I just finished reading this book, and it is gnawing its way through my heart and my mind, and so I'm just dispensing with any of the normal niceties and posting my review here. Now someone PLEASE go and read this book so that I can discuss it with you, or at least know that I'm not the only one who is sitting around astonished and horrified but really, so very, very glad that the world continues to turn and I am in it, reading amazing new writers as if it were my job. Which it kinda is.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book...It is gorgeous. It is intensely violent. It is dazzling. It is excruciatingly difficult to read, and you won't be able to put it down. You might throw up a little, at least a couple of times, and you probably should be ready to weep, and then to scream loudly enough in your mind to urge the child at the center of this work to keep going on, and on.
The story revolves around the 14 year old Turtle Alvertson, only child of Martin, who is a widower and a survivalist. They live along the Mendocino coast, and as we follow the gaze of the narrator, we see her life as it is lived, beginning at her house and then slowly extending, streaming, slipping its way outward, almost like the ripple of water on a pond, or a creeping tide. Her homelife is, of course, not a good one, which Tallent makes abundantly clear as he pans across the landscape and zeroes in tightly on the house, its structure, its shortcomings, its master and protector, and the child that it shelters, however imperfectly: he spills specifics, lush and gothic details that are so precocious that to be honest, I nearly didn't read the book because it the opening pages were so...grandiose in their language and the almost unbelievable setting Tallent creates. But then I saw that Stephen King called this book a masterpiece, and I kept going. He's never let me down before, after all. And this is a debut novel, and I try to have patience with those.
I'm glad I kept reading. Because this book gets going and then runs on a furious, evocative, almost beautiful fuel all the way through. IF you can white knuckle through the first truly, utterly horrifying violent action, you'll be hooked, and this book will take off and your mind will follow it and you'll read and read, fascinated and impressed as hell, and your heart will be in your throat for the next 400 pages and your brain will teeter between thinking, "OMG, the guy who wrote this is brilliant" and "Holy Hell, this author is one super f*cked up cookie." But that's a big "if."
I don't want to give much away, so I won't tell you the plot or the key points, but I will tell you that this book combines elements of The Highest Tide, Lolita, Educated, and Black Hearts, and those are four books that have never stayed in my mind since I cracked their respective covers, and this book, it will haunt you. It is pitch black in many places but wow! what a view.
And there you have it. Tune in next time, when I will share with you all the Greek stuff I've been reading lately. Happy reading!