Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Release Day Review: A Trick of the Light


A Trick of the LightAuthor: Lois Metzger
Release date: June 18th 2013
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Hardcover, 208 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository

Mike Welles had everything under control. He was a good student, an outfielder on the baseball team, a good son, a loyal friend. But that was before. Now things are rough at home, and they’re getting confusing at school. He’s losing his sense of direction, and he feels like a mess.Then there’s a voice in his head. A friend, trying to help him regain control. More than that: The voice can guide him to be better and stronger than he was before, to rid his life of everything holding him back. To figure out who he is again. If only Mike will listen.
Writing with devastating power and precision, acclaimed author Lois Metzger gives us the story of one young man’s battle with his own shadows—a spare, stark, and vital tale of the way in which the things we build to protect ourselves can threaten to destroy us.

A Trick of the Light is a short and terrifying read. Very few things are more dangerous than lack of self-confidence, more frightening than a distorted self-image. In truth, if I were to make a list of the oddest books I’ve read in my life, this one would be at the very top. It is such a strange little book that will probably have a niche audience, but easily found myself among its fans.

It’s not the plot or the characters that will make or break this book for most readers, it’s the choice of a narrator. Instead of making Mike the narrator of this story, Metzger decided to give voice to his eating disorder, a constant nagging presence in his head. In its own words, this voice knows Mike better than he knows himself and it thinks it has Mike’s best interests at heart. The voice is stalkerish and creepy, and even life-threatening at times.
Mike and I are closer than twins; we are one, a team sharing the same space. He is the physical manifestation of me, and I am the best part of him.

This is my first book by Lois Metzger so I can’t be sure whether her writing style is usually this sparse or if she made it so to emphasize the rawness of the story, but I must confess she did an extraordinary job. Her sentences are bared to the bone, her dialogues constructed to resemble a play. By stripping her narration of all that is inessential she made the cynicism and the ill intentions of the voice that much stronger.
Only 10 % of people with eating disorders are male, which made Mike’s story all the more interesting. He is just a boy – a bit angry, a bit neglected, caught in the middle of his parents’ separation and divorce. He finds comfort in food and then he despises himself for it, so when a voice inside his head starts convincing him that he can be better, stronger, better, invincible – if only he would stop eating and start exercising even more – Mike is quick to obey.

The voice does not like competition and it works diligently to isolate Mike, to convince him that his parents and his friends hate him. It keeps filling Mike’s head with hate and aggression, until the only thing he really trusts becomes a distorted mirror in his bedroom. Anorexia is a serious illness that destroys the body methodically, and Metzger gave it a voice that is both relentless and mean. In less than 200 pages, she told a story that will creep you out and stay with you for a very long time.


28 comments:

  1. I haven't heard of this book before. It sounds a bit creepy to me but still it sounds different and I appreciate different. Great review Maja :)

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  2. Sounds like a powerful read, and as a male friend of mine had anorexia nervosa I definitely pick this up. Thanks for sharing; super review, Maja.

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  3. Hi Maja!
    What a great review, sweetie! You got me very interested in this one. What you said about being odd and sort of niche read spiked my curiosity for sure! I love intense, weird books (yes, I have a bizarre taste!), so I'm going to go ahead and order myself a copy right away :)

    Thanks for an awesome review, thanks to you I found my next read!
    Evie @Bookish

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  4. I haven't heard of this one, but it sounds gripping. Eating disorders are always really difficult to discuss or read about and I can find myself pulling away from this because of the subject matter, but it deserves to be read. I'll need to check this out soon for sure. Lovely review, as always, Maja! :)

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  5. Holy cow.... the eating disorder as the narrator? I am so freaked out. This sounds as awesome as the narrator of The Book Thief by Zusak! Keeping a stalker use eye on this one now.

    Great review, Maja! <33

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  6. *shivers* Can you imagine living with someone like that talking in your head all the time? Especially one who's so patently bad for Mike, wanting him all to himself.

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  7. Huh, well, this helps. I was trying to listen to the audiobook of this and the style was REALLY weird and I had no clue what was going on. It sounded like the dialog between Mike and the voice was written almost like a play. Mike: words, etc. Maybe now that I have a better idea what it's about, I'll try again, or maybe it just doesn't transition well to audio.

    I love that it touches on men having eating disorders, though. So did a book I read recently actually, though that was a minor element: Charm & Strange, I think it was.

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  8. I usually think of girls when I hear eating disorder. Unfortunately, it affects both sexes. This does sound like a very strange and creepy story. The narration alone is very different. Not sure this would be for me but you do make it sound very compelling, Maja. Brilliant review! :)

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  9. Wow, this sounds like an intense read Maja! I'm not sure it's the book for me, I tend to steer clear of issue books in general, but I do love that the protagonist in this one is male, as anorexia and poor body image are not strictly reserved for women. Stunning review as always, you comment on my writing, but have you read yours? Beautiful:)

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  10. This is creepy and strange but definitely very intriguing. It never really crossed my mind that male could have some eating disorders too. And oh, the narration too sounds freaky but could also be pretty compelling. I might check this out some day. Brilliant review, Maja! :)

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  11. Fabulous review, Maja!

    I only just heard about this book today, but already I'm really intrigued by it! It sounds quite creepy but interesting. The narration is not the actual person but a voice instead?! Woah! Definitely curious about this one! Thanks for sharing :)

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  12. You know I find it really intriguing that this is about a male with an eating disorder, I don't think I have come across that yet in a book. I like that his "voice" is that of the villain in the story.
    You know, even though this is very different, I think I would really like it.

    Awesome review!

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  13. This sounds good Maja, and I like both the perspective and that the character is male, since everyone dismisses males from eating disorders and often miss the signs. Fabulous review!

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  14. Well the narrator being the eating disorder def is a unique twist as well as the male protag. I need to read this one.

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  15. First, aren't you a self proclaimed escapist reader? This doesn't sound like that kind of book!

    I can see where the choice of narrator could be tricky, but It also sounds fascinating and scary because it's so REAL. Eating disorders are a big deal, and they DO affect boys too. Though I know not as prevalently. And having watched close friends suffer from them, it's so very hard to escape from one once it has you in its clutches. Thanks for this review!

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  16. I'm wondering if the boy angle will get to girls even more. It creates a distance and yet it gets right into the disease by giving it a voice. Quite clever! I do like the sound of the twist, and I'm now quite curious! Brilly review!!

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  17. I've never heard of this one before. Anorexia is such a scary thing. Lovely review Maja :)

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  18. Oh I am fascinated by eating disorders and I have yet to read something from a male perspective. I also like that the narrator is so odd. I am definitely going to have to look this one up since I haven't seen it before!

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  19. Oh wow... I've seen the cover for this around, but had no idea this is what it was about. And this totally sounds like a style I'd like.

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  20. Wow that is so interesting to learn of Metzger's choice of narrator! This sounds like a dark but incredibly interesting story. I'm not sure this is a book that would work well with me, but I can definitely see this being a story that needs to be put out there. Wonderful review and I'm glad it was able to find a fan with you, Maja!

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  21. I'm really glad you liked this one. I thought the narrator was an amazing choice and it really added a lot to the story. It was interesting to read about a male dealing with an eating disorder. I wish when people taught about eating disorders, they would focus on guys more.

    -lauren

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  22. The twist on who the narrator is makes this book a must read for me. I love unique narrations like this. It would've never occurred to me to have a story from the POV of the eating disorder. It sounds like the author was able to pull of this oddity well. Great review!

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  23. Holy cow this books sounds really creepy! By the look of the cover I would have never thought it was a book about anorexia, let alone being narrated by an idea, rather than a character. I'm not sure this would be my type of read since it is a bit dark, but I'm glad you were able to enjoy it! It certainly seems like Lois is able to capture the essence of anorexia really well though. Lovely review, Maja!

    Jen at Books and Other Happy Ever Afters

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  24. I saw a review for this the other day. I think I'm going to go ahead and get it. It sounds too creepy to pass up.

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  25. Okay I got chills just reading this review. I actually have not seen this book around until you wrote about it. It does sound very creepy, and the cover just kind of draws you too it. I have to admit, that is a fascinating choice of narrative... kinda...different?

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  26. Wow, what a strange and original concept. I have never heard of a stranger narrator! Glad to see you enjoyed this one so much though, will definitely have to check this one out! Great review!!

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  27. The eating disorder is the narrator? That definitely sounds unusual and interesting! You probably already know that this is the sort of book I'd usually avoid, but it sounds quite wonderfully creepy that I'm pretty curious now. Thanks for putting it on my radar, Maja!

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  28. I've had this on my TBR awhile but I'm a little scared of the book. Since you enjoyed it though I may have to at least TRY it soon.

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