Tuesday, 5 January 2016

'The Human Script' by Johnny Rich (****)

Hello readers, and Happy New Year! I hope you all had a wonderful festive period with LOADS OF FOOD AND READING because, to be honest, what else should people do at Christmas. Oh, spend time with loved ones. I made sure to look up from my books once or twice this week to nod nicely at them, don't you all worry.

But now to the nitty gritty, a new year full of reading loads of great books and reviewing them on this blog! The first book I'm going to kick things off with is a book I was given a while ago by the fantastic Red Button Publishing, who contacted me asking if I would like to review their brand new title The Human Script. As soon as I read their pitch in the email, I knew it was a book I simply had to have. A book about science, philosophy, literature and everything in between; a story told in 23 chromosomes. A book that asks the pivotal and fundamental questions about life, and questions why we ask the questions in the first place.

I was sent a copy of The Human Script by Red Button Publishing in exchange for an honest review :)

Intrigued? Here's the blurb...

London in the spring of 2000: Chris Putnam, a young scientist working on the Human Genome Project, is grieving for the end of his first relationship and for the loss of his deeply religious and estranged father. Then Chris falls in love and his twin brother goes missing. Events take Chris on a journey from the hallowed halls of scientific research via decadent art-scene parties and London’s Theatreland to the cold loneliness of a psychiatric hospital and ultimately to a desperate decision. What Chris discovers about himself and his world forces him to address his own nature, his own beliefs and his own reality.

The Human Script is a cryptic parable, in which popular science, philosophy, literary theory and religion intertwine in a poignant and tragic love story that asks the question: what is it to be human?

As soon as I had a copy of The Human Script in my hands, I knew it was a book that would challenge me. After reading I can safely say that I haven't read another book like it in my life. The Human Script is a novel that is so strongly self-aware that it keeps the reader on tenterhooks for the entirety of the story. It is a distinctly modern novel that cuts through all conventions of literature. The protagonist, Chris Putnam, leads the reader through the maze of his mind that is never quite sure, or comfortable with its surroundings. While reading, I almost felt that I was one with Chris (please excuse the sickening cliché) and that I was learning about his world and the people in it at the same time he was. To say that Chris is a likeable character is a serious understatement and a trivial perception of the novel. I feel that it was never Rich's aim to encourage you to 'like' Chris, or even empathise with him, but understand him and to ask the same questions about your own life that Chris continually asks about his own. 

The narration of this book was simply fantastic and from the very first chapter I was thrown in at the deep end, at the start of a seemingly normal morning for Chris, not unlike any morning for the millions of people all waking up and beginning their day in different places all over the world. However, it didn't take me long to realise that this book, in its content, narration, characters or ideas was anything but 'normal'. The switching to different types of narration gave me endless insight into what was happening in the story, and the character development of all the different figures that featured in Chris' life. This gave a distinctive 'closeness' to all of the characters in the book, even those who never actually featured as speaking figures in the story, for example Chris' feather Eugene. 

Because of Chris' continuous and ever-spiralling questioning about himself and the world around him, I never felt at ease and this just made the book work for me. In a mere 320 pages, Rich managed to tackle the questions that face all of us at some point or other in our lives: nature/nurture, religion, celebrity, philosophy, literature, ideas, science, cause and effect and most importantly: what is it that makes us who we are? In the final chapter of the book I was as manic and feeble-minded as Chris; I no longer had any idea about what was fictional and what was real. The paragraphs where Chris berates 'The Author' was a fantastically used device and really drove home the feeling of unease and separation from the 'reality' of the action in the novel.

The only reason why this review isn't 5* is that, simply, I wanted this book to be longer. Way longer. Countless ideas were explored, but I wanted Rich to go deeper. I wanted to be given the chance to question Chris and the other characters more.

Altogether, I loved The Human Script, and I am so so glad that I requested it. It is a book that has inspired me to continue with my own writing, push the boundaries of conventional storytelling, and to never stop asking the important questions. 

Check out Johnny Rich's guest post on Delightful Book Reviews: http://delightfulbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/2015/10/blog-tour-human-script-all-hail-book.html

Buy The Human Script here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0957611668?keywords=the%20human%20script&qid=1450962811&ref_=sr_1_1&sr=8-1

Check out Johnny Rich here: http://www.johnnyrich.com/Human_Script.html

Until next time :)

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