The moment I heard about the Booker win I downloaded it. The opening pages tickled my excitement and curiosity. It was written in the present tense and in the 2nd person. I had never read anything like this before. Elliot Perlman’s Seven Types of Ambiguity (2003) uses the 2nd person in its opening pages but it’s difficult to maintain.
The narrator is flippant, ironic, and mostly humorous. He (?) is talking to Almeida who is dead. He’s been murdered. They are in an In Between place which makes the narrator a ghoul too, but they can only stay here for seven moons before Almeida is reincarnated. The narrator and Almeida ‘fly’ around trying to solve the murder? People can’t see these spirits who flit from scene to scene criticising the police and trying to prick Almeida’s memory.
The excitement of the first few pages wanes very quickly. Every character, ghost or human, speaks with the same light-hearted but critical flippancy, always searching for the next one-liner. They all sound the same. There is no character development. There is no hook on which to hang empathy or interest. I didn’t care about anybody.
At about one hundred pages I stopped. I’m filing this one under Booker Judges Seduced by Newness. It can join the 2015 Booker winner, A Brief History of Seven Killings by Jamaican writer Marlon James.
I was very disappointed.