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!

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