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A disquieting puzzle of a novel
on 15 April 2014
In this intriguing novel, teenager Natalie Waite leaves her discontented life in her family home to make a new start at college, where she struggles to connect with her peers, leaving her alienated and deeply lonely. This simple plot is made abundantly complex and unsettling by the questionable sanity of Natalie. From the beginning, it is evident that the line between reality and Natalie's imagination is blurred, and as the narrative progresses it becomes increasingly ambiguous. It is the type of novel in which suspense and a sinister tone are created through incredibly subtle methods, so that it is chilling without there being overtly frightening or gruesome events. It is the type of story which is agonisingly and thought-provokingly inconclusive, so that as you finish reading it you immediately want to discuss it and find out what meanings and conclusions others drew from it. What is impressive about 'Hangsaman' is how completely you become submerged in the psychology of the protagonist - it is expertly crafted so that despite the third person narration, it is impossible to draw a line between the voice of the narrator and the perspective of Natalie. It is a dark and ominous novel, worth reading because of how effectively it infects the reader with an unusual view of the world.