#Bookvent – Celebrating my top reads of 2021
My day nineteen #bookvent choice is another one of those ‘what did I just read’ books. Incredibly twisted and complicated, but utterly fascinating and brilliant, it was one of the most unexpected books of 2021 for me. I didn’t know quite how to write a review back when I first read it. I don’t know how to sum it up now. Kind of Running Man meets Hunger Games meets Squid Games (I am assuming from descriptions – I have neither read or watched either of the last two), it is split personalities taken to the max. I always knew I wasn’t suited to life in a commune. My nineteenth pick is …
Five Minds by Guy Morpuss
SHARING A BODY CAN BE MURDER
The Earth’s spiralling population has finally been controlled. Lifespans are limited to eighty years, except for those who make an extreme choice: to become a commune. Five minds sharing one body, each living for four hours at a time. But with a combined lifespan of nearly 150 years.
Alex, Kate, Mike, Sierra and Ben have already spent twenty-five years together in what was once Mike’s body, their frequent personality clashes leading to endless bickering, countless arguments, and getting themselves stranded on a Russian Artic freighter. Wanting to buy upgrades for their next host body, they decide to travel to a Death Park where time can be gambled like money. But things go very wrong when Kate accepts a dangerous offer, and one of them disappears.
Someone is trying to kill off members of the commune. But why? Is one of them responsible? Or is an outsider playing a deadly game? It’s hard enough to catch a murderer. It’s almost impossible when you might be sharing a body with them…
This brilliant murder mystery blends classic crime with speculative fiction in a stunning debut.
This, billed as a speculative thriller, is probably about as close to reading Sci-fi as I will ever get. It’s a strange hybrid, very original, totally out of my comfort zone. And I loved it. Obviously. It’s in my bookvent countdown. I read this book in a little over an evening. It has that absolute one more chapter vibe that just kept me turning the paged late into the night (or early into the morning depending on perspective). The very styling of the book, switching between the very differing points of view of each of the principal characters, had a very episodic feel to it, but not one where you are willing to wait a week to see what comes next, the Netflix kind where you need to binge watch. As the blurb says – five minds in one body, hence the shifting point of view. It has the potential to be very confusing but Guy Morpuss has crafted this book perfectly, each voice so distinct and the character quirks so unique that you never lose the perspective of which of the five you are experiencing life with right now. There are a few retrospective chapters, moments when we learn some of the characters’ past, but mostly the story is told in the here and now where the sense of urgency, and of building threat, is at times quite intense. The pacing is spot on, no single chapter giving us more than is necessary, and reflecting the very limited hour hour window of each character’s conscious day.
The whole concept – of waking up as Kate and going to bed as Alex, not knowing quite what each of the other personalities before you may have done or what risks, or challenges, they may have accepted on your behalf – really adds to some uncertainty and also to the thrill of the ride. The challenges take many different forms but all are played to the death and all are infused with great tension and smile inducing moments. And it is those moments where the author has been highly creative, encompassing riddles and physical threats in amongst the excitement of the hunt/chase. The book is laced with misdirection and the conflict exists not only within the death park but within the five, very unique, ultimately different minds. I found myself completely invested in each and every character, intrigued by the mystery, and wondering just how they lived a complimentary existence when they are so very different. But it works. The mystery, the action, the subterfuge and the conflict, all combine to make a thriller which had me hooked and engrossed to the very last page. Unique, pacy, tense, perfect. Definitely recommended.
You can read the full review here.
Happy #bookvent reading all