Riddled With Senses Paperback – 22 Jan 2017
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As you are led into the minds and hearts of the cynical and despairing teenagers, as they lean on each other seeking to find some of way of surviving their feelings using drugs to escape and zone out, or conjuring imaginatively fantastical ways of coping, there is a strong sense of their alienation from their families and the culture they feel forced to endure, which is described brilliantly. So the plight of ‘misfit’ teenagers is at the core of this novel and the insights into their perspectives are staggering. There is a sense of chaos being challenged by order, with the teenagers going to extreme lengths to resist this order. They always opt for delusion, even though it’s clear that the main characters of Hazel and Jitty understand under the surface of themselves that is exactly what they are choosing to do. Jitty is a fascinating character who has a more positive, zany outlook on life and who thinks the best of people, in contrast to the deeply cynical Hazel who finds it such a struggle. And yet it seems so very natural that they become close, devleoping an intense relationship which changes the course of the story when they reach their absolute respective limits.
Gritty realism and magical surrealism are dovetailed beautifully together in this powerfully written literary fiction novel.
The novel follows a group of bored teenagers living in a small town before selfies and social media. Peppered with elements of magical realism it examines friendships glued by loneliness, being different and a ton of drugs.
The main character Hazel’s scathing descriptions of her parents, friends and the grown up world are the highlights of the novel. These are written with the passion and perceptiveness that only a fierce, intelligent and insecure teenager could muster.
Jacob is beautiful and brutal in her depiction of teenagers and gives a rare and fascinating insight into the arrogance, insecurity, intelligence and stupidity of teenagers.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Told in both the first and third person, taking place in the millennium's last year, Riddled with Senses splits its time between Hazel and Jitty, first person and third, and these two are opposites who eventually come into union. Hazel is cynicism incarnate. It is the bitterness that blooms during the transition to adulthood when you start to see the world for what it really is, that shocking destruction of hope gifted to us from the fairy tales of youth into the putrid maw of the mundane and coarse. She and her friends fight it with drugs and delusions of their own grandeur, but even in the midst of their highest highs, there's a sense of futility.
"I don't believe in a state of maturity. Adulthood is a simulacra. These sofa-buying, mortgage-paying chuckleheads are as confused as we are, pretending that paying the bills, raising kids and ignoring the dust and s**t thickening a crust on their souls is something they understand."
I want to buy five copies of this novel and leave it in random places for people to pick up and read.
"There are only so many revelations you have before they all become meaningless."
I love the taste of these words. They're random, scattered, and deliciously mad, yet they weave the lives before you in such brazen relief.
"But that moment never comes. I'm never broken enough to get fixed."
When Hazel meets Jitty, it's like a train crashing into the wall of her cynicism. The ginger haired whirlwind reminds me of Auri from Patrick Rothfuss's The Slow Regard of Silent Things. In psychological terms, Jitty would probably be considered obsessive compulsive. She has created routines that she must follow. A watch that she stops and follows the direction of the numbers, directives only of her own creation. She sees the glow of goodness in everyone where Hazel sees pus. Their relationship is doomed from the start, but the day she climbed through her window and took residence under her bed was the best sober day Hazel can recall.
They are a unity of opposites, but it is a unity that cannot hold. Both the reader and Hazel know Jitty will leave her, realize her cynicism will drive her away, and the end of Riddled is less that and more just a close on this episode of these teenage lives.
This is not a book of blatant revelations, but rather smaller, much more profound ones. Hazel does not change. Jitty doesn't change. The drug induced delusions of grandeur continue as they stumble inexorably towards an adulthood they've already scorned. None of them want to turn into the drooling blobs planted in front of screens, ignoring the squalor, yet they still have the sense that they're mocking just for the sake of mockery. Because this end seems fated no matter what they do. What Hazel learns at the conclusion is how to pretend, and whether this farce will bring her and Jitty back together is up for speculation. She doesn't truly believe her friend Vurt can create a new universe, but all the rest of them seem so convinced that she learns to cage her spleen, and that may be the lesson after all. Not to deny who you are, but to not allow bitterness to rob others of what they could possibly achieve even if failure is fated, and any point will fade like smoke from a joint.