- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Doubleday (9 Aug. 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0857525468
- ISBN-13: 978-0857525468
- Product Dimensions: 13.4 x 2.7 x 21.3 cm
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 10,167 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Resin Paperback – 9 Aug 2018
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"Highly original . . . it reminded me of Stephen King at his best: creepy as hell, but with compassion for every character however misguided." (Jake Kerridge Daily Telegraph)
"Deliciously macabre… it vies with the darkest imaginings of the Brothers Grimm" (Observer)
"A vivid, fable-esque exploration of love when it is too much" (Ali Land, author of Good Me Bad Me)
"A chilling story about the lengths a man will go to protect his family and way of life. Liv and the terrifying place she manages to survive in will stay with me for a long time." (Claire Fuller, author of Our Endless Numbered Days)
"Haunting and claustrophobic . . . a moving tale of love that morphs into madness." (Daily Mail)
About the Author
Ane Riel has won Scandinavia's four most prestigious literary awards for her novel Resin which has been a bestseller around the world.
Top customer reviews
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Content warning for child abuse, animal abuse, and unpleasant language used around weight and size (I'm not sure whether you would class it as body-shaming or not, but it definitely didn't feel good to read). It's also generally just quite a disturbing book, so if you're interested in reading but are concerned about the subject matter, let me know and I can give more information about specific topics.
**Please be advised there will be minor spoilers for the book in this review, simply because the synopsis provides such limited information about the actual substance of the book that writing a review without giving away more information than that is nigh on impossible**
Onto the review! The book follows Liv and her family - her twin brother Carl, father Jens, mother Maria, and grandparents Else and Silas - and their lives in a small house on the outskirts of Korsted, the largest town on the small island where they live. Though the majority of the story focuses on Liv, there are sections from the perspective of other family members, and some before her birth, about the childhoods of Jens and his older brother, Morgens. As Liv grows up, her father's behaviour becomes more erratic, and her understanding of the world becomes more and more shaped by what she learns from him. As his metal state deteriorates, what happens on the Horder property starts to deviate more from what might be considered 'right', and the outside world starts to close in around them.
Liv is the main character of the book, though we do hear from other characters at various points. I thought her voice was well-developed and realistic, which is often not the case with authors writing young children, particularly those growing up in unusual and difficult circumstances. There are some amusing points where Liv has seen or heard about something that she doesn't understand but which the reader will, and her attempts to reason out an explanation can be charming. Through her parents, we see more of how things have reached this point, and how relatively easy it can be for people to essentially fall off the grid. I'm not sure I particularly liked any of the characters other than Liv, but I did find them fascinating to read about.
Most of the book takes place in and around the Horder's house and land, but we see other parts of the island through a couple of outside characters, and through Liv and Jens' trips to gather food and other objects. To me, it felt like an incredibly claustrophobic place, full of gossip but where people don't actually speak about their problems or true feelings. Again, it's easy to see why someone like Jens might have retreated away from the wider community.
I have to commend both Riel's writing and the translation here. I've not read the original, but this didn't feel like a translated work, and I mean that in a positive way. There was none of that stilted, awkward structure you often get with translated work, and given the praise the original received, it seems to me that the translator, Charlotte Barslund, has done a really great job with this book. I think part of the reason I struggled so much with it is because it's so well-written - the descriptions are incredibly vivid, and there's so much tension that I found some sections quite nerve-wracking to read. I can appreciate why this book was so well-received, and why the majority of the reviews on Goodreads are positive.
There is one character in the story who, over the course of the book, gains a significant amount of weight and ends up confined to a bed. Although the treatment of this character isn't exactly fat-shaming (I think due mostly to how limited the influence of the outside world is), it's definitely unpleasant. This character is essentially at the mercy of everyone around them, and their desire for increasingly greater amounts of food ends up putting the other characters in danger. Though no characters are really treated well in this book, I did feel like the treatment of this character and they way they are described physically was particularly cruel.
This is, overall, a pretty disturbing book. Had I had more information about the content, I'm not sure I would have picked up the book at all, as it's not the kind of thing I generally enjoy reading. Would I recommend it? I'm honestly not sure. If you're not going to be upset by the content, it might be worth reading due to the quality of the writing, and the charming and sometimes creepy perspective of Liv.
Resin is quite simply a book like no other. Harrowing and yet beautiful, haunting and yet darkly compulsive.
The story is largely told through the eyes of Liv - her young voice is utterly mesmerising, her innocence and acceptance of events as they unfold serving to intensify and accentuate the horror that we feel as our adult minds convert them into their hideous reality.
As we learn more about the life of her father, Jens Horder, the prose is almost lilting - thus enhancing the folklore feel and lulling you into a cocooned state of comfort before it creeps up behind you and delivers its next deeply unsettling blow.
The remoteness of the location and the sense of place are so cleverly brought to life that Liv’s whole world surrounded me as I read. The isolation from the mainland heightening the chill that swept over my skin as the wind whistled through the forest and as I continued to turn page after page.
I finished Resin within 24 hours but have a feeling that it’s startlingly original themes will stay with me for much longer.
Resin by Ane Riel follows the life of Liv Horder with her father, Jens, her mother Maria and her grandmother Else. In the first line, I knew this story would be dark, as Riel launches in with Liv recounting her grandmother’s death at the hands of her father. The way she talks about it so matter-of-fact sets the tone for this family and the rest of the novel. Things and stuff are important to Jens Horder, but so are people, but only the ones who do not threaten his way of life. And they must be kept and preserved forever. He cannot lose anything or anyone. Liv is just seven years old, and her father sends her on errands in the dead of night to steal food and useful items from nearby houses and businesses, including their local pub. Jens hoards everything she brings, claiming that they must take care of every single item, until they are buried in stuff, filth, animal faeces and themselves. What will Jens do when their lives are disrupted?
What I liked…
I enjoyed Resin by Ane Riel because it is telling an important story. It offers a warning of not only how we handle things that we buy, but also how we covet people and can be overprotective at times. It is told in such a way that I was gripped from the first line and, while I may have had to gather my thoughts every now and then, it is mostly a fast-paced novel told by a sympathetic narrator. I liked Liv’s character as she battled with her sense of duty towards her family and her father especially, whilst also maintaining her childlike wonder about what else could be out there. I like that she questions things, but does not know any other way, and she shows real character development from the incident with her grandmother to later parts of the novel.
I felt that Liv’s mum, Maria was a rather weak character. She simply enabled her husband’s behaviour and allowed herself to become a product of his mental state. It is as though he not only hoards things in the house, but also in her until she can no longer talk to him or move. I felt sorry for Liv having such an absent mother, but this perpetuated my sympathies for her, as she had nothing and nobody to tell her right from wrong, and had only the words of her deranged father to go by. She is a strong character who survives based on her own personal merit.
What I didn’t like
There were two main issues with this book: the blurring of events and Liv’s character as treated by her parents and by the author. Firstly, the events of the book, including Liv’s trips out in the middle of the night, her animal interactions and conversations with her father all appeared to blur into one at times, which I didn’t always enjoy. They were quite repetitive without much content to further the story along. Until we started hearing from the pub owner’s point of view, I found this slowed the narrative down a bit.
And Liv’s character treatment: She is seven years old. This is far too young, in my experience to be able to understand and execute thieving tasks in the middle of the night like she does. I used to teach young girls ballet, and even seven year olds were difficult to teach and follow instruction. Therefore, I feel as though Riel put too many expectations on Liv’s shoulders, while her parents are just terrible people. What kind of father would let his seven year old daughter run around town at night stealing from people’s houses?
Overall, this is a four star book. I would have rated it five stars had Liv been a bit less mature and more true to her age. I would recommend this book for anyone looking for something slightly disturbing, that deals with mental issues and offers a word of warning for actions such as coveting and gluttony.
Most recent customer reviews
Generally speaking, I don't tend to read thrillers but there was something about this book that just spoke to me and I am so, so glad I...Read more