Tuesday 22 February 2011

Book review : Troika - Colin Pascoe

Sometimes, as a reviewer, you turn the final page of a novel and think to yourself hmmmm, what on earth am I going to write about that ?! Troika is one of those books !

On the one hand, it is a well-written, tense narrative recounting the desperate break for freedom made by Crib, after he escapes from a mental institution with the mysterious men in grey hot on his heels. His increasing sense of desperation and hopelessness as he finds himself backed into a corner are realistically portrayed and we can almost empathise with him as his life spirals out of control and desperate times call for desperate measures.

But we never really know who Crib is or what is going on. He was put into the mental institution because he disappeared for several months after taking his dog out for a walk and, when he suddenly resurfaced, he told mystical tales of having been taught a new way of understanding the meaning of life and the ways of the world. But what actually happened ? Was he abducted by aliens ? Kidnapped by a strange cult ? Did he have some strange midlife crisis ? Or is he really insane ?

Interspersed with this gripping tale are the sometimes lengthy texts that Crib is intent on setting down as his extremely important legacy to the human race. This amazing new pseudo-scientific or philosophical theory is hard to grasp and, while at first I struggled to understand it, I admit that towards the end, I tended to skim over the paragraphs in bold type because it was too much like reading an indecipherable textbook !

The book also offers an innovative structure as there is no defined end. You get to read four different endings, each is which is only a couple of paragraphs long, and choose which one is your favourite. It's an interesting idea but I have to admit, I would have preferred a more defined ending, probably because this is what the reader is used to. But the novel is all about a new way of understanding the world so it makes sense that the structure of the book should shake up the current norm too.

To conclude, I really enjoyed the cat-and-mouse part of the story, but I found the new world-view explanations hard to follow and ultimately slightly tedious. In atmosphere and content, it reminded a bit of the cult TV series X-Files. "The truth is out there" ... but I'm not quite sure I understood it !

star rating : 3.5/5

RRP : £6.99

Imprint: Bright Pen
Published: Nov 9th 2010
ISBN (Paperback editions): 0755212878
ISBN-13 (Paperback editions): 9780755212873

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1 comment:

  1. for a minute there, i thought this was going to be about the pottery!


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