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Shades of Grey Kindle Edition
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I read quite a lot and I have to say that it has been a long time since I found myself so `transported' by a book - to the point that the descriptions and world built in the story feel so alive and real that I feel I could turn my head and actually see what the character is looking at - but that was a regular sensation when I was reading this.
The writing style is great - I liked the immediacy, the vivid reality created in the minds of the characters we meet in these short stories. Each is quite different in the content of the story and the perspective it's written from, but at the same time there is a clear voice of the author.
One of the things Michael Cargill does very well is crawl into the head of characters, places and objects he depicts: whether it's the convoluted inner workings of a tortured, disturbed intelligence officer; the war-torn landscape of WWII France; or the playtime friend of a lonely little boy; his ability to bring the various aspects of a story to life was spot-on for me and I would heartily recommend this collection to people who like a rollicking good read - you'll race through the stories and enjoy every minute.
(My only caveat would be prepared for bad language in the first story - it fits perfectly with the character and works well imo, but some may find it a bit story for their tastes).
I'll admit that the writing occasionally felt a little stiff and there was a certain juvenile (or maybe just male) preoccupation with excrement jokes and sexual/masturbatory references. I would be hard pressed to call this highbrow reading material, but I never got the impression it was trying to be. I enjoyed more than I grimaced at. What more could I really ask for?
I will definitely be looking out for more from him.
Of the three, I preferred the first and the third stories. The second, There and Back Again, set in the trenches of WW2, seemed a little familiar, but was still well written. The first tale, Shades of Grey, was gripping, with the tension of not knowing where it was going and just the right amount of nastiness. The hero John had done very bad things, but was redeemed by having his own system of morals. And Down the Rabbit Hole is a great piece of storytelling, I could find hints of Roald Dahl at his most sinister in it. A good read.
Part one `shades of grey' instantly captured my attention and I was immediately drawn into the story from the very first few lines. After only a short amount of time the reader suddenly encounters an unexpected twist within the tale, which turns a somewhat predictable beginning of a story into something exciting and that made me want to read on as I sat in tense anticipation and excitement. This was certainly cleaver and I loved how I learnt so much about the main character strait away, without enduring any lengthy history or long descriptions; the fast-pace was set and the momentum was continued throughout. I loved the descriptions and the use of metaphors to create vivid imagery, for an example I loved the line; "...felt as if they had been cleanly sawn off and someone had stuffed angry bees into the wounds." Just great writing! Another intriguing twist was when you actually found out the main characters supposed connection to the UK government, but which contrapuntally leans towards crime and the darker side of life. How he described his character was completely engaging and how he thought of his actions like a `show' was a fascinatingly brilliant way of shedding light on the criminal mind. I loved the use of flashbacks and how it flicked from the present to the past, helping to develop the reader's understanding of the main character and storyline. It was utterly readable, full of fast-paced action and completely engrossing, with one particular description reminding me of a film called `Taken'. The conversational style made it feel as if you were conversing with the main character. The use of short sentences also helped to add pace and highlight the intense drama.
Part two `there and back again' completely juxtaposed part one entirely, and which instantly transported me to the battleground with its atmospheric & realistic portrayal, that touched upon all the senses. The reader is thrown headlong into all the action and taken on a personal journey through the eyes of the main character. The soldier's innocence and the futility of war is emphasized throughout, with all the realism & horror. Part three `down the rabbit hole' was ever so sinister and mentally impacting hence It has stayed on my mind since. The relationships and emphasis surrounding the violent father is so clearly depicted, that you can almost feel what the characters are feeling. There was a lingering feeling of foreboding, an eerie presence out of the corner of your eye that kept me in utter suspense and tense throughout. It felt always as if there was something more apparent than met the eye, and the tension and drama built to an exciting climax. The only element that left me despondent was the cliffhanger ending which especially on this story I would have preferred not to have, and since reading `shades of grey' I am now longing to read more.Completely brilliant, 100% engrossing and something that as someone who does not read short stories very often it is surprising that I cannot enthuse enough about this book.
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