Book Review: Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin

Fever Dream was shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize in 2017, it is a complex, and almost surreal story, which leaves you with more questions than it gives you answers. The multi-layered nature of this story (a story, within a story, within a story) makes it tricky to jump into its depths at first, especially when we are being told of Carla recounting a tale to Amanda; but after a while you get used to the disorienting intertwined narratives, all told from the perspective of Amanda’s internal dialogue.

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It is important to note that without any background context, it may be difficult to garner any sense of what is going on with the characters of this story, so to clarify, from around the early 2000s, many tragedies began arising in Argentina due to the pesticide used in the cultivation of genetically modified soy – “including high rates of birth defects as well as infertility, stillbirths, miscarriages, and cancers. Environmental effects include killed food crops and livestock and streams strewn with dead fish.” As I read the book with this knowledge in mind, it helped me to put the pieces together and form my own conclusion as to what is really happening within this book.

Some of them were born already poisoned, from something their mothers breathed in the air, or ate or touched.                                                        ~ p. 124

Now, to my more in-depth analysis. Spoilers ahead…

In my opinion the italicised voice, which we first believe to be David, is Amanda’s inner subconscious – her second voice so to speak. He answers almost as Amanda throughout, and as the story progresses, becomes Amanda, going on to finish off her retelling of the events which led to her present predicament. The more I read on, the more I truly believed that both voices were her, so that we the reader is left with numerous  versions of the ‘I’ – the reader as the spectator, watching the whole story unravel, the reader as Amanda, the first person internal dialogue making you feel as if you are in Amanda’s head, Amanda herself, Amanda as David, David, and Carla’s story as transmitted through Amanda. The David voice is perhaps a way to evade the truth, a form of escapism, which in the end does help Amanda, and thus the reader, to finally attain the truth, the completion of the story; his italicised voice disappears when Amanda’s does.

This variety of voices contributes to the book’s very nightmarish dream-like feel, which becomes more evident at the very end, as Amanda approaches death and her ‘symptoms’ intensify, to the point where her present and past all merge into one, and we get a sense of rocking back and forth in her memory as she  attempts to replay these in her hallucinatory state.

I’m confused, I’m mixing up times.                ~ p. 87

It is unclear whether the events outlined in the story are a compete figment of Amanda’s imagination or bits of reality placed into a dream setting, emphasised by her sickened state. Did she ever have a daughter called Nina? What happened to Nina? I concluded that Nina, like Amanda, had also died,  something highlighted by the fact that Nina is soaked with the same “poison” water as her mother, and the epilogue-like story at the end, when Amanda’s husband goes to question Carla’s husband about the disease that plagued his wife and daughter. I believe that the ‘waiting room’ in the story is a metaphysical waiting room, a kind of limbo for all those affected by the disease, their names written on the wall like a memorial plaque.

A key point which I was aware of is that many of the names on this wall were written “by one of the nurses. The people whose names they are, they can’t write, almost none of them can” (p. 100).  This suggests that many of those affected by the disease in the book are illiterate, they come from rural families, mostly the  poor. This is emphasised by the fact that Amanda, who comes from the city and can afford to go on vacation, had no knowledge of this disease, whilst Carla was very aware of it. This distinction is also underlined by the fact that Carla believes in folk medicine and in the power of ‘the woman in the green house’ to heal, while Amanda, probably more educated, is sceptical.

Aside from the surrealist nature of Fever Dream, another key theme within is the mother and child bond. Throughout the book, Amanda is conscious of how far she is from her daughter at all times, we could even argue that she is obsessed with the fact, something highlighted by the original Spanish title of this book ‘Distancia de Rescate’ (the rescue distance). Amanda is hyper-aware of all potential dangers which may harm her daughter and where her young daughter is at all times, the metaphorical rope tensing if Nina should move away from the distance of possible rescue. However, the one thing Amanda cannot avoid, and the thing she fails to  notice, is disease and death, something indiscriminate which despite all  the care and worry in the world, affects us all; it is the one thing she cannot protect her daughter from – nature itself.

Overall I believe the book to be though-provoking  in that it creates empathy for the characters and events of the story, while remaining  surrealist and completely open to interpretation, which in my opinion means that every reader will have a completely different experience of this book. I recommend that everyone who gets the chance should read it, especially as it is a quick read (it is only 150 or so pages long) so that you may make up your own conclusion as well as inform yourself on the terrible effects that GMOs are having in the world, and in Argentina in this particular case.

If you have any understanding of Spanish, I recommend watching this video;  a very interesting interview about the book with the author, Samanta Schweblin.

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#BangingBookClub: Asking For It by Louise O’Neill

So Youtubers Hannah Witton, Leena Norms and Lucy Moon are  running a book reading club called #BangingBookClub. As opposed to making a video, I’ll be participating via my blog!

Their video review

The first in this year’s list is…

Asking For It by Louise O’Neil

**trigger warning:novel contains rape and descriptions of self-harm**

{Blog post will be referencing these}


Is it possible to want everything to change and nothing to change, all at the same time?

This book got me thinking a lot about how we treat victims of rape, how every societal institution plays their part in victim blaming, through the eyes of the media, the law, local communities, and family & friends etc.

Admittedly, yes, the main character Emma was portrayed as an absolute bitch from the very beginning: she belittled her own friends, bullied her fellow students, and was generally a right pain in the arse. However, that dislike of her character I had felt at the start instantly disappeared once she became a victim.

While she wasn’t there for Jamie, her friend who also tells her that she was raped,she soon learns what it actually means to be. None of her friends are truly there for her, although after some initial hostility her friends talk to her again, there is still a sense of blame from them (Ali: “forgives” her for sleeping with Sean, the guy she fancies, the guy who rapes Emma).

Her parents are also very oblivious to how their behaviour is affecting their daughter. Emma’s Father ignores her completely, again reinforcing this feeling of self-blame within Emma, while her Mother turns to alcohol and becomes a victim instead of staying strong for her daughter who is an actual victim, always stopping short at ‘this wouldn’t have happened if… [you hadn’t gotten raped]’. Reading this through Emma’s eyes made me feel like nobody cared for her wants and needs, even when she decides to withdraw her complaint to please her parents, I felt like it was not what she truly wanted.

Media hysteria, and in this day and age, social media also, play a part in victim blaming, highlighted through the the snippets of the Ned O’Dwyer show that Emma eavesdrops on and sensationalist newspapers she finds.  

  •  What did she expect?
  •  Wearing skirts up to their arses
  •  She was asking for trouble

These kind of questions and thinking are preventing young women in situations like Emma’s from being helped.

Even religion’s part in the treatment of rape victims is criticised in the novel, with Father Michael, the book’s local priest, openly shaking hands with and giving his condolences to the perpetrators. I don’t want to go too much into it but I feel like many fundamentalist thinkers see women as temptresses, thus again enforcing this stereotype that women who are raped are to be blamed, especially in Catholic communities in Ireland like Ballinatoom, where the book is set in (which I can’t help thinking sounds like a fictitious Cbeebies town!)

The only characters who fully understand, or attempt to understand Emma, and are completely there for her throughout are Bryan (her brother) and Conor, whom are ironically both male (I’m not sure if O’Neill did this on purpose or not!)

Another thing which shocked me was how much the small community they lived in mattered to the issue so much, an aspect I hadn’t considered having lived in a city all my life. The fact that everybody knew each other  and that the perpetrators were considered to be ‘good local boys’ added to the disbelief of the fact that Emmie had been raped,her  Mother even going as far as to say that she didn’t understand how it could have happened because “he dressed nicely”.

And finally, I’d just like to comment on the injustice of the law that allowed Emma’s abusers to still walk free in her community and allowed them to continue harassing her. How is this allowed? I don’t completely know how the Irish justice system works in comparison to other parts of the UK or how claims of rape are dealt with, but the fact that abusers can get away with their behaviour and continue harassing and abusing is completely absurd to me.

I liked the use of the repetition of negative phrases throughout the book which Emma had heard and read about her, as it showed how much the negativity around her had impacted upon her, which I thought perfectly depicted the anxiety aspects of depression, the words going around and around in her head, squeezing into every part of your brain and chest, rendering you worthless and necessary, at least mentally anyway.

The novel ends on an ambiguous note, atypical of normal books, but it serves to indicate that it is not all rainbows and sunshine for victims like Emma, like all the Emmas of the world, who still have a long way to go and a lot of healing to go through.

I  really enjoyed this novel. I’m glad I read it as it gave me a lot to think about and really presented ideas of rape in a very thought provoking manner.

Thoughts? Have any of you read this before or would like to?


If you’ve been affected by any of the issues talked about here///

If you or someone else is in immediate danger, call the Police on 999.

NHS Direct Helpline ‐ 24 hour medical advice and information service: 111

Alternatively, you can contact several voluntary organisations for emotional support:

The Samaritans | 0845 790 9090 |

Saneline |0845 767 8000 |

RoI Rape Crisis Centre | 1800 77 8888 |

UK Rape and Sexual Abuse Support Centre | 0808 802 9999 |

Don’t forget to follow!

Until next time,
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A Little Christmas Message + TBT#9: Scribbleboy by Philip Ridley

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A Little Christmas Message

So I know sometimes how hard it is when people are telling you to “be happy, it’s Christmas!” and you just can’t. But try and distract yourself as much as you can. Do things you enjoy, read a book (eh!), watch a film or binge on some shows – whatever it takes. And try and relax as much as possible! I mean it’s not every day you get to watch endless movies over a period of time without feeling guilty!

And of course, eat yummy food and spend plenty of time with family and friends.

I wish all my lovely readers a happy holidays and a merry Christmas!

And now on with the show!

TBT #9: Scribbleboy by Philip Ridley


I really like Philip Ridley, not because he wrote Kindlebrax (that’s the book we read in year 3) but because he has really imaginative ideas for his stories. I can’t believe Scibbleboy (well, Scribblegirl) was actually Tiffany, Monty’s fionce [sic] (now his wife), at the beggining, end [sic] I thought it was Bailey’s ancestors, since Bailey was as good as scribbling as Scribblegirl.

I would never want a mum like Ziggy’s who every time she feels she needs cheering up or feels like it puts on disco music and makes everyone dance by saying things like “Come on!”, “Let’s shimmy and shake!”, “Strutt your stuff!” .

But not only,that, every character in the book has their own way of speaking.


Nice chant at the end there I guess!?

I tended to go on many tangents and just leave them abruptly and move on to the next one.  I hope I’m not like that still!

Anywho. Last Throwback Thursday of 2015! (I’ve got something a little different for next week)

Hasta luego,

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#6 Book Review: Daughter by Jane Shemilt

Firstly…HELLO NEW FOLLOWERS! Thanks for following and I hope you enjoy all my content and all the stuff there is to come! Now to continue…


I first picked up this book because I saw it advertised on an underground billboard (great reasoning eh!?) and to an extent, it did not disappoint.

While I was confused at first with the back and forth of the timeline (the book jumps between before and after the daughter’s disappearance) after I got into it I honestly started to enjoy it. Finding out about the characters, gaining clues as to what had happened, and what Naomi might have been doing the weeks before her disappearance…

…Then the middle happened. I don’t know why but it seemed to drag on for a while and I really had to push myself to reach the last section. All she seemed to do was paint, visit her neighbour and talk to her neighbour’s grandson (riveting).  In addition, her fling with family liaison officer went nowhere, except to reveal that he was a bit racist in the end…

However, I definitely started to enjoy it near the end, during the 13 months later section when it got closer to the conclusion. And let me tell you – it was a rather surprising ending! Like I have a love-hate relationship with that ending – on one side I’m super happy that she didn’t die, however, I don’t understand why Naomi would choose to make the choice she made (despite her parents constantly working, her home life was rather good!) , or why the mother seemingly chooses to do nothing about the discovery after she finds out that the information the police have is wrong.

So overall, I don’t regret reading it, but I gained nothing out of it either!

Has anybody read this? Did you have similar opinions? Would you read this if you haven’t read it? Opinions welcome!

Update + Are We Really All Charlie?

The first bit is just a little update and explanation for my absence. If you want to see the actual blog post feel free to skip the beginning 🙂


You can say it. I’m horrible and I lied. I won’t judge you. But yes, all these great plans I had went down the drain. I sincerely apologise. I honestly do.The summer holidays (or ‘vacation’ for you Americans) turned into the new school year, which then turned into the Christmas holidays, after which I had mock exams to prepare for, and before long I realised that I’d left my blog abandoned for five months. This 2015 I decided that it was time to get my act together and one of my resolutions (which always turn out so well) is to write more. So here goes. I shall not make any schedule promises for fear of disappointment, mainly to myself. So here goes to a year of great blogging!

…And here’s the actual blog post

Masses of people turn up in their thousands across every main landmark in every main city in the world. All loaded with their many signs and words and coated in a suit of solidarity. ‘Je Suis Charlie’ they chant, huddled together and screaming freedom in their loads. A plethora of flags stand out against the greying crowds; unity, compassion, and understanding. Together they form a wall of unmovable magnitude; a bankrupt magazine becomes one million, then three, and five million it produces.  ‘All is forgiven’.

‘Is it really?’ one asks oneself. Look at it this way. I condemn murder with every beat of my heart, for whatever reason it may be and whatever reasons are given. Killing is absolutely and undoubtedly wrong. But so are abuse, hatred and discrimination. If I were to call someone ugly in school, or in the workplace, that is unquestionably offensive. If I criticised their appearance again and again that would be called bullying, a form of abuse, and would still be deemed offensive, even hateful.  That behaviour would not be tolerated and it would certainly not be categorised under freedom of speech, because even though, yes, we are each entitled to our own opinions, outwardly speaking an opinion that is deemed as hurtful is frowned upon. We are taught from a young age that bullying is wrong, that we should be kind and love one another, and if there really is someone we don’t like, which is inevitably true to everyone, to keep our thoughts to ourselves and “beat them with kindness”.

So why is this any different? This magazine which has continuously published sexist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic material, material that causes offence and incites hatred, is accepted and fought for. If abuse is not permitted on an individual basis, it certainly should not be permitted on a mass basis, where even more people are hurt by it. There is a line between simply being allowed to speak out about your political or musical opinions, and disrespecting huge populations of the world. There is no humour in being spiteful.

Why are we all demonstrating under the name of a magazine that injured and made fun of so many people’s cultures and beliefs? Why can’t we all be Ahmed, the Muslim police officer who died in defending the very people who offended his religion, or Lassana Bathily, who hid customers during the supermarket shootings, saving 15 precious lives?

We should strive to aim for global unity,a unity that can’t be attained whilst hatred continues to exist, and we should honour those who act selflessly to protect others.

So finally: ‘Je suis l’unité’