Monday, 25 January 2016

Book Review: The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer

'I'll tell you what happened because it will be a good way to introduce my brother. His name's Simon. I think you're going to like him. I really do. But in a couple of pages he'll be dead. And he was never the same after that.'

Debut novel about one man's descent into mental illness, following the death of his brother in childhood. Filer is a mental health nurse with a unique and startling insight into mental illness, and this book highlights a much-neglected subject.

My Review:
I was frustrated by this book. I loved the idea of the story and I was interested in seeing how the author decided to tackle the issue of mental illness after a family trauma. The blurb sounded good and I was very keen to read it. It didn't turn out to be quite what I expected.

The book itself is not a bad book. I thought that the author had some really good ideas in the book and he really brought the character of Simon to life, although he is not there much. You can see why his family loved him and why losing him ripped the guts out of this family. Matthew holds on to so much guilt over the actions that he felt led to Simon's death. I thought the gradual breakdown of the family was written well, especially the way that his mother starts to behave, dragging him to the doctors every few pages. From what I read of the book it looked as if the whole issue of mental health was well written.

So what was the problem then? Frankly, I didn't like the style that the author used to present the story. The plot feels really confused and jumps back and forward to before, during and after Simon's death with no cohesion or flow. I never enjoy books that do this. We get the little girl's story, which then jumps back to finding out that Matthew got in trouble and being rescued by Simon (we don't know why) then forward to just after the girl incident where Matthew and his mum make up, then we are at the part after Simon dies, then forward years to the mental institution, then back to the funeral and the family problems, then the institution...but I wanted to read the events as they happened! Or have Matthew tell the whole story from the institution in ordered flashbacks, not this mixed up carry on. I just wanted to know what accident Matthew had on that holiday and WHAT HAPPENED TO SIMON!!!

On the what happened to Simon front, I had to look ahead in the book long after I had decided to stop reading, just to have that question answered because it was bugging me. It's page 246 before we get to that memory so it's a long wait. This book had so much potential to be really good but having this constant back and forward between past and present with no real order to events was just too frustrating for me to deal with and enjoy. It is such a pity! 
star rating photo: Two Star Rating 2stars.png

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