Robert Llewellyn – Punchbag [REVIEW]

Title: Punchbag

Author: Robert Llewellyn

Type: Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 408

Rating: 3.5/5

This is the second Robert Llewellyn book that I’ve picked up, and both of them have been pretty good so far. In this one, we’re following a story about women’s self-defence classes, where the titular punchbags are essentially men who get paid to dress up in protective gear and get beaten up by woman so that they’re better prepared to defend themselves if they get attacked.

One of the interesting things about it is that it was published at around the dawn of the millennium, which means there are a few technological references that feel kind of dated, including a primary character who doesn’t know how to send an email or use a website.

But even though those technological references feel pretty dated, the themes of the book are more relevant than ever. In fact, it’s pretty interesting to read this in the post-#MeToo era.

What I will say is that I think the book could have done with a little more editing, because it was a slow burner with a few pacing issues that probably could have benefited from having 50-100 pages removed from it just to streamline it. It’s not that the added material isn’t good, it’s just that it doesn’t do anything to drive the narrative forward.

It’s also one of those weird books where instead of there being a build up to a dramatic conclusion, it pretty much stays on an even keel throughout. It’s almost as though Llewellyn prioritised playing with the ideas that he had over telling the story, and I have no problem with that. I just think that there are readers out there who’ll find it to be a turn-off.

I think if I wasn’t already a Llewellyn fan and if I hadn’t picked up three of his books as part of a job lot, I wouldn’t have stuck with him past the first book, but this one made me take him a little more seriously as a writer. If he has more books like this up his sleeve, I’ll be a happy boyo.

Just don’t expect this to be particularly fast-paced, and while the quotes on the cover say that it’s a comedic book, don’t expect too much of that either. That doesn’t mean that it’s not good, it’s just the kind of book you’ll want to chew over. So yeah!

Learn more about Punchbag.


Melvin Burgess – The Hit [REVIEW]

Title: The Hit

Author: Melvin Burgess

Type: Fiction

Page Count/Review Word Count: 314

Rating: 3.5/5

I picked this book out from a pile of books that my girlfriend and her aunt were getting rid of, and it definitely read like the kind of book that my girl likes to read. Although I’m not sure if she ever checked it out.

This book is set in a sort of dystopian near-present in which the government is falling apart and there are huge protests going on. It’s basically like where we are today, but on steroids. It holds up a mirror to our reality that accentuates the bad and hides the good.

Against this backdrop, a new drug has been developed which gives you an incredible high for a week and which then kills you at the end. It’s super popular amongst kids and is inextricably linked to the protest movement, because when it feels like the world is falling apart around you, it kind of makes sense to trade the rest of your life for a week of pleasure.

The plot itself then follows a couple of teenagers who end up getting tangled up with both the drug and the organisation that creates and supplies it. The result is a thriller that’s super easy to read and which has a lot going for it, even if it occasionally feels clunky and the writing isn’t always the best.

This is the second Melvin Burgess book that I’ve read and both of them have had a focus on drugs, and so you could say that there’s a little bit of a theme to his writing. That works for me though, because I’m always up for a good drug book.

All in all then, The Hit was a success and I was happy that I picked it up. I need some more Burgess!

Learn more about The Hit.