The Shock of the Fall (Aug. 2014)

I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I’m ashamed to say it, but I’d been avoiding it just because I didn’t find the cover appealing. It struck me as a little Fault in Our Stars-ish. But I decided to give it a chance since Filer is coming to the Edinburgh Book Festival and I had tickets to his events.

Wow. First of all, this is a super quick and easy read. I blew through the book in two days and probably could have done it in one, but I forced myself to put it down so I could savor the experience.

This is a very brave debut novel. Just in terms of the narrative style and structure. The narrator/protagonist is a man struggling with severe mental illness and a traumatic childhood experience. So the novel is this protagonist documenting his story from within and without a mental ward, consequently the text includes varying typeface, drawings, etc to depict the way this narrator sees and expresses his world. Like I said, it’s a very brave style for a debut novel, but it creates such an authentic voice. The characters are extremely well-drawn, from Matthew and his family to the other patients and nurses at the mental ward. You really get a full, well-rounded sense of his world.

It’s a heartbreaking story and I can’t reveal much more without spoiling it. The ending is perhaps a tad “deflated” after the suspense of the story, but it does make perfect sense for the character.

Overall, very satisfying read.