My first port of call on my voyage of discovery in the world of
Independent authors was Anomaly, and I was intrigued enough to
download the sample. That’s the beauty of the Kindle system; you can get a fair chunk to read for free and then decide if you want to buy the whole book.
I read through the sample at a fair pace and was hooked enough to make my very first Kindle purchase. The next afternoon I had free, I
curled up in bed and read the whole lot, a guilty pleasure like a
massive tub of ice cream.
Essentially it’s a simple enough story if you boiled it down to mere plot, but that could also be said for a lot of world renowned literature. The power of this book is the characters and especially J, the narrator
and in my opinion, the hero of the story. J might take issue at this
but this rather depends on what gender J is at the time. You see the
central character isn’t really sure of his own gender, and that’s
what makes this book so breathtaking. We’re not talking about gender reassignment or anything quite so…well, crude.
Anomaly examines in a very thought provoking way what gender actually is. Is it what genitalia we are assigned, our chromosomes or how we think. Or is it how society depicts what makes someone male or female? It brought home to me quite how loosely many people are fixed into their gender. It’s something I’d thought about quite often and how society demands that somehow we make up our minds and stick with our decision(or that which birth landed us with)
J can’t make up his mind. In fact, I think it’s not about making a
decision at all, but about something that shifts on a regular basis
and has done since childhood. He has suffered for it, dreadfully and
the events of the novel force him to revisit his own demons and fight
them again, but this time while trying to help both his friend and a
neighbour fight the same family of problems.
At the end of the novel I was left with a sense of increased compassion and understanding for J and also for myself. The narration flows smoothly, the voice of J is discursive and sometimes evasive as though he’s aware that people want to know more and is making them wait. I spent quite a lot of time wanting to know what gender he actually is, but that is intentional, and I found it nicely unsettling. His inner voice, the one we are listening to changes, veering from masculine to feminine and back again but often settling somewhere in the middle in a way that I found familiar of my own thought patterns at times.
This is such an original novel, I cannot imagine how a traditional
publisher would have taken a risk on it. If they had, I feel sure
that the heavy hand of an editor would have slashed away much that
was raw and real in a bid to make it more palatable for the mythical
reader they are catering for. It also defies genre stereotyping. I
have no idea where you’d place such a book in a bookshop.
Psychological thriller? Nope. Chick-lit? Nope. I don’t think a comfy
slot exists for a book like this, which, given the book that it is,
is oddly comforting in itself.
I’ve begged Thea to write more about J’s journey and she assures me it will happen. Sometimes a character really gets under your skin and J did that to me. Give it a go, and see if he grabs you the way he did me.