Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Book Review: Alice and the Fly by James Rice

Alice and the Fly
By James Rice
Published by Hodder & Stoughton
Available in hardback and ebook
Paperback is forthcoming

Jame Rice's debut novel, Alice and the Fly, is a haunting, and sometimes uncomfortable read about overwhelming fears, and the way we let them consume us.

Greg, a young teenage boy doesn't have many friends, and at home his family are too wrapped up in their troubles. Mum is obsessed with interior design and trying to maintain the exterior of a fun, happy family, while Dad likes to stay late at work and employ young secretaries. And his sister, who tries to avoid Greg, stays in her bedroom practicing her dance moves for a school show. His family life is disconnected, and full of secrets which need to be kept hidden - there are problems simmering on the surface of all of the family members but nobody wants to tackle any of the tension or fear. They are all pretending that life is fine, and are unwilling to accept that Greg is nearly ready to crack. I found I wanted to shake the shoulders of Greg's family and tell them to stop being so self-obsessed - their son needs them.

Greg's obsession, and isolation expands his phobia of spiders or 'them' as Greg likes to call the spiders - his bedroom has tape across any potential gaps, he has seizures if a spider is too close. Not even the medication can stop the overwhelming fear. At times, Rice's novel reminded me of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time but if I'm honest, I found this to be the better novel. 

Greg's mind isn't a nice place to be but things start to change, and Greg's obsession with 'them' starts to develop into something new. Alice, a popular girl at school smiles at him on the bus and Greg finds himself in love. An obsession, more consuming than his fear of spiders, takes hold and won't let him go. This is a novel about going to the brink, and toppling over the edge. 

This really is a powerful book which doesn't slip into sentimentality but maintains a tense hold over the reader right up to the last page, and even beyond. This is chilling read but Alice and the Fly is beautifully written and this book will make you think about the way we treat each other, and it will make you think about what we do to give the appearance that we are normal. 

This is an intriguing read, which will draw you into the complicated world of Greg and his obsessions. Alice and the Fly is available to buy from your favourite bookshop.

I was sent a copy by Bookbridgr

1 comment:

Matthew Selwyn said...

I think you've summed this book up really well when you write that it is about the fears that consume us. It's not just Greg who is under the spotlight, after all, the whole cast of characters are. I was lucky enough to interview the author a few days ago (Interview with James Rice) and he had some interesting thoughts on this. It is a strong debut with some interesting ideas.