Book, Review

Phone ~ Will Self

Initially I was drawn to this by its simplistic cover and title; its actually the third in a trilogy which I didn’t realise it but a quick google suggested that not having read the previous books wouldn’t be a massive issue; having finished it I’d agree in that you get quite a lot of character introduction and backstory in this book, perhaps people who’ve read the previous two may get more out of it but I didn’t feel like I was missing out.

The layout is like nothing I’ve ever read before, essentially this is a 620 pages of continuous text; no paragraphs, no chapters – nothing. After ten minutes of reading I was fairly adamant I wouldn’t be able to finish it but I actually pleasantly surprised as one of the benefits of the continuous-ness is that when I actually have time to read without distraction or the need of a ‘I’ll go until the end of the chapter’ stopping point I actually found it quite easy to get lost in.

There’s very little structure to the book, it rambles and tangents in all sorts of directions; Phone resolves around a handful of main characters, Dr Zack Busden, who’s technology savvy, autistic grandson Ben has set him up with a new mobile which he’s been firmly instructed not to lose; Ben’s mother Camilla who finds herself stuck between her son and her schizophrenic husband relying on the support of her unusual father-in-law. MI6’s Johnathan ‘The Butcher’ De’Ath and Gawain Thomas, army Colonel who is continuing to try and hide his long-term affair with Jonathan from his wife, three children and the rest of the army. Through these characters there are some fairly serious themes explored, obviously a main one is technology and how having mobile phones has both positively and negatively impacted our lives and how dependent we’ve become upon them. Others include, autism, dementia, paranoia, sexuality, war just to name a few.

This isn’t a book I would generally recommend unless I knew someone well enough to judge whether they would a) get it or b) have the patience to get into it properly. After quite a bit of deliberation, I gave this 3 stars but I am glad I’ve read it as a bit of a personal challenge in trying something completely different.

Phone is now available in paperback as well as kindle and audiobook.  Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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