Monday, 24 October 2011

Book review: The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas

My edition: Paperback, published in 2011 by Atlantic Books, 488 pages.

Description: One day, at a suburban barbeque, a man slaps a child who is not his own.

This event has a shocking ricochet effect on a group of people, mostly friends, who are directly or indirectly influenced by the event.

Rating:

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

I do believe that in all my years reviewing books (hundreds of them) I have never given a book just a single star, as I always try to find a redeeming quality in it to push it to 2 or sometimes even 2.5. I suppose there's a first for everything...

This book made me so angry and for all the wrong reasons. It barely touched upon the ethical question of the slap it is titled after and so many reviews quoted on the cover seem to praise it for. Instead it focuses primarily on highly unrealistic and unlikeable characters that are without exception obsessed with sex and regard drug abuse as something deemed a perfectly fine and normal part of life. I am not talking about just weed here either, it varies from taking pills to shooting up. These people absolutely know no boundaries or set them for the children.

Don't get me wrong, I am not a prude or have religious objections towards the subject matter. I have read plenty of novels that deal with drug abuse in a pure and realistic manner but they are usually set in a particular part of society. In this book it was every single character, parents and teenagers, that seemed sex obsessed and have a history of drug abuse. It was just so unrealistic and steered away from the "The Slap".

Writing wise I thought the novel was very poor too. All the important characters get introduced in the first chapter and it's just a jumble of often likewise names which makes it hard to keep track of who is who.

Furthermore, it took me nearly half a book to figure out the age of the boy slapped (which can make a big difference to the ethical dilemma). Some of his characteristics have him pinned as a baby, others as a boy of 9 or 10 years old that really should know better.

In all I really struggled getting through this. It eventually took me well over a week to finish and I normally read 3 or 4 books a week. The storyline was just so pointless that I was actually dreading picking the book up and continuing on with it.

The best advice a potential reader can get is: avoid the novel, it does not live up to its promising title and you won't ever get the hours you wasted on it back.

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