Saturday, 14 October 2017

Demi-Gods

Author: Eliza Robertson
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Fiction
Type: Paperback
Pages: 229
Source: Publisher
Publisher: Hamish Hamilton (PHRC)
First Published: September 5, 2017
First Line: "On the first morning, Kenneth slept in: Joan buttered toast soldiers for Luke in the kitchen; Patrick and I slurped cornflakes at the table."

Book Description from GoodReadsA bold debut novel for those who loved Emma Cline's The Girls and Rachel Kushner's The Flamethrowers--a story of love, lust, and the spaces in between, from a "captivating" (NYTBR) new voice in fiction.

It is 1950, and nine-year-old Willa's sheltered childhood is about to come to an end when her two new stepbrothers arrive at her family's summer home in British Columbia. As Willa's older sister pairs off with the older of these boys, Willa finds herself alone in the off-kilter company of the younger, Patrick. When, one afternoon, Patrick lures Willa into a dilapidated rowboat, Willa embarks upon an increasingly damaging relationship with Patrick, one that will forever reconfigure her understanding of herself and her place in a menacing, male-dominated world.


Demi-Gods traces the tumultuous years of Willa's coming-of-age, as she is drawn further into Patrick's wicked games. Though they see each other only a handful of times, each of their encounters is increasingly charged with sexuality and degradation. When Willa finally realizes the danger of her relationship with Patrick, she desperately tries to reverse their dynamic, with devastating results.

Daring, singular, and provocative, Demi-Gods explores a girl's attempt to make a life of her own choosing in a world where woman's independence is suspect, a world that threatens to claim a woman's body as a mere object for men's pleasure. A sensitive, playful, and entirely original evocation of the dualities within ourselves and our history, Eliza Robertson's debut novel announces the arrival of one of the most exciting new voices in contemporary literature.
 


My Rating: 2 stars

My Review: Oookay. This is going to go down as one of the most bizarre and uncomfortable books I've ever read. I struggled a lot with Demi-Gods and never felt invested in the slow-moving plot or any of the characters' lives. I did not care one whit for these people. Not a one. 

The focus of the book seemed to be the strange and sexually charged scenes which felt like they were added for shock value to give the book that edgy feel that people will talk about. All that did was left me with an uncomfortable, icky feel and it didn't feel like these scenes even advanced the narrative.

I was also frustrated by the book's lack of focus. Was it Willa? Was it Patrick in relation to Willa? Why don't we get an explanation about why Patrick is the way he is? Why do we miss so much of Willa's life? In the end I was left with so many questions. It felt like readers were only given snapshots into the characters' lives but without any sort of character development or explanation as to how they got to be so messed up. My frustration had me repeatedly putting the book down and taking a breather from it. Not a good sign.

While there were moments of beautiful, descriptive writing about the era and landscape of Western Canada, overall, I was disappointed with this book. It was an odd read, that I continually struggled to get into (never actually attaining that feat). The subject matter was extremely uncomfortable and with its slower pace, anticlimactic ending and characters and events that I couldn't relate to, this just wasn't a book for me.

Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to Hamish Hamilton Books for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

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