Wednesday, 27 April 2011

The Society of Others by William Nicholson (4.5/5)


The back says: He has nowhere to go... so he goes there.

An alienated young man can see no meaning in life. He doesn't even see the point in getting out of bed in the morning. To escape from his family he decides to set off on a hitchhiking adventure across Europe, and is picked up by a friendly lorry driver with an unusual interest in philosophy.

The journey takes him through a violent and Kafkaesque nightmare to a destination that changes his life.

I say: It's been a couple of weeks since I finished this, but it's still gnawing at the back of my head. I don't really know what I was expecting when I ordered this book, just a regular coming of age novel with some sort of a twist.

What I got was something I still can't really explain.

It starts off innocently enough; disillusioned youth hates everything, decides to hitchhike across Europe. But it's when he crosses the border to some European country (we're never told which) that things get messy. I can't even really start explaining anything because I'll just jumble it all up,

there's just so much.

I read this in one sitting because I simply couldn't put it down. Nothing about the storyline was expected, and it was that uncertainty and tension that made me want to just finish it to find a conclusion, an explanation, something tangible. The best part about this book is that even if I gave away the ending it wouldn't really matter because my interpretation of it is probably just that,

my interpretation.

And that's why I loved it so much.

Nicholson writes with such perfection, I can't even know what to say. It's funny at times, surreal at others, completely unexpected and exciting, but most of all it's haunting. The author keeps giving all these little clues that I wasn't really sure were meant to mean anything until so far down the road when I had almost forgotten I had them. There was only one instance where I actually sussed out something before it was spelled out, and as a former avid Murder, She Wrote fan, that's saying a lot.

(Not really!)

The only reason why I didn't give this the full 5/5 is because the end was a slightly disappointing. Thus not saying that there was anything wrong with it, actually, the more I think about the more I think that it may have been perfection. I don't really know what I'm on about. I'll have to re-read this a few months/years down the line see what my take on it is then.

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