This is the weirdest book I’ve ever read. Luckily, it’s supposed to be weird. I’ve never read anything like it, which ensures that it’s unforgettable. Although I can’t say that I loved The Exploding Book, I will say that I found the writing style, structure and concept impressive. A great deal of thought has gone into crafting this strange piece of literary art.
The setting of the story is Gladeville, a sinister village where everyone is under the influence of the Dark Book. People seem distant and efficient, with no understanding of love and death. The library explodes and that’s what kicks off the villagers’ investigation into the realities of their enclosed world. So far, so strange. By the end of the story I was laughing in amazement at what the author decided to do with this text. One of the merits of the book is that after the halfway point, it’s not at all predictable. This kept me reading on, to see what bizarre thing was going to happen next. I never would’ve guessed. I did like the over-the-top weirdness. It was also interesting that the narrative was mainly second-person – ‘you’ (the reader) flying invisibly around the village spying on the characters. There are many images (or symbols) throughout, such as the yellow light bulbs, golden temple, square rooms, black print, black shoes, pink boxes, blissful expressions. It’s left for you to interpret how you will. There are a few sex scenes which are mercifully brief and described in an odd way (but of course they would be).
I found the frequent repetition of the same (or similar) phrases and sentences to be irritating. This repetition is a key element of the writing style and gives it an almost biblical tone which is exasperating unless you enjoy that kind of style. Without it, I would have enjoyed this book more.
If you like far-out concepts and plots which get increasingly odd, give The Exploding Book a try. I’m hesitating to call it a novel. It felt like a philosophy essay or maybe a hallucination.
Thank you to Jay at StrangeBooks for the review copy. This book was independently published in April and is available in both Kindle and paperback formats.