Thursday, 30 July 2009
Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith
When I received this book, I'd heard a lot of good things about it so I was a bit worried it wouldn't live up to the hype. I read the blurb on the back and inwardly groaned because the setting, Communist Russia, seemed all-encompassing and of major importance and I'm not big on politics and political fiction. But I decided to give it a go and see how I got on.
Within a few pages, I was hooked. While the political and historical setting WAS important, it wasn't THE most important thing - the story revolved about the "little people", the man on the street and how his day-to-day life (and often death) was affected by the political decision-makers. Tales of horrific living conditions and poverty, the Big Brother/Trust No One mentality and total disregard for human life and morality were shocking, even more so because (as the bibliography at the end proves) it's all based loosely on fact.
It was a bit hard at times keeping up with the different time periods without losing track of who was who (I'm useless at keeping track of characters with foreign names !!) but the story was well-told and kept you guessing all the way through. The very end was a bit of a let-down - it all seemed to be a bit of an anti-climax and all the loose ends got tied up a little too neatly. And I got the feeling the "evil eyes of the little girl" were put in there just to make a smooth transition to the sequel (just call me a cynic !!)
I got a lot more out of it than I expected, enjoying it as a thriller but also for learning about the background of Stalinist Russia, which originally was one of the elements that put me off.
Simon & Schuster UK, 19 Feb 2009
star rating : 4/5