Seeing as my last book review went down so well, why not do another?
Disclaimer: I don't actually read this fast, I tend to have a few books on the go at any one time. This one took me a fair few months even if it is quite a light, short read!
Digging into my hazy memory, I think this was another one of my click-happy purchases on Amazon. Seriously, as soon as something comes up as half price or even better, reduced to 99p, I'm all over it.
I didn't really know much about it when I started reading (hadn't even checked out the blurb) so I had absolutely no expectations.
I remember feeling a bit confused when I started reading. We come in as our protagonist has hit a decidedly low point. He's a bit of a layabout, not really much of a hardworker to say the least. We meet him just after he's lost a pretty decent job and has basically been reduced to living out of a cardboard box. Things are not going well.
Until he gets a call from his old boss. Like, the big boss. Who gives him a new job after explicitly listing all of his failings. Confused? I was too. But then we discover that this new job entails bringing the boss' nerdy teenage son out of his shell and away from his computer.
The story flows on from here. Translated from Russian into simple, halting English, it's very easy to follow once you've got the hang of the multiple Russian names thing (still holding out for War & Peace..) It's enjoyable in its simplicity and the train of events is believable. Our characters are flawed and realistic, well developed psychologically. There is no big glamour even in this world of riches and Russian mafia and even though we flick between characters occasionally, we are still drawn along by a fairly limited point of view.
There was something refreshing in the lack of drama. There is a climax midway through the story which could have ended the story there. Sure it might not be a big enough culmination for some readers but for me, the writer and translator could have pulled it off by leaving it there.
In fact, things pick up at this point and the story twists in a way I hadn't imagined. I won't reveal too much. Again, there are no huge fireworks yet you don't see any of it coming. Many authors lead you along, dropping breadcrumbs that ultimately lead you to the conclusion long before the characters themselves discover the truth. It isn't so in this novel. Feelings are hurt, characters we may have come to care about are ignored and their dreams discarded. But isn't that the essence of real life?