Tag: Interest

James Frey – A Million Little Pieces | Review

Title: A Million Little Pieces

Author: James Frey

Type: Non-Fiction

Page Count: 518

Rating: 4.25/5

I was given this as a birthday present from someone who’d read it themselves and enjoyed it and who’d seen that it was on my ridiculously large want to readlist. I don’t actually get given books that often because more often than not, I end up resenting them because I feel as though I have to read them whether I want to or not. But as this was off my big old list, we dodged that problem.

I think I first heard about this on BookTube, although I can’t remember who was talking about it. It basically instantly went on to my wish list because it’s a non-fiction drug book and I’ve always been partial to books about drugs. I even quite like it when you get references to opium in stuff like The Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy falls asleep in a field of poppies.

Because I find the subject matter interesting, I was pretty much guaranteed to like this one. However, there are some other factors that come into play too. For example, the dialogue is written without quotation marks or indeed any form of punctuation, which some people might offputting. It’s the first thing I noticed when flicking through it and that, combined with a blurb from Irvine Welsh on the back, made me think it might be a tricky read. It turns out to actually work better and to flow more smoothly like that.

I guess that’s because of the style of the book. It’s written as a sort of stream-of-consciousness memoir and reads as though Frey is just chatting to you at a bar, and so this style of punctuation is perfect. At the same time though, I’m sure it’s not quite to everyone’s tastes, and that’s okay. And besides, if you like drug stories but you can’t deal with the punctuation, there’s always the movie version, which I’ll probably watch at some point or another.

Other than that, I’m not sure that there’s much more that I can tell you. I think as long as you have an interest in the subject matter – that of a recovering addict trying to get clean – and you don’t mind dialogue when it’s oddly formatted, you’re in for a treat. I will say that he spends the majority of the book either thinking about drugs or wishing he was dead, and so it can sometimes feel a little samey, but that can’t really be helped due to the subject matter and you have to respect the honesty.

Overall then, I’d definitely recommend this one, especially if you have an interest in drug and addiction memoirs. Otherwise, if you’re worried about trigger warnings or if it just makes you unhappy to read about stuff like this then maybe give it a miss. You’d be missing out on a good read, but it’s also a difficult one that can be quite confrontational too. As for me, I’m glad that I read it. A good gift!

Learn more about A Million Little Pieces.

 


Stephen King – The Outsider | Review

Title: The Outsider

Author: Stephen King

Type: Fiction

Page Count: 486

Rating: 3.5/5

The thing with The Outsider is that I feel as though it would have been pretty good if just anyone had written it, but the problem is that it’s pretty poor for a Stephen King book. It was competently written and I kept on reading, but it didn’t really contain anything to surprise or impress me.

Part of the reason for that is that I’m not much of a fan of when King does crime, mostly because I can’t help feeling that the point of crime is that it’s based on reality, and so as soon as he adds the inevitable supernatural elements, I start to lose interest in the story. It’s a bit like trying to play Cluedo with someone who makes up the rules as they go along.

It’s also the unofficial fourth book in the Bill Hodges trilogy, a mini-series that started off well but which immediately took a dive as soon as the supernatural elements kicked in. I quite liked Bill Hodges as a character, but Hodges is dead by this point and so we have to make do with Holly Gibney, who I liked in the previous books but who I found kind of annoying here. It was also a bit weird how she just randomly shows up half way through the story, way after all of the other characters have been introduced and established.

Other than that though, it’s pretty much positive, and I liked the way that King eventually explained all of the supernatural elements. The bad guy wasn’t necessarily as terrifying as the Walken Dude, but he was still pretty intimidating in a way that was terrifyingly human. In a way, it almost feels realer than a lot of his other monsters too, perhaps because of the setting and the explanation.

Then there are the main characters, with Ralph and Howie standing out for me in particular. That’s one of the good things about reading King – you know that you’re always going to get some pretty good characterisation. Everyone felt pretty fledged out, and I don’t have any complaints to speak of. I was just hoping for something a little more, even though I’d been warned by the reviews that it wasn’t the best King book on the market.

Would I recommend it? I mean yeah, but mainly because I recommend King in general. It doesn’t make sense to get to this one ahead of the other three books in the Bill Hodges series, and to be honest I wouldn’t even recommend those over some of King’s old school classics. But it’s worth picking up eventually or if you see it going second hand in a charity shop. And I’m glad that I’m that one step closer to finishing every book he’s ever written. So what’s next?

Click here to learn more about The Outsider.