Thursday, 17 May 2018

Book review : Tubing - K. A. McKeagney

Tubing is K. A. McKeagney's debut novel and is described on the publisher's website as a "contemporary, sexually-charged psychological thriller" that could be likened to a blend of Girl on the Train and Appletree Yard, sprinkled with 50 Shades of Gray. I would say it's pretty undefinable in terms of literary genre but it's certainly gripping, chilling and very unsettling. If you're uncomfortable reading some fairly graphic sex scenes, it may not be your thing though. 

The first chapter sets the scene and pulls no punches. After being let down by her boyfriend of three years on their anniversary and going to a wine bar with a friend, Polly is on the way home on the Tube. An attractive stranger catches her eye and, seconds later, they are having a furtive fumble in the corner of the train. Polly is a willing participant and, when the handsome stranger whispers "meet me again" in her ear before getting off at the next stop, she knows that this is an experience she wants to repeat. With all the recent publicity surrounding the #MeToo movement and the Harvey Weinstein scandal in the USA, then the French report that over 260,000 people (85% of them women) were sexually harassed on public transport between 2014 and 2015, including kissing, groping, flashing and rape, this didn't quite sit right with me. Presenting women as wanting and actively encouraging sexual advances from complete strangers on public transport seems like a dangerous step in the wrong direction.

Polly, however, is electrified, thrilled and desperate to reconnect with her handsome stranger. She soon learns about the secret world of Tubing, where people post online with the #tubing hashtag and the station of their choice to set up these fleeting and very public sexual encounters. Rapidly disillusioned but nevertheless completely hooked, Polly continues playing this dangerous game but soon discovers that she is actually nothing more than a pawn on someone else's chessboard. As her life spirals out of control and she realises that she is in grave danger, how far will she have to go to reclaim her life?

I have no idea if tubing actually exists, but it is entirely feasible, which just makes the whole novel even more chilling. My one regret is that Polly is not more likeable as a character. She is a very fragile and damaged woman - she bears the scars of anorexia and bulimia, a vicious and abusive mother and presumably, as she takes to banging her head against the wall in moments of stress, some mental health issues - but she is also cynical, self-absorbed and considers herself completely guiltless throughout the whole novel. Not once does she stop to consider her boyfriend in all of this, and, once she turns herself into basically an unpaid prostitute, it is very hard to empathise with her, even without being judgemental.

Even without liking Polly, it is still an intriguing, compelling and fast-paced novel that I found unputdownable. It is a story that will stay with you long after you have turned the final page and will definitely make you look over your shoulder every time you use public transport !

star rating : 4.5/5

RRP : £8.99

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: RedDoor Publishing Ltd (10 May 2018)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1910453560

Check out the rest of the #Tubing blogtour.

Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.

1 comment:

  1. Hmm, probably not for me, I'm not a big fan of graphic sex descriptions, and the senseless sexual encounters on the train would most likely give me the rage. :)


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