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4.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing and Very 'French'!, 19 Sept. 2008
Quicksilver (UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Noir: A Novel (Paperback)
'Noir' is a brilliantly disturbing but sometimes frustrating novel. There were times that I wanted to put the book down never to return, and others, where I was dead to the world, aware of nothing else but the chilling story that unfolded as I read. Peculiarly, these two states would flip back and forth over the space of a few pages. Gradually though, the frustrating passages dwindle and the tension builds dramatically towards the novel's apocalyptic ending.

Set in the near future, in a France where the Nationalists have taken over and rule with an iron rod, 'Noir' begins with a man on the run from prison after being sent down for a vicious murder, he may or may not have committed. 'Noir' is existentialist horror and in some places is hard to follow exactly what is going on, but at the novel's heart is a deeply disturbing fable for our times. Sections of the novel are truly gruesome and 'Noir' is not for the faint of heart, but for those who like their vampire novels with a philosophical bite, this is the novel for you.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Everybody's taking drugs because it makes governing easier, 2 Oct. 2009
This review is from: Noir: A Novel (Paperback)
Someone has attributed the `horror' tag to this novel, which I think is a little misleading; because while it does feature characters stranded between two worlds - dead but unable to enter the netherworld - its primary concerns are political and philosophical.

Our narrator is an unremarkable French male, a father of two who finds himself at the scene of a brutal murder. He is subsequently arrested but escapes custody due to a freak accident, and on his return to Paris, things go from bad to worse: his presence seems to horrify strangers, his family reject him, and he is pursued at every turn by armed police. On a broader note, he observes that ethnic minorities are only seen in public after dark, and schools rely on audio tapes to cover for the absence of real children.

The comparisons to Orwell and Kafka are obvious, and the portrait of an authoritarian regime could easily be interpreted in terms of Nazism; but given the relative popularity of far-right parties in France, Noir manages to feel totally contemporary; prescient, even.

I found it to be utterly compelling, and would particularly recommend it to fans of Brett Easton-Ellis and Michel Houellebecq.
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Noir: A Novel
Noir: A Novel by Olivier Pauvert (Paperback - 2 May 2007)
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