BOOK REVIEW: JOHN LANCHESTER – THE WALL

Today, it’s another review of a book that’s on this year’s Booker Prize long list! And it’s one that I didn’t really like… at all.

Today’s review is centred all around John Lanchester’s The Wall which is one of the long-listed books of this year’s Booker Prize long list. But first, what’s it all about? Here’s the blurb:

Kavanagh begins his life patrolling the Wall. If he’s lucky, if nothing goes wrong, he only has two years of this, 729 more nights.

The best thing that can happen is that he survives and gets off the Wall and never has to spend another day of his life anywhere near it. He longs for this to be over; longs to be somewhere else.

He will soon find out what Defenders do and who the Others are. Along with the rest of his squad, he will endure cold and fear day after day, night after night. But somewhere, in the dark cave of his mind, he thinks: wouldn’t it be interesting if something did happen, if they came, if you had to fight for your life?

John Lanchester’s thrilling, hypnotic new novel is about why the young are right to hate the old. It’s about a broken world you will recognise as your own-and about what might be found when all is lost.

I’m really disappointed with this book, to be honest. This got my attention straight away when it was first published and I first straight away: ‘Oh that will be on the Booker long-list this year!’ so I thought I’d keep it and wait for the long-list to be announced and it was! And… well, I really didn’t like it, I hated it at times, well, pretty much of all of it.

But let’s focus on the positives for a second. I think this has a good premise and that’s really interesting but… it just fell flat for me. I just felt that he was too focused on trying to make it current/political and part of today’s social conscience but it just didn’t have room to breathe. I felt the writing was repetitive and a bit heavy-handed. And I think you could argue that this is the point with it being repetitive – it symbolising Kavanagh’s time on the Wall – the same routine again and again… but it just didn’t work for me. It’s a book that grabs your attention but then you can skim pretty much a lot of it.

It also felt very cliche and I cringed a lot when reading especially with the young vs the old generations which just felt… annoying. It just didn’t add any purpose for me. His ideas are trying to be realistic and that this could happen or it is happening… but I felt he could have been a bit more creative in his ideas and the execution of them. And I’ve seen a few people complain about the ending and that didn’t bother me that much to be honest. It’s a bit cheesy yes but I was just glad it ended, to be honest.

I hate being negative in my reviews but I like to be honest and I just really didn’t enjoy this novel which is a shame because I thought it would be a perfect read for me. The writing was clumsy, heavy handed and the characters (I honestly couldn’t tell you any of the characters other than Kavanagh) and story didn’t have room to breathe. It’s pretty obvious to me that this is only on the long-list because of the topical ideas but in terms of a work of fiction, there are so many books they could have chosen for the long-list.

So, I didn’t like this book but perhaps it might work for you but sadly it didn’t for me. I don’t think this will be on the shortlist but if it does, I’ll be very shocked.

Have you read The Wall? Did you have a better experience with it than me? Let me know in the comments!

Thank you,

Corey.

P.S. The shortlist for the Booker Prize will be announced on 3rd September 2019 with the winner announced on 14th October 2019. If you missed my review for other long-listed novel, Night Boat to Tangier, you can check that out here. Also, if you’re making your way through the long-list, I made this where you can tick/cross/scribble out the novels you have read to keep track.

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