A Review of The Shock of the Fall, by Nathan Filer
I realise now that most readers discovered this book last year, which is when it was awarded the Costa award (whatever that means..). This book really is fantastic, a MUST READ. In this review, I will only give away as much as the blurb on the back of the book – which tells you right away that the narrator’s brother is dead.
I don’t want to go into what it’s about in detail, or what happens through the book, because that’s for you to find out. I simply want to talk about what grabbed me about it and why I was so taken with it.
The novel reminded me a little of We’re All Completely Beside Ourselves, where I was constantly aware that there was something not being mentioned, like an elephant in the room. Throughout The Shock of the Fall there is a feeling of uneasiness, as if the narrator is unfurling as much of the story as you need to know at that stage – and nothing more. The elephant in the room is the death of the narrator’s brother, which is so frequently touched upon but not discussed in detail – and as the reader, all you want to do is find out more. The narrator is clearly carrying a great deal of guilt, and until the last few pages this is left unexplained.
I am a big fan of the unreliable narrator. A narrator that you go along with up to the point you realise a few things he said don’t add up – and then you spend the rest of the book wondering what is true. I love the narrator of this book, because though he is not a likable character, he takes you through the story by basically grabbing your hand and pulling you in. At first, I was surprised at the directness of some of the language but as I continued it became my favourite part of the book. It really feels like the narrator is reaching out of the book, grabbing your attention and reeling you in. Like the fourth wall has been breached. I found this technique fascinating and I’d love to find more books that do this. At no point was I disappointed in this book – the end lived up to the build up, and it only got better and better.
I can’t quite believe it’s a first novel, what an amazing achievement. It’s funny, scary, intriguing and sad. This is the one book this year that has really grabbed my attention, and I had to read it from start to finish in one day. Watch out friends and family – this will be under the Christmas tree for you all this year!
If you have read it, please let me know what you thought 🙂