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4 Books I Have Read Recently.


The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg LarssonScandinavians have mastered the crime genre in both television and literature. This book reminds me of Forbrydelsen and is impeccable. After watching the film, a psychological thriller starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara, I purchased the book knowing that the premise was going to be multi-layered and complex. Larsson creates fascinating characters amongst a Swedish landscape, constantly building intrigue by shifting the narrative and emphasising the juxtaposition between Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist being tried for libel, and Lisbeth Salander, an eccentric private investigator as they work together to solve the crime of a missing girl. If you enjoy crime fiction, you must read this. I was horrified by the ending whilst simultaneously in awe of Larsson’s mind for having curated such magnificence. Although the book is over 500 pages long, he weaves each sentence together with so much suspense that you'll find yourself sad that it's over. I'm looking forward to reading the next two books in the series.

The Beach by Alex GarlandThis is another book that was used as the premise of a film. I discovered it after sorting through my shelves and skimming through the first page to decipher whether or not it was something I would ever read. A few hours later, the room became dark and night had fallen. The story was so enthralling that I had forgotten my surroundings as I submerged myself into this new realm. This, to me, is the sign of a good book. The story follows a backpacker as he goes in search of a secret island that has been revealed through a map drawn by a stranger. He unearths a whole new world but his narrative eventually becomes unreliable and the entire book is woven with a sense of dread about what is to come. One of the penultimate scenes is something that has remained embedded in my mind, making me realise just how powerful the art of description can be. It is the most harrowing thing I have ever read and I must commend Garland for this masterpiece.

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. My undergraduate dissertation was centred around the changing image of the vampire in contemporary fiction and this title was something that I came across amid my research. At the time, I had been too overwhelmed by information to be able to read everything but kept this on my shelf for a later date. The compelling narrative quickly demanded all of my attention and I found myself engrossed in what appeared to be a sort of European travelogue infused with history, folklore and secrecy. The novel opens with a girl discovering a secret book in her father’s study. When questioning her father about its origin, her innocent discovery quickly turns into the revelation that Dracula is still alive. The novel follows three separate timelines with large sections being narrated through old letters. I would definitely recommend reading the book if you have any interest in Dracula or vampire fiction but I did have to force myself to finish it. The beautiful sections in which Kostova depicts different European landscapes are worth reading but otherwise the novel isn't something that I would personally recommend. It is sometimes difficult to follow and can be, at times, a frustrating read.

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood. This novel begins with a married couple struggling for money and living out of their car. After coming across an advert for a new project promising stable jobs and a new home, they immediately sign up and give away their lives. The project requires them to work for a month, after which they will become inmates whilst their ‘alternates’ live in their home until it is time to switch again. The couple settle into a routine and everything looks promising until they quickly become obsessed with their alternates and things begin to go wrong. The first half of the book was excellent, Atwood did a great job at detailing the dystopian world and depicting the relationship between the two characters but the narrative eventually became tiring and inconceivable. The story evolves into something else entirely and after finishing it, I sat in silence for over an hour in an attempt to make sense of what I had just read. I still don’t know what to make of it. 

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