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Occupied Paperback – October 20, 2015
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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"Occupied follows the lives of four main characters; a refugee, native, settler and economic migrant, all of whom are affected by these divisions. At their core, each character is the same; they all face the same challenges, react in the same ways, and feel the same emotions. But their different labels and alternative backgrounds provide barriers which stop them from ever uniting.
It would be easy to focus on this theme, which runs through Occupied. But to do so would be to miss the artistry of the novel; the characters which often remind us of ourselves, the scenery which bursts into life, and the subplots which fill every page. Occupied is a story of individual hope against collective despair, and with that comes a certain sense of optimism; a determination to be the best you can. The four main characters have to battle against the trauma of forced marriages, displacement and physical abuse, but they become stronger as a result of experiencing such hardships."
3rd March 2016
"Occupied operates in an ethereal plane; real enough to make it feel relevant, yet mysterious enough to imbue it with warmth.The reader evolves with the four main characters as they travel through life; standing in their shoes and feeling their pain. For despite its darkness, Occupied is also full of light. The love between the characters is easily relatable to the love we often feel in own our lives, and the poetic descriptions buzz with energy and life. Occupied really is a unique work of dystopian fiction, and a must-read for any lover of radical literature."
23rd February 2016
"The way it was written meant that even if someone has no pre-existing knowledge of Palestine, the Kurdish question and Tibet, they would have still enjoyed it and still understood the reasoning behind the anti-colonial and anti-capitalist sentiments behind the book."
Middle East Monitor
11th December 2016
"Occupied is a candid and disquieting look at the idea of freedom and its limits around the world."
4th January 2016
About the Author
Joss Sheldon is a scruffy nomad, an unshaven layabout, and a good for nothing hobo. Born in 1982, he was bought up in one of the anonymous suburbs which wrap themselves around London's beating heart. And then he escaped.
With a degree from the London School of Economics to his name, Sheldon had spells selling falafel at music festivals, being a ski-bum, and failing to turn the English Midlands into a haven of rugby league.
Before, in 2013, he went to McLeod Ganj in India; a village which plays home to thousands of angry monkeys, hundreds of Tibetan refugees, and the Dalai Lama himself. It was there, wrapped up in a blanket which featured some animated teddies, that Sheldon wrote his first two novels; 'Involution & Evolution' and ‘Occupied’.
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Top customer reviews
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While this story qualifies as a satire, I did feel that I would have gotten quite a bit more out of it if I was more knowledgeable on Middle East politics (past and present). For the most part, the story stood on it’s own though I admit that I often lost track of which character is a Godly versus a Holy. I had the feeling that the underlying alluded to politics were more important than the story and I really just wanted to be swept up into the tale.
There is a lot of repetition in this book. Lots. That is the main thing that kept me from getting caught up in this book. If the book was 1/3 to 1/2 as long I feel that it would have more of punch, the important scenes would hit harder, and there would be more poignancy to the disturbing bits. All those things exist in the book as it is but you have to wade through the repetition to get to them.
The last fifth of the book was my favorite. It takes us into a near-future view of a consumer driven society. It definitely had that Brave New World vibe which I quite enjoyed. Also, I didn’t feel I had to be knowledgeable about certain politics to get what the story was telling me. This was the most chilling part of the book because there’s a society-encompassing apathy whereas the rest of the book has plenty of emotions flying around as one wrong is done after another, usually in the name of Right.
So, all told, I’m glad I finished it and I can see how fans of the satire genre would be interested in checking this book out. While the repetition and my lack of great knowledge on the politics alluded to made this book a bit of a chore to get through, it did end on a very strong note that resonated with me. 3.5/ 5 stars.
The Narration: Jack Wynters gave a decent performance. He had some accents and some voice range though not all of his characters were distinctly performed. He sounded interested in the story for the entire book never going deadpan bored. The pacing was good and there were no technical issues with the recording. 4/5 stars.
➜ This audiobook was received at no-cost from Audiobookworm Promotions. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.
Occupied illustrates refugee and migrant experiences with shocking clarity, but balances that with thoughtful understanding of many points of view. We also hear from Ellie whose town is overrun with refugees and Aaron who is just as much a refugee, but identifies as a settler and is therefore privileged. The book is ostensibly set in Palestine, but I was also reminded of other recent reads of mine set in apartheid South Africa, British Empire India and segregated Alabama. Sheldon's themes of unjustified blame and enmity based on something as arbitrary as religion or cultural background are a depressingly familiar part of humanity and I liked how he showed that, in the end, everyone was just as screwed, regardless of from where they had started!
Sheldon writes of extreme violence, war and persecution, torture and brutal neglect. Big businesses and cultural leaders are warped and re-presented to show their true colours, but there is wonderfully dry humour scattered across the horror too and glimpses of positive sides to humanity. It's certainly not all doom and gloom. Renamed corporations are fun and spotting nods to other novels is satisfying. Occupied is not a book to be entered lightly, but it is one that is very difficult to put aside once started and I will certainly be offering it as a suggestion to anyone asking for recommendations, probably for months to come. I loved relating the skewed world of the book to our own world and experienced a few uncomfortable moments as I recognised aspects of myself. I think Occupied will turn out to be my book of the month and I wouldn't be surprised if it is my book of the year too.
Most recent customer reviews
Praise to the author's word ability to convey vivid descriptions of imagination which transports the reader...Read more