The Tsar of Love and Techno, by Anthony Marra 


The Tsar Of Love And Techno lends a dark outlook on life in and after the USSR. Using a number of narratives each subtly related to one another, Marra describes the different kinds of life this country created from a variety of perspectives.

Beginning with descriptions of the brainwashed denial and uncompromising loyalty among the general population, living within the all consuming party state, the scene is certainly set for the rest of the novel. Poverty and atrocity are not only rife but the norm, in a country where but a whisper can mean another’s certain death.


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The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, by J.R.R Tolkien 


Since the first time my parents brought back the VHS of the Lord of the Rings, the world of Middle Earth has held me transfixed. Portrayed beautifully in Peter Jackson’s film adaptation, I must admit it did take me a considerable amount of time to read the novels. A sorry fact for any who consider themselves a book lover, I know. Regardless, I finished the trilogy earlier this year, and have a variety of feelings concerning it.

Before beginning, I’ll make it clear that the Return of the King was by far my favourite, indeed it seems it was predominantly the style of this novel from which Jackson’s films were based. All the same, reading the Fellowship offered a much greater insight into Tolkien’s expansive land of Middle Earth than I had imagined.


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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, By Mark Haddon



To add to my seemingly ever growing list of ‘unusual’ books I have been reading lately, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time certainly holds a commendable spot. Written entirely from the perspective of a child with the condition of Aspergers, the novel offers a powerful insight into life with such a brain condition. Though Haddon did not wish this to be the fundamental basis of the novel, indeed he does not state the condition openly, he does however emphasize to the reader how many things people take for granted. Simple things such as the length of a sigh and the variety of its meanings are highlighted in their true intricacies.


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No Country for Old Men, by Cormac Mcarthy 



Mcarthy’s novel, now made into a famous motion picture, reflects upon the damnation of man in a southern texan drawl. The first aspect of this novel which struck me was the peculiar writing style; a seemingly continuous list of actions without much greater detail or character insight. Though difficult to accustom to at first, it appears that this is not without reason. A sharp comparison in style is made with frequent monologues from the sheriff, which are likewise the only chapters within which are numbered. Whilst at first this seemed to be a consideration of good against evil, it appears to be more deeply rooted in emphasising the mindless brutality of humanity, by contrasting this with the orderly sheriff. As the title states, this is no country for old men.


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High Society, by Ben Elton 

As with many of Ben Elton’s books, High Society takes an interesting idea and explores it’s repercussions in modern British society. In this case, the fictional novel follows a backbench MP striving to legalise all drugs in the United Kingdom. The narrative follows the politics, scandals and  effects of this campaign upon the central character, whilst simultaneously offering an extremely liberal but interesting take on the world of drugs.

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The Buried Giant, Kazuo Ishiguro 

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The Buried Giant immediately draws the reader into Ishiguro’s dreamlike world set within post-Roman Britain, where ogres and other creatures are common terrors for those who dwell there. The novel follows the narrative of an elderly couple, focusing on the strength of their marital bond throughout as they journey through surreal surroundings.

Ishiguro’s writing style is certainly unlike any I’ve read before. Clearly he is quite drawn to the chivalrous, charming nature of knights, accentuating this fairy tale style by contrasting it directly with the somewhat brutish nature of men. A strict level of politeness is likewise maintained within all interactions between the varied characters, respect clearly being a powerful part of Ishiguro’s post Roman, sword-wielding world. The simplest movements are considered as though coordinated moves in an elaborate dance, with great detail given to swordsmanship and stature. In this way Ishiguro created not just characters but truly heroic figures, an appropriate part for his fairy tale atmosphere.


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Pigeon English, by Stephen Kelman 

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Kelman’s story takes the reader into the shoes of a young African boy starting school having migrated to London. The colloquialisms and typical slang used throughout offer a realistic perspective of London life for the young, and how a naïve and excited child can soon be thrown into dark and terrible situations.

Pigeon English describes the innocent transition a child can make to become involved with the wrong crowds, ultimately portraying how even the kindest souls can fall to peer pressure to the worst outcomes. This is quite a short novel, yet extremely hard hitting, one I’d recommend to provide a different outlook on how violence can spread from a young age.

Length: 272 (Bloomsbury)

Overall Rating: 3 stars

Like the sound of this? Purchase it from Amazon here.