31. Cage, by Lilja Sigurdadóttir

This it the third in the author’s Reykjavik Noir trilogy. It is set a few years after Snare and Trap, with the result that I felt there was a lot missing from Sonja’s and Agla’s stories.

I found it very much harder to engage with the characters and with what was going on. The structure of short, punchy chapters did not work as well for me as it had done in the first two books. I am afraid that to me this book was rather more going through the motions, and I think I was going through the motions in reading it.

So to me, this was a disappointing end to the trilogy that had started so well.

5 out of 10 for the book, 7 out of 10 for the trilogy (the average of the 3 marks).

10 out of 10 for whoever designed the covers to the 3 books!

25. When We Were Orphans, by Kazuo Ishiguro

For most of this book I was trying to work out what I would say here. At best I have been ambivalent, at times I was planning to be quite harsh. Ambivalence won out.

This is, I think, a novel about memory and the tricks it plays. About growing up and finding out things are not as you thought or were told. A novel about the cynicism and cruelty of the adult world. About disappointment.

Well that’s what I think.

The difficulty with this novel is in the phase towards the end, where the protagonist goes back, He meets and abandons an old childhood friend. He is used by and then lets down a woman who has a central role in the story. On two occasions I found myself shouting expletives at him as I listened while driving.  I suspect this novel could not have been written differently, but that phase never really worked for me.

As I say, I am ambivalent. A shame, as I enjoyed Remains of the Day. 5 out of 10.

6. Underworld, by Don de Lillo


This is said to be a Great American Novel. It is long – 31 hours of audiobook, or apparently 800 pages of print.

I struggled to see the point. Perhaps I’m not clever enough.

This is one of those books that jump around in time. We do not get the chronology in chronological order.

I had a strong sensation for most of this book that it was a kind of spider’s web. There was a core of central events, all in about 1951. Everything reached out from there: sometimes we took a step outwards along a spoke, sometimes we were going around one of a number of concentric circles.

I also felt that about two thirds of the way in, the book lost its way. I kept going in the hope that there would be a big reveal of the point of it all. I’m not sure that there was.

I’m going to give this 5 out of 10.