Sunday 21 August 2016

Book review : The Blackbird Singularity - Matt Wilven

Lyd and Vince have been through every parent's worst nightmare - losing their four-year-old son Charlie to cancer. They have come out of the other side, damaged but still more or less unified. It hasn't been easy to reach this state of relative normality and harmony though. Unable to cope with his grief, Vince had a mental breakdown and has been on lithium ever since. Now Lyd is pregnant again and, without seeking medical advice or even consulting his family, he has decided to stop taking his medication.

As the book is narrated by Vince, it all seems quite lucid, but as he befriends a blackbird, then starts hearing and seeing Charlie in the loft, we realise that he is obviously suffering withdrawal symptoms from the lithium, including hallucinations.

It would have been interesting to have a few chapters from Lyd's perspective to add balance and see Vince through outside eyes, but the scientific paragraphs that open each chapter are presumably supposed to represent her opinion. The ending had me scratching my head because it's very strange but nevertheless the uplifting message, full of promise for the future, comes through loud and clear.

Mental health seems to have become much less of a taboo subject in recent years, but coming off medication is one aspect that is much less frequently covered, despite being an equally important topic to raise awareness of. While Vince's motivations are laudable, I couldn't help but think that they way he went about it was reckless and pretty selfish.

The Blackbird Singularity would be a great novel for book groups to discuss because different people may have conflicting interpretations of the symbolism and may also be in disagreement over what is real and what is imagined in Vince's narrative.

star rating : 4/5

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Legend Press (1 Aug. 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1785079689
  • ISBN-13: 978-1785079689

Disclosure : I received a copy of the book in order to write an honest review.

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