Customer Review

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Is the author as clever as she seems?, 3 July 2007
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This review is from: The End of Alice (Paperback)
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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3.5 out of 5 stars (55 customer reviews)
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