Many thanks to Gallery Books and Netgalley for the chance to read and review this book!
July created a new obsession for me called Iain Reid. I finally decided to pick up I’m Thinking of Ending Things earlier in the month and was completely blown away by the writing and the storyline that kept me guessing from the very first page. Upon finishing, I had to hit up Netgalley for a copy of Foe – Iain’s writing is absolutely electrifying!
As with his previous book, I was captivated from the very beginning of Foe. The story had an Orwellian vibe, similar to 1984, which happens to be one of my very favorite books. I was enthralled by the author’s ability to keep me wondering what the heck was going on throughout the novel while giving me a trail of crumbs to keep me satisfied and turning the pages as rapidly as possible.
I’m not a blurb reader and recommend going into this story blind to feel the full weight of what’s to come, but I will paste it below for those who need a little more information to satisfy their curiosity. I only ventured to read the first line, “We don’t get visitors. Not out here. We never have,” and was practically foaming at the mouth. Give me all of the seclusion and unpredictability and I will be a happy camper. Based on the author’s last novel, however, I expected more of a scary, suspenseful read. I was rewarded instead with a similar writing approach but a completely different plot. The creepy/scare factor wasn’t there in the same context, but it did not prevent me from eating up every word. This shows the author’s versatility in creating unique stories while maintaining the style I grew to love.
We don’t get visitors. Not out here. We never have.
In Iain Reid’s second haunting, philosophical puzzle of a novel, set in the near-future, Junior and Henrietta live a comfortable, solitary life on their farm, far from the city lights, but in close quarters with each other. One day, a stranger from the city arrives with alarming news: Junior has been randomly selected to travel far away from the farm…very far away. The most unusual part? Arrangements have already been made so that when he leaves, Henrietta won’t have a chance to miss him, because she won’t be left alone—not even for a moment. Henrietta will have company. Familiar company.
Told in Reid’s sharp and evocative style, Foe examines the nature of domestic relationships, self-determination, and what it means to be (or not to be) a person. An eerily entrancing page-turner, it churns with unease and suspense from the first words to its shocking finale.
As I write this, I’m still awe-struck by Iain Reid’s ability to create such a well-rounded story while the majority of the writing is vague, featuring quick sentences, odd punctuation (ingenious), and such few pages! As I came near the end, much like in his last book, I was worried all of my questions would not be answered. As soon as one starts to anticipate, the crazy train slams on the brakes. To say I haven’t been this blown away by a book in ages is the understatement of the century. I did not see any of the twists coming, something that is incredibly rare for me these days, and for that, I couldn’t be more grateful.
Foe is infused with a depth that doesn’t quite make sense until the very end as it explores relationships and the toll they take on us in our daily lives and routines. In such a character-driven novel, it was fascinating to watch the characters play off of one another. Every moment of dialogue served an important purpose – not a word goes to waste.
One of my favorite things about this book was the implied ending. Many authors try to do this and fail miserably, leaving readers with too many unanswered questions. The events at the end of the book were clear, without being deliberately stated. I found it to be a truly clever ending to an outstanding read. I am hungover! I can’t imagine starting another book while my brain is still replaying the movie of this story! Speaking of movies, this would make one of the most exciting book-to-screen adaptions I can think of. I’m sold on this author’s work and will continue to pick up anything he puts out. He’s genius!