Wednesday, 4 October 2017

The Readers - #7 Magenta Opium

It really has been a struggle to keep up with The Readers recently. With all the stress of my miscarriages, and then moving house, I’ve had so much on my plate that I’ve not been able to concentrate on reading. Top that off with the imminent conclusion of my PhD and the general decline in our mutual love of Book Club (we lost a member in the shape of Nikki), and it’s now six months down the road again. I also feel particularly bad, as this one was my choice, but I was the one holding everything up! Anyway, now that I’m finally finished, I present to you our latest slice of fun fiction – ‘Magenta Opium’ by Sharon Baillie.

A little known debut novel, I’d had this one on my list for a while because I was familiar with the author. Sharon was a PhD student while I was studying for my undergraduate degree and, given the fantastic personality I remember from the lab, I was curious to see how her talents as an author would unfold.
As with most of the books we read, ‘Magenta Opium’ can be purchased in Kindle form for the grand total of £2.17, but for those who a fans of more traditional reading, like myself, you can pick up the paperback (also from Amazon) for the slightly increased cost of £9.95.
The book begins with a very strange introduction to the main characters, written in extremely confusing English. I later realised that the rest of the book was written in much the same fashion, in what I assume to be a style which reflects Veronica’s (the main character) mind. All of us agreed that this made it difficult to understand at times, with the book often proceeding at what felt like an accelerated pace, but it also made for fun, light-hearted reading!
The rest of the story continues with the start of Veronica’s PhD, the discovery of something amazing, a slight drugs related incident, jail time, private investigation, crazy antics in the loft, a huge cover-up, Luke and Leia (ninja style) and more chat about getting rid of a dead body than I ever expected to casually stumble across when I considered book club. All of this is punctuated with little nuggets of science related content, which would mean nothing to non-science people, but cracked me up on more than one occasion!
I should have probably realised the book would be a little weird when the praise on the back mentioned that the language would be ‘twisted and turned sometimes beyond breaking point’ and it will appeal to anyone ‘with a sense of humour and a desire to read something a little different’, but don’t get me wrong, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I fell in love with the same writing style when I first read Douglas Adams’ wonderful Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and, although I wouldn’t class this novel in the same ball park, it definitely has its merits.
While this may not have been everyone’s cup of tea, we all agreed that, once we’d gotten halfway through, we couldn’t put it down. The events leading up to the end seemed to spiral out of control and I just HAD to keep reading to find out the conclusion. Sarahjane commented that she wasn’t a fan of the ending because it felt very rushed and sudden, but I honestly couldn’t see any other way for the story to wrap-up. The fate of all characters was tied up nicely and all loose ends were taken care of. Overall, I’d rate this novel as 2.5/5 – an interesting concept, but more than likely an acquired taste for many people.
Our next book is Sarahjane’s choice – ‘The Nightingale’ by Kristin Hannah – hopefully it doesn’t take us quite so long to finish this one!
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