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3.6 out of 5 stars66
3.6 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 30 April 2007
This is not a book for the lily-livered. Bold, courageous and confrontational, The End of Alice is most disturbing. It is also very, very good. There is absolutely nothing engaging or delightful in this story which relates, through correspondence, the exploits of an imprisoned paedophile and his young, wild prototype. It is uncomfortable reading: repulsive and gripping in almost equal measure. Deliberately shocking, Homes forces unpleasant questions, at each and every turn of the page judging perfectly how readers are likely to react, catching them in their own doubts with scary precision. The erotic correspondence, delicious to the letter writers, works well in revealing how a paedophile, imprisoned twenty three years ago, is also witty and intelligent, manipulative and guiltily complicit. Turning the final page comes as a relief: can't imagine anyone actually enjoying reading this novel but it is rewarding in its own way. A unforgettable literary questioning of liberalism and modernity, it deserves attention.
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on 29 August 1999
The most riveting, seductive book that I have ever read...and hesitate to recommend to others. Homes is an amazing writer. The inner world she creates inside the pedophile's head weaves it's own spell upon the reader, drawing one into a maze of logic unto its own *reality*. The reader is seduced into a point of view that warps the truth and charms in a perverse and oddly mesmerizing way. What bravery in tackling such repulsive subjectmatter. I recently read an interview with Homes, and she spoke of the anger that the book has evoked in people. Well dear reader, be warned. If you are able to face the shadow in your own self, and endure a little squirming in your *safe* little this dangerous and dark insightful tale. I myself will order her newest novel with great anticipation, " Music for Torching".
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 17 September 2009
It is difficult to know what to say about this book. By turns I was revolted, amazed, made extremely uncomfortable, and found myself aghast at the vision that created it. Alice is a 12 year-old girl and her story is told by the man who killed her, a paedophile in prison. The child herself is portrayed as extraordinarily precocious, as is another, a 12 year-old boy whose seducer, a 19 year-old young woman, is writing to the paedophile. The 12 year-olds are willing, complicit, both of them. In the world of the paedophile, of course, they would be seen as such, even if they were not.

Alice's killer is subjected to stomach-churning abuse as a boy - one scene of him in a bath with his mother does for baths what Alfred Hitchcock did for showers, and then some. At one point I did not really want to continue reading - it made me feel grubby and profoundly uncomfortable, but I persevered, and I am impressed, but I don't want to be impressed.

A M Homes' writing talents are extraordinary, but I wonder what she gained by portraying a paedophile as a victim? Perhaps that is her point? Perhaps there is nothing done in this world that cannot be explained or understood? To write from the point of view of everyone's moral panic figure is brave, defiant, almost as if she is saying there is nothing under the sun that a human being cannot comprehend.

I expected to be shocked by this novel - but at the same time I knew I would want to defend Homes' right to portray a taboo subject. What I did not expect is my feeling of revulsion at the complicity of the children concerned. Perhaps what I missed in this extraordinary book is some confirmation that this complicity was an illusion of the paedophile? I'm pretty sure I would have recognised this element if it had been present. I may read it again some time with this idea more in mind, but I hesitate to put myself through this experience more than once. Trusting to my own judgement therefore, my conclusion is that it isn't there because there is no room for it in the paedophile's psychology. For him to admit to even an inkling of the immorality of his actions would bring his world crashing down around him.
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on 21 July 1999
I found "The End of Alice" to be one of the most interesting and unique books I have ever read. I thought it to be more of a grotesque love story than a horror story. Basiclly the first 13 chapters or so goes through out the narators correspondance with a 19 year old girl. The girl opens up her whole life to this 54 year old convict and tries to model herself after him. The convict eventually falls in love with her and his past comes back to haunt him. Around the 14th chapter things start to get interesting, this is where the misterious Alice comes in and everthing starts to fit together. By the end your expecting a death, but you'll be shocked by the gruesome details. "The End of Alice" is a book filled with love, jealousy, and most of all blood! I suggest it to everyone because it's so shocking yet so wonderful. Homes really knows how to catch someones attention
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on 4 November 2014
This book is interesting. Interesting because for me it managed to be at once repulsive and compelling; car crash literature whose mangled, bloodied wreckage is profoundly disturbing to contemplate yet impossible not to sneak a glance at. Were it not for the dense, florid prose - albeit as an affect of the main character's narration - this would be a real page turner. The story unfolds at a sedate pace, the languidity enhanced by the deliberate style of narration; and it's this that slowed the story down, for me. That is not to say, however, that Homes' chosen affect renders the story unreadable, or that it didn't work; quite the contrary. At times the narrator's lengthy waxing went completely over my head, which I believe could be Homes' very intention - readers are not meant to be able to identify with him on any level.

This isn't a book I would read again, or one I would recommend to just about anyone. But for what it is, I feel it works well, and if you enjoy pushing your own boundaries then it might be a challenge well worth undertaking. Make no mistake, it's highly uncomfortable reading, in more ways than simply the sexual. If you want to read something that leaves you a little shaken, a little perturbed, as if you've been privvy to something you really shouldn't have, read it.
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on 23 September 2015
This novel is incredibly brave. The author takes us into the mind of a depraved individual, and by that I mean, really takes us into the mind of 'Chappy'. He is vile, depraved, narssistic and on a occasion darkly humorous. The writing is economical, the flashbacks and his imaginings of a girl who is writing to him for advice on seduction is brilliantly executed. Highly recommend, but only for those who have an open mind and are not easily shocked.
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on 3 December 1999
I was surprised and uneasy throughtout reading this novel. If a book is judged by a feeling, disgust is a good label, however, I would recommend 'The end of Alice' to anyone. On one level it is about abuse and paedophilia, taboo subjects in any society. The story focuses upon the relationship between a convicted male child abuser and a teenager girl who attempts to seduce a young boy. If you can delve beneath the surface of natural distaste, Holmes poses a more meaningful question. That is 'why do we view sexual abuse by women differently?' I don't know the answer and certainly the novel made me uncomfortable, but that's why it is so good. The author is not afraid to tackle a difficult issue. She holds no bars in her descriptions, nor through her writings makes any apologies. If you can suspend your natural distate and retain your objectivity, this is well worth the read.
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on 3 July 2007
Some aspects of this novel impressed me, such as the narrator's highfalutin language and the deft handling of flashback sequences. In certain places, fantasy seamlessly blurs with reality and if you're not careful, you can read whole paragraphs incorrectly...sending you back to read them again in the correct light (I like this demand upon the reader).

However, it is this blurred line between fact and invention that gradually began to bother me. I believe that what is at work in this book is the concept of the 'unreliable narrator'. Everything we are reading has come from the pen of an ageing child-killer...hence nothing can be corroborated or taken at face value.

For instance, the way in which every child speaks in this story is absurd. They talk with the wit and understanding of a well-read adult - in other words, they are mouthpieces for a paedophile recalling events in his own deranged way. This in itself is a clever literary device, reminiscent of such excellent works as 'American Psycho' - but the difference here is that this tricky device is either much too overstated or much too unintentional. I couldn't decide which it was and so could not grasp what A.M Homes was ultimately trying to say.

The 19-year-old girl intent on seducing her underage neighbour was, I felt, a rather obvious female counterbalance to an otherwise strict set of sordid male perversions. Was she entirely necessary? Her character dissolved and faded into nothing in the closing stages, leaving you wondering what, essentially, she had brought to the story. Far more interesting were the intrusive memories of Alice and what role she may have played in this grim affair.

This said and done, I did admire the uncompromising way in which Homes forces us to walk a mile in a paedophile's shoes. It is difficult to approach such subject matter objectively. I was also struck by the incredible way that a female author has so convincingly captured some of the darkest corners of the male sexual psyche. So - a compelling read overall, but did it really tap into the right veins to really get people thinking?
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on 8 January 2015
This is one of those books that you hear about and you aren't sure if you should read it or not. Well i usually do , and i did .
Yeah sure it's shocking and all that but it is a brilliant book ! if you have a strong stomach and thick skin then go for it.. The story is original and has the ability to make you feel sorry for types of people you wouldn't usually . I don't want to write too much for the sake of people that haven't read it and are thinking about buying it. It's strangely addictive reading and at certain points you'll be thinking 'oh my god' but stick with it and make it to the end so you can reflect on what the hell you just finished. You will be thinking about this book afterwards and thinking about different aspects of it , it stays with you like that.
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on 1 March 1997
The most shocking content in The End of Alice is not the pedophilia, which to sophisticated readers is by now familiar if not exactly comfortable. What is novel and potentially breathtaking is the coming-of-age story of a young woman whose own twisted fate leads her to correspond w/ an imprisoned killer/pedophile during a pivotal summer of sexual exploration.
The writing is good; the reading, engaging; the book, ultimately unsatisfying. In addition to the coming-of-age story, there is the convict's own story, and there is the story of his murder victim. Too many stories for a short novel, and the occasional post-modern cuteness w/ reader and characters' identities doesn't make the exposition any deeper or more profound. The novel ends with what is surely a self-conscious imitation of Lolita's travelogue -- but so what? I have the feeling i must have missed something big -- but then, apparently so does the author, who has now published an "Appendix" to the novel (which I have not seen). I would be happy to receive enlightening comments.
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