August 23rd, 2015
The Short Take:
Ultimately, this psychological drama disappointed. It started strong but caring about either of the main characters was difficult, and became even harder as the plot progressed.
This wasn’t a bad book. In fact, I believe it would make an excellent movie. It just didn’t live up to the expectations it created in the early chapters.
The narrator and his mentally challenged brother are both obsessives: the former laser-focused on the woman he loves, the latter devoted to his managerie of insects. These characters are decidedly creepy, however I’m not sure Prebble intends for you to feel that way about them — at least not from the very beginning.
The novel’s prologue is actually an epilogue of sufficient freakiness to get you immediately involved. The writing is appropriately atmospheric. The plot twists and turns, and certainly keeps you wondering what’s going to happen next; or rather, what exactly was going on in that so-called prologue. You wanted to learn all the answers. That’s what drives you to the last page. Then you go, “Hmm…”
A Little Plot:
(Skipping the prologue completely.) Jonathan is devoted to his older brother, Roger, who has mental issues. Roger, in turn is fiercely protective of Jonathan.
Jonathan falls madly in love with Harriet, who reciprocates his affections. However, Jonathan’s jealousy is boundless despite her reassurances. When the two of them head off to college together, Roger finds his own obsession — a growing collection of insect colonies.
Then tragedy strikes.
For more about Stuart Prebble, and an entirely different take on this novel, click here.