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While certainly a dark novel, Hungry Rats manages to avoid ever falling into the trap of melodrama. With a writing style somewhere between poetry and post modernism, the novel reads like the most twisted nightmare, yet remains grounded enough in reality to hold a reader`s interest and leaving them deliciously perturbed. This is not the average, generic serial killer novel. Hungry Rats begs to be re-read, and analyzed and dissected, right down to the clearly symbolic surname of the main character. For some it may get a bit too cerebral, the philosophizing becoming distracting from the violent and fascinating plot.
Complex and original, Hungry Rats is a treat for the mind, standing out amongst the hordes of repetitive and unimaginative supermarket fiction. If it suffers from any real flaw, it is that it ended too quickly. The author could have taken either Meredith's journey or her ancestor's struggles and adapted them into full length novels on their own. Together, though, they create a fascinating whole.
But the good parts that I liked are many. I certainly liked the final section and the ending - I don't wish to reveal the ending, but it makes up for all the dragging that goes on in the first half. Connor's writing style is innovative and impressive. The POV changes from one section to another, which I think Connor has adopted boldly. Meredith's character has a great change, from a somewhat timid girl in the beginning to a decisive and confident person later.
The novel is not without its challenges. Indeed, it takes a few pages to fully immerse oneself in Coyne's unique world. The book itself is composed of three parts, each a bit of a stand-alone yet interdependent of the others.
The first part is a second-person account of a teenage outcast trying to understand her connection with a rising serial killer. It works far better than it has any right to on paper. Coyne has managed use a device best known for choose-your-own-adventure stories with the single most over-used topic of the last 20 years and turn it into involving, fascinating and uncompromising literature.
The jump to the second act can be a bit jarring. We change narrators, subject matter and time-period. This part is about whorehouses, sociopaths and lumberjacks and is told by two first person narrators. The switching back and forth between narrators comes without warning and does not afford the reader a device like change of font or color to track the two. In the end, it is still fairly easy to tell which character is talking. The story itself is evocative of "Deadwood", but with darker and more twisted (!) leads.
The third part doesn't work as well for me, but that is mainly a matter of personal preference. It feels speculative and nebulous, a bit train of thought. Still, I have to appreciate a story that is willing to not give out easy answers and wrap things up for the reader.
All and all, Hungry Rats is a thoroughly mesmerizing story that makes me want to check out the writer's future projects.
Most recent customer reviews
Bella has nothing on Meredith Malady. Seriously, this novel is part poem, part Sweeney-Todd drunken butcher's opera, with a dash of logging-town...Read more