Thursday, May 28, 2015

Lullaby by Bernard Beckett...

Title- Lullaby.
Author- Bernard Beckett.
Publish date- May 27th, 2015.
Publisher- Text Publishing.
RRP- $19.99 (AUD)


Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
Rene’s twin brother is dying in hospital, and Rene must make the decision whether he takes the chance to bring him back, even if that means he might be bringing back a completely different person.

Thank you to Text Publishing for this review copy!
Image Source: Text Publishing.


What I thought:
I read and was fairly conflicted with Bernard Beckett’s Genesis, and to describe the way I felt during and after reading Lullaby would be to remember the oddness, peculiarity, confusion and conflict of emotions that came with Genesis.
Lullaby is strange.
And I’m thinking this is how Bernard Beckett’s writing is going to keep getting me. His plots are interesting, with so much hidden, lying in wait in the synopsis’, but so far they haven’t left me positive. They’ve left me unseated and perplexed, and Lullaby features an unreliable narrator, of which I am stridently not fond.

The story is of two twins. One is in the hospital and with only hours to live, though he’s not lucid. The other is telling a psychologist stories of them both, a history of the two brothers, while constantly challenging and second guessing most everything. All he says is noted and taken down to decide whether he is in enough of a right mind to go through with an operation that will- could- bring his brother back, only not as he knew him, not as he was.
And it was bizarre.

It’s set in a future that is at once very familiar, but altered in it’s medical advances and the names given to drugs- what really made it feel different was Rene’s perspective, the way he viewed and described all that was around him. I can’t say Rene’s was a view I was all that happy to be in. I… disliked him. He and his brother had a very close but, as it progressed, unhealthy relationship. They went against each other, clashed for dominance, and both of them came across as being fairly awful people. Rene is supposed to be the nicer one, Theo the opposite, in the eyes of the people surrounding them, but Rene didn’t seem like a “good” person. His identity felt fragile yet bitter, his motives were born of misguided intent, and I didn’t understand him.

The novel ends on a somewhat predictable note in it’s openness, with so much unexplained and so much starkly told in the last chapters- I had grown to expect and ending like that, but I didn’t particularly enjoy it. It encompassed the things that frustrated me with Lullaby, and it frustrated me all the more intently.

Rating: Oh nooo... I sense an explosion coming and this is the worst possible time for an explosion.
This was a disappointment for me. I like my endings to be at least a little secure, and this was, frankly, the opposite of a secure ending. Faintly thriller-esq, this was a novel I can imagine some readers truly being taken away by, but not me.

24 comments:

  1. It sounds like a book that would drown me in my own tears. The ending might not be enough for me either. Sheesh. Aussie writers and their introspective writing.

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    1. I'm not sure if you mean that in a good or a bad way, Joy! Tears when reading can be good, bu certainly not always.
      I actually don't read a lot of Australian writing, so I'm not sure about themes, though actually I believe Bernard Beckett is from New Zealand, so that's interesting. Thanks so much for stopping by, Joy! And I love your little avatar! x

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  2. Oh, I'm so sorry that you didn't enjoy this one Romi, I can see how it would certainly be a hot or miss for readers. I posted my review up today as well and I fell on the side of having really loved it, I was mentally exhausted by the end and had an inkling of what was coming, but it was the journey to reach that point that really immersed me. I actually liked Rene for the most part, even though I couldn't relate to him. Theo sounded awful, but completely agree about Rene being bitter and I felt as though he was trying to win both readers and Maggie over.

    Lovely review nonetheless Romi, I'm looking forward to checking out his other titles as well now <3

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    1. I've bookmarked your review to read, actually, Kelly! I'm looking forward to reading more on what you thought about this and why you enjoyed it particularly. I do agree that it seems to be something that you either will love or won't.

      Thanks so much! I hope you enjoy some of his other books just as much as this one- I'd recommend Genesis, actually. Didn't love it myself, but it's much more twisty and captivating than this, I thought, and I imagine you'll really enjoy it, since you did this. xx

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  3. Ohhh, what a shame you didn't like this one more. I've seen several positive reviews of it lately, and even so, I think I might have to check this one out when I have a chance. I am very curious about it. I love strange novels so this sounds like right up my alley. ;) Great review!

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    1. I totally understand- even, sometimes, when I see a really negative review of a book, if it's interesting enough through it's synopsis or other revieews I've read then I'll still be keen to read it. I hope you have better luck with this than I did, though.
      Thank you so much for visiting! xx

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  4. I am surprised you read another Beckett book. I did like Genesis but it was odd.. too odd. I wouldn't go back and read another one of his book. But at the same time... I like how you mentioned that his writing always gets you. I agree... it's mysterious, has messages behind it. I just am conflicted with him. Another writer that does this to me is Gaiman.

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    1. So am I, really! The plot of this one, it just drew me in and I knew I would be fairly well guaranteed to be captivated, if not, it turns out, in love.
      Oh yes? I don't think I could say Gaiman does it to me, too- I'm not drawn, yet, to many of his adult novels, and they don't give me the same strange feeling. It can be summed up as that, really: Strangeness.
      xx

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  5. I'm sorry you didn't like this, Romi! So far the other reviews I've read for this have been fairly positive.

    This doesn't sound like my kind of book, either. The dual POV with one not-really-lucid hero and one who is speaking to a psychologist will probably feel really iffy for me too. And characters who are depicted as "good" but are really not... I can't deal with those. :(

    Lovely review, Romi!

    Aimee @ Deadly Darlings

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    1. I haven't read any other reviews of it yet (I imagine I'll read quite a few today!), but I'm glad others seem to be enjoying it! Kelly said it well, I think, when she mentioned above that some people will probably love it and others not. A kind of one way or the other thing.

      Actually it's only told from one POV, just the timeline switches back and forth and the way those points are told feels very different. No! It really didn't work- and doesn't usually- for me, either. It's interesting how it feels to me like that was supposed to be a thing that was very much perspective-orientated. I'm sure others don't feel the same about him as I do- maybe they feel like he was "good" which is really interesting.

      Thank you so much, Aimee! xxx

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  6. Hm, I haven't heard of this before, but it sounds interesting. I don't know if I'd like it or not, but I still appreciate your perspective! :)

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    1. Thanks, Heather! It's quite an unusual book and story, but I'm not sure I'd recommend it if you didn't think the synopsis sounded interesting enough to captivate you. xx

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  7. I'm still really interested in reading this one, because I think I would be able to like the bizarre premise and writing and how it's something that would make you think, especially if it concerns identities! Lovely review, though! Sometimes a book that doesn't appeal to one would appeal to another ;)

    Faye at The Social Potato

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    1. I actually think you'll end up rather liking it, too, Faye! From the style and type of books you enjoy, I think this could be right up your reading-alley. It's definitely one that makes you think a lot about what it means to be human and consequences of life, ect. only for me it was too overshadowed by the things I didn't like to be a really notable part of the story.
      Thanks so much, Faye! I'll keep an eye out for your review! xx

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  8. Such an interesting premise, but I can understand how it can be tough to get through. I do love open endings, but sometimes you need more when the whole books is one big question mark. An interesting read, but I don't think it would be for me personally. Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts Romi! xx

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    1. Definitely a book with a lot of food for thought, though as I said to Faye it was overshadowed by the things that frustrated me, so I couldn't take it in and appreciate it as much as I would have, had I enjoyed it.
      That makes a lot of sense. For me there just wasn't enough connecting me to the story, though.
      Thanks so much, Joy! xx

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  9. I can see how it would be a polarising book! I'm still curious to check it out. I really enjoyed Genesis by Bernard Beckett which played with my mind but this might be a bit different since it's more than one POV. Thanks for sharing the review!

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    1. It feels like that kind of story, for sure, though more so afterwards. Maybe I'm conflicted by what I've heard since I finished it, rather than what I felt whilst I was reading.
      You might like it, actually! Definitely more likely if you liked Genesis, I imagine. There's not really two POVs, I don't think (kind of at the end, for a few pages), more a switching time-line which makes it feel like a very distinctive shift when it comes back to present.
      Thank you! xx

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  10. I think it takes a certain finesse to create an unreliable narrator that someone can enjoy. For example, when I read MADE YOU UP by Francesca Zappia, the main character is unreliable because of her mental health. I liked that a lot, because the character was unreliable because of herself, not because she was picking and choosing what to tell the reader.

    Open endings annoy me. A lot. I mean, I don't spend x amount of time investing time and effort into a book and its characters, only to have it end with no resolution *wailing*

    To be honest, I'm not entirely sure if I would ever pick this book up. it sounds a bit iffy to me.

    Lovely review, dear! <3

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    1. I'm really hoping to like Made you Up, Chiara. I've read a couple pf reviews of it now and it sounds quite marvellous, but I do have a tendency not to like the unreliable narrator. That's a really brilliant example.

      Sometimes I'm not bothered by them, as much- it depends on how they're done, I suppose. I'm sure some books I've truly loved more because of their open ending, because it gave me just enough to be able to take the story further myself, but this... didn't work for me. In general they don't, really. More often than not it just annoys me!

      Thanks, Chiara! x

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  11. The strangeness of this book is intriguing, but reading your review it might be too strange for me and so it would be hard for me to get into it. I like unique story telling sometimes - but it is often hit or miss! It's too bad this was a disappointment for you!

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    1. Thanks, Charlene! It got me with how intriguing it sounds, too, which happened with another one of Beckett's novels. And they certainly *are* interesting- intriguing and odd and perplexing- but they just aren't... maybe they aren't resolved nearly enough for me, among other things. xx

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  12. I read Genesis by this author and when I was done I'd quite liked it but that didn't distract from the fact that it was such a strange book. Revealing certain things are just the right time so we see the bigger picture slowly. It seems like he does this for all of his novels. So maybe this is one I will be able to enjoy to? I had never heard of it before now!

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    1. Oh, I was thinking, when I was on your blog last week, that you might be interested in reading it, although I wasn't sure you'd enjoy it so I held off recommending! How funny, then, that you've already read it! It's definitely a peculiar read, that one. I definitely felt like he had the same "BAM" ending feel, and unfortunately that meant, since I anticipated him doing that again, that I knew what was going to happen. But you could enjoy it! Maybe give it a try!

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