My rating: 3 of 5 stars
It’s 2018 and England is in a bad way. Manchester, to be specific, has run to ruin with riots having burned much of it to the ground and society ravaged almost to the point of being unrecognisable. The novel concentrates on the central character of Brian Meredith- drug addled, with a dysmorphic feature that leaves him wheelchair bound and depressed. He also thinks he’s a mermaid, and this is where The Folded Man gets confusing.
I loved Matt Hill’s writing. He has an easy confidence to his prose that makes it compelling to read and the character’s he has developed are wonderfully eccentric and English which lends a real sense of black humour to the novel, despite it being pretty close to home in turns of where our economy society appears to be leading us to currently.
However, for all that I loved the writing, at many points in the book I didn’t have a clue as to what was actually happening. At points I almost gave up and resigned myself to the fact I just wasn’t intelligent enough to keep up with the plot. I read on though, and I began to suspect that this sense of overwhelming puzzlement was down to the book being written from Brian’s point of view as it becomes abundantly clear that he doesn’t know what on earth is going on for much of the book!
Given the general sense of anarchy, panic and uncertainty of the book I didn’t mind not particularly knowing what was going on at all times. However, the absence of speech marks became a really big nuisance for me. On many pages I had to go over paragraphs I had just read to make sure that I knew who had said what. I see no reason for speech marks to ever be left out of books- they were invented for a reason and make the readers job a whole lot easier. The character’s, though artistically developed, did not have distinct enough voices for the reader to be able to instinctively know who was talking. Often, I’d be reading the page and wouldn’t realise that speech had begun until I was a couple of sentences into a conversation. This becomes tiresome after a while and did detract from my enjoyment when it was coupled with a general sense of having no idea what was going on.
I’m undecided as to whether I liked the ending or not. It’s difficult to discuss without spoiling, but it’s safe to say the novel took a turning that I did not expect. I can say that as a whole, my experience of reading The Folded Man was enjoyable. Putting this book down I felt like I’d just been on the biggest drug trip ever- which is probably exactly what Matt Hill wanted considering Brian’s constant and vast ingestion of substances. If you’re a fan of Orwell, Palahniuk, Bradbury or Huxley you should definitely give this book a go.
This review was first published on Nudge-books.com and Goodreads on 6th May 2013.