Monday, 25 June 2012

Eleven by Mark Watson Review

The review will be free of spoilers and will therefore be quite a general explanation on why I enjoyed this book.

Eleven is premised on some of my favourite concepts: that everyone is connected and that one action can cause an unimaginable chain of events. The idea that everyone is connected is also known as the six degrees of separation and basically means that everyone is, on average, approximately six steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person on Earth. The author makes use of these concepts through one event that scars the main character's, Xavier Ireland, life having an unintentional knock on effect on the lives of 10 other people.

The good 

  • The writing style of the author is fairly casual, chatty and informal
  • The third person narrative allows for much observation and humour to be contained in the text
  • The writer does lay hints for what the life changing event in the main character's life was but are really only noticeable on a second read
  • Following on from that point, to build to the reveal of what started the chain of events the writer litters the present day narrative with 'flashbacks' to the main character's live where he seemed to be, contrastingly, very happy. This helped maintain interest and curiosity over what could have possibly happened to make him lose that life.
  • The book is also littered with crazy little passages, which sort of come out of the blue, like this one after Xavier says goodbye to a woman he met the previous night: "[T]his is the last time they will ever see each other. She will return to Australia in eight months, sleep with ten more people, then meet and marry an orthodontist named Brendon. She will have two children and  work part-time in a tanning salon once they have grown up. She and the orthodontist will retire to Tasmania and die within a few weeks of each other. Xavier watches the cab disappear, a streak in the dark, and turns back to the house."
  • The author does also spend some time with each of the other people in 'the eleven' once the chain passes along to them. Stylistically this may sound odd but it really works in bring clarity to the story progression.
  • Also, without any spoilers, the way that everything culminates in the novel allows Xavier to put his past behind him in a very satisfying way. Although it does also sadly emphasis that well known phrase that you can't go back.

The bad

  • There really is not that many negative things to say about the novel.
  • The main issue I had was it took me quite a few chapters to really get into the novel and empathise with the characters. Certainly I do advise people to push through the slow start because once I did I was completely hooked. I'm not really sure why I felt this way but I imagine it could be that I was not exactly sure where the story was going until Xavier met the person after him in the chain of eleven.
  • My only other complaint, which is a minor one really, is that there were a few characters in 'the eleven' that I would like to have had a little more resolution on.
Overall I thought this was an excellent book which I would definitely recommend which is why I will award in 9/10. 

Thanks for reading! We'd love to know what you think of our blog.

Emma x

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