“When a professional hitman turns up at Candy’s World to hide, China Mackie discovers her plan to flee from her abusive father has tragically backfired. A gruesome bloodbath has left four people dead on the streets of a northern city centre on a cold wet Sunday morning. China knows she’s next to die. Unless she is more ruthless than everyone else. She must improvise fast. Seduce her father’s assassin. Plead her case so he helps her escape in a fight to the death where rules don’t matter but the consequences do.”
I’m thrilled to be one of the blogs kicking off the blog blitz today for Without Rules by Andrew Field.
Okay. Right. I’ve had to take a little pause and a breather and a step back to think about what I am going to say about this book before I write my review because it has me, in the words of the great AC/DC, a little thunderstruck.
(By the way, if I may digress slightly for a second, I saw this version of Thunderstruck on YouTube a couple of weeks ago which is just genius, I’ve put the video at the end of the post, if you are interested.)
Anyway, now that I have had time to digest the book, I can say that it is one of the most original, interesting, disturbing, gripping, challenging and memorable books I have read this year.
I’ll be honest, when I started it I wasn’t’ sure if I was going to enjoy it and if I’d picked it up before I started blogging, I might have put it to one side to come back to later, but reading to a deadline forces you to persevere and I am really glad I did because once I got in to it I was totally hooked right through to the end.
Looking back, I can pinpoint the issue I had at the start. I started reading this book late at night when I was quite tired, and it was a mistake because this book requires a certain degree of concentration, especially at the beginning when we are introduced to a barrage of new characters in quick succession without a huge amount of introduction as to who they are and we learn a host of startling facts about them extremely quickly. It’s an information overload, verbal machine-gunning if you will, that requires a wide awake brain to process.
Once I came back to the book in the bright light of day, I was quickly sucked in to the story. The plot is extremely fragmented, it jumps around like a demented firecracker and you have to be quick to follow it, but I don’t mind a bit of an intellectual challenge in a novel. Beats sudoku for keeping the old grey matter from atrophying.
None of the characters in this book are going to win any popularity contests. They are all fairly damaged, and many of them are downright nasty, but they are written with personality and intelligence so, likeable or not, you want to keep reading about them and hope for either their redemption or their downfall.
This book is fairly blunt and brutal. There is violence from the very beginning, very bold sexual imagery, rape, graphic murder, sexual abuse and a lot of other stuff that might trigger the more sensitive reader. The author seems unapologetic about it, which makes more sense as you read through and learn more about the characters and their past and what influences their behaviour but be warned. If this were an album it would be labelled ‘Parental Advisory.’
I would normally tell you whether or not I enjoyed this book but I’m not sure ‘enjoy’ is the word I would use here. This book smacks you in the teeth and forces you to pay attention. I was carried on the journey, through all the twists, turns, inversions and barrel rolls, right to the end. It is one I will remember and I am glad I read it. I would recommend it to people with open minds and strong constitutions.
A Little Book Problem
My thanks to Emma Welton at damp pebbles blog tours for inviting me to take part and to the author for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly.