughly loved reading this and I hope you will too.

I received a copy through Netgalley, courtesy of the publisher, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

 

 

 

 

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The Boy on the Bridge (The Girl With All the Gifts #2) by M.R. Carey #SpooktasticReads

Spook

mage credit: Photo by Mark Tegethoff on Unsplash

theboyThe Boy on the Bridge is my final review for Wyrd and Wonder’s SpooktasticReads event.  I’ve loved the inspiration that this event has given me to read all sorts of creepy, spooky or chilling reads and The Boy on the Bridge fits in perfectly because whilst this isn’t a scary read as such it is about a post apocalyptic world, overrun with Hungries (think zombies) and the potential extinction of the human race.

I genuinely don’t know how to start this review so I’m going to go with my overall feeling upon finishing.  Wow.  The end of this book was nothing short of amazing, I kid you not, it gave me goosebumps and set my mind racing.  I can’t deny that part way through the read I was thinking that this couldn’t possible top or match The Girl With All the Gifts.  To an extent having already read book 1, and this being described by some as a companion novel or prequel to that book, you expect to have lost the element of surprise, and that much is true with regard to the plague (for want of a better word), but in spite of that there’s a gripping story as we follow a number of people, scientists and soldiers, as they travel the country, cooped up in an armoured vehicle and just wait for heads to start to butt.  Definitely a few great character studies here and some desperate struggles along the way.  However, with Book 1 in mind you can’t help trying to put together the pieces of how everything fits together and obviously you’re more than well aware of what the real threat really is – and it isn’t the hungries per se.  On reflection I actually think that’s part of the beauty of this book.  Misdirection.  Whilst you’re reading with the first book in mind, thinking ‘how does this person fit into what comes later’, the author is pulling the rug out from under your feet because the eventual conclusion to this story – and I won’t spoil things so don’t worry – actually jumps forward in time. It’s totally not what I expected and I was most happily surprised.

So, what does this book bring to the table?  Well, as mentioned there’s this claustrophobic story as we watch a team of people fall apart slowly but surely.  There’s betrayal and conspiracy, chases and death along the way. We have an unexpected event that plays a central role which I won’t discuss and obviously there’s the desperate attempt to find a cure – which actually becomes the catalyst for a couple of other events – which again, I can’t really elaborate upon without spoiling.  Oh dear, how to write a review when everything you want to discuss involves spoilers.  Look, I’m not going to be that person, the one who spoils the read for others so I’m going to move on to some other thoughts instead.

One of my favourite books, and quite possibly the book that was the inspiration for so many later zombie stories, is I am Legend.  The ending of that book is also, for me, jaw dropping and amazing and well, all sorts of other things that I can’t even put into words.  Now, clearly this is just my interpretation but The Boy on the Bridge is an odyssey to survival that gives a little nod in the direction of I am Legend .  Again, it’s really difficult to say what I want to say without spoilers but I just loved the way this concludes and without doubt it changed a 4 star read into a 5 star read for me.  I love endings that make me think and I now find myself in a whirlwind of emotions and thoughts as I try to backtrack through both books in an attempt to place all my thoughts in order because basically, the ending to this changes everything else.  That is all.  Is that a big enough teaser to make you pick it up – I hope so.

Anyway, I have no doubt that this is quite possibly the most annoying review I’ve ever written, not to mention frustrating and even medal award winning in being the only review ever to use about 800 words saying very little at all.  With the benefit of hindsight you could have stopped reading after that ‘wow’ in the second paragraph.

The TL:DR version is this:  read The Girl With All the Gifts, take a moment and then, read The Boy on the Bridge.  It’s that easy.  I’ll even throw in a pretty please for good measure.

For information, both books are standalone novels but personally I would suggest it’s necessary to read both, and in the order of release, in order to gain the best from both.

Where I got a copy: bought (this was the audio version and it was very well done).