BOOK REVIEW – Bête by Adam Roberts

Imagine, if every time an animal was to be killed it could talk back to you…intelligently…with the mind and ability to reason with you. Just imagine that for a second.

This is the exact opening of this book, a man is about to kill a cow but instead of what would usually happen the cow decides to speak up in an attempt to discuss life and death and his right to continue to live. However, the ‘killer’ begins to think that be may be about to commit murder, but that doesn’t stop him…he kills anyway!

This all started when an animal rights movement injected animals with AI with the sole aim of giving animals the same quality of life as humans, with the same choices and freedom. That’s all good and well but where does that leave this new breed of animal…are they actually autonomous or and they machines?

As a reflection on the growing concern that we have for the welfare of animals and the increased pressure on natural resources, Bête provides us with a fictionalised account of what would happen if animals could answer back and be accountable for their own future.

When I started reading this I suspected that the novelty of talking animals would be the basis of the whole book and there would be little substance thereafter but I was completely wrong. Bête is a fantastic work of fiction that is funny, insightful and more importantly…important! Focusing on real life issues that we face today, this is a work of genius that I thoroughly enjoyed.

From the award winning author of Jack Glass, this is certainly worth a good read and is something different from the normal realms of fiction. if you’re looking for a book that you’ll both enjoy and that will make you think then this is for you.

Buy from
Out now from Gollancz
ISBN: 9780575127685


GUEST BOOK REVIEW – Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Having loved the first book Divergent and thinking the second book Insurgent was average, I dived into the final book ‘Allegiant’ with curiosity and an open mind, as I was hoping to rekindle my love for this series that the first book generated.
Tris has now joined the Allegiant and decides to leave Chicago, the city ruined by rebellion and greed. However, what is outside the fence isn’t much better. I felt that my questions about the world Tris lived in were finally being answered, but then as I read on, I got a little disappointed, as I was left with more unanswered questions.

We finally hear Tobias’ point of view, but it is not what I expected. It changes my view of him into someone who is not as fearless as we first think. The writing style is too similar to when we read from Tris’ viewpoint. I was hoping to find out more about the fearless Four and who he really is, but he just kept making the same silly mistakes he does in ‘Insurgent’. However, having his viewpoint does help the reader to sympathise with him, which is necessary for later events in the novel.

However, I was gripped to the actual story and characters. Allegiant definitely has more action than the second book and is far more interesting now that we know what is outside the ‘fence’, but I have mixed views about the ending. I can’t quite work it out. I can’t quite understand whether it is good or bad. Having read lots of negative reviews for this, I can agree with them to some extent about the ending. I even read Veronica Roth’s blog, hoping to get answers. But the fact remains there are no ‘real’ answers. I can say that the ending was a shock, but whether I have disappointment or admiration for Roth, I do not know. Ask me in a week and I might think differently. This is what is stopping me giving the book full marks.

This book is definitely memorable though and the world outside the fence and the problems in it really open up the readers’ eyes to their own lives. It is quite realistic in a sense and I do admire Roth for not being afraid to write a book about humanity’s faults. For the gripping story itself, the interesting characters in the dystopian-yet-believable world created by Roth and the overall compelling series, I do recommend it. Just read it with a box of tissues and an open mind.

Buy from
Out now from Harper Collins Children’s Books
ISBN: 9780007524273

BOOK REVIEW – Books by Charlie Hill

Anger by name Angry by nature. Richard Anger is the owner of a small independent bookshop in the suburbs on Birmingham, where he is constantly fighting against the state of the modern publishing industry. Having been left alone by his girlfriend, whom she left for another man, Richard is at the end of his tether, book sales are down and so is he. As much a professional bookseller as he is an alcoholic, he has to find something or someone who can keep him from tipping over the edge.

While attempting to relax on a short break in Corfu, he is witness to the collapse and ultimate death of another holiday-maker, who just so happens to be reading a manuscript by novelist Gary Sayles. Gary Sayles is someone who Richard really doesn’t like and I mean really. His books are boring, easy, stuffed with rubbish….lazy writing at its finest. Richard is not alone at the scene of the death as there is also another witness in the form of Neurology Professor; Lauren Furrows.

Lauren begins to investigate the apparent accidental death and soon realises that it all ties into something that she is currently working on, a neurological condition known to her at SNAPS. The investigation leads them to believe that bad fiction, such as that written by Gary Sayles, could possibly…also definitely kill you! Could Gary Sayles’ books be the cause of the death? Would you need to read a whole book or just a few words?

Books by Charlie Hill is an often laugh-out-loud novel that is expertly crafted to include fantastic characters, twists, turns and drama at every page turn. Richard is the type of character that you both want to hug and punch at the same time and perhaps Lauren is the perfect candidate for that role. Secondary characters Pippa and Zeke are like no one you’ve ever met…well no one I’ve ever met anyway, thankfully. Satirical and just really very good, there’s not much more I can say for this.

Fellow Brummies, such as myself, will also enjoy the home-town references laced throughout the book. In all honesty this is, for me, is one of those rare finds that I legitimately love!

Buy from
Out now Tindal Street Press
ISBN: 9781781251638