The Many Selves of Katherine North Hardcover – 2 Jun 2016
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The novel succeeds as a literary thriller, as Kit's paranoia increases, and as a fascinating comparison of human/animal behaviour. Geen's descriptions of what it might be like to inhabit the bodies of, variously, foxes, spiders and octopuses are worth the price of the book alone (Guardian)
In this exhilarating metaphysical white-knuckle ride Geen takes us into the other worlds that crouch, slink and bark around us. It's an audacious tour de force that will leave you reeling with ontological vertigo (Charles Foster, author of Being a Beast)
Startlingly fresh ... Along with the protagonist I became a tiger, an eagle, a whale. I hunted, flew and swam in this extraordinary book which goes to the heart of what it means to be alive in a shared universe (Jane Shemilt, author of Daughter)
A work of intelligent, thought-provoking, spine-chilling science fiction that will delight and terrify in equal measure . Exciting, horrifying and compelling (Jack Wolf, author of The Tale of Raw Head and Bloody Bones)
Mixing sci-fi and the natural world it promises to be original and thought-provoking for readers of many genres (Big Issue)
A compulsively readable sci-fi thriller ... The Many Selves of Katherine North would be an accomplishment from any writer, but the fact that this book comes from a first-time novelist is simply astonishing. Emma Geen has built a vivid and wildly engaging world around an incredibly compelling protagonist, creating a piece of work that transcends genre. No qualifiers are needed; this is a great book, full stop (Maine Edge)
Flips between past and present, human and creature . Geen's psychological approach to the empathy anddisconnect constantly shedding identities causes in its human protagonist lifts The Many Selves into an engaging take on established tropes (Herald)
Reminiscent of The Matrix and KA Applegate's Animorphs series, Geen slips between past and present, human and creature to tell Kit's coming-of-age story, racking up suspense with a deftly handled environmental slant, while trying to describe radically different ways of experiencing the world (Western Daily Press)
This is a riveting read. Geen weaves together philosophy and science fiction to create a magical, intelligent and intense novel. This is real philosophy in action (Havi Carel, author of Illness)
Never anything less than magnificent . One of the most exciting debut novels I have read in years. Full of scientific and psychological speculation and yet grounded in the world of material conditions and psychological consequences, the novel provides exactly what I want to see from twenty-first century science fiction (Interzone)
A breathtakingly original debut about identity and humanity for anyone who loves Station Eleven and The BeesSee all Product description
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Kit's job as part of the Shen Corporation research department allows her to become another animal, for hours or even weeks, for scientific research. She has recently become emotionally attached to a young fox she lived with for many weeks, and cannot forget the sudden end to her time there.
We journey with Kit into the bodies of many breed and through Geen's fantastic descriptions of them get a feel for their lives and movements.
Each time she jumps, we learn what life as that creature might be like:
"Even in the gentle current, my flesh feels flaccid; inside is only flexibility, as if I could simply stretch out of myself, on and on until cells break into molecules, indistinguishable from the water I breathe."
Kit as octopus takes us into its world, she gives us the eyes of a tiger, a spider, a bat. Alongside her at all times is her Neuro, Buckley, the voice in her head who grounds her in the real world and guides her in her animal surroundings. It's a relationship of trust.
This rather fascinating insight into animal lives takes a dark turn that also leads us to question what Kit sees and experiences. Who is telling the truth? Where will the phenomenaut research lead?
It's an idea that most readers (myself included) will love. Theoretically, of course I 'd like to experience flight as an eagle, swim as a dolphin. But, as Kit shows us, we would also have to eat raw animals, worry about predators.
The story began brilliantly, and I was enjoying it throughly, the unreliability surrounding Kit making it twisty and exciting. As I reached the ending, I felt a little disappointed that it wasn't concluded more finally with a definite end, it felt a little too open and full of questions. Will there be another chapter? There is story for one, I suspect.
Brilliant idea, slight disappointment in the end, but an amazing journey into the morality of entering the consciousness of another and how you might cope with the two strands of experiencing a life.
With thanks to Netgalley for the advance e-copy, provided for review purposes.
There were, however, a few issues. At times the frenetic pace worked against the story. While Katherine jumped in and out of bodies, as well as the past and the present, it was difficult to maintain an emotional connection to her story. In part, the narrative style fit with her decreasing control and mental stability, yet it made the lens through which the reader sees her jagged and distorted. The plot feel confused, out of the control of the author. In addition, the romance angle did not work for me at all. Even so, Geen is an author that has a lot to offer.
Many thanks to Emma Geen, Bloomsbury USA, and Netgalley for this copy in exchange for an honest review.
The only minor gripe I have is with the ending. No spoilers, don't worry! When the kick came it left me breathless, aching in the heart. But it needed to be more explicit, the threads laid throughout the story brought just that bit further into relief and made just a bit more visible. As it is, they're not mentioned and the reader is left to make assumptions and fill in the gaps themselves. That's not always a bad thing, but it left me feeling like Kit's development missed a couple of very important steps. Like she fell asleep on A and woke up on D, and we're left to assume she went through B and C. But you know what? It's a first novel. Some people write their whole lives and never get this good.
I'm proud to have this on my bookcase.
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Kit is a phenomenaut.Read more
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