I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Race by Nina Allan
Published by Titan on 19th July 2016
In a future scarred by fracking and ecological collapse, Jenna Hoolman lives in the coastal town of Sapphire. Her world is dominated by the illegal sport of smartdog racing: greyhounds genetically modified with human DNA. When her young niece goes missing that world implodes...
Christy's life is dominated by fear of her brother, a man she knows capable of monstrous acts and suspects of hiding even darker ones. Desperate to learn the truth she contacts Alex, a stranger she knows only by name, and who has his own demons to fight...
And Maree, a young woman undertaking a journey that will change her world forever.
THE RACE weaves together story threads and realities to take us on a gripping and spellbinding journey that explores the nature of identity, home and our place in the world.
The Race was previously published by a small press and was nominated for a number of awards. This new edition from Titan actually features a brand new story set within the world of The Race.
How on earth do I describe this book? While it may be classed as a novel, it’s more of a bind-up of four novellas whose characters are linked together in some way. The Appendix is a bonus story, available for this first time in this edition.
So we have the stories of Jenna, Christy, Alex and Maree. Four characters whose stories are intertwined. Rather than summarise their stories here, I refer you to the book information section at the top of this post.
This book wasn’t what I expected it to be. I was really absorbed by Jenna’s story, the world scarred by fracking, her situation and the smartdogs and their runners. So when I moved on to Christy’s story, I was somewhat disappointed to be leaving Jenna and her story behind.
I enjoyed trying to piece together the stories, uncovering their similarities and generally trying to figure out what was going on! To date, I’ve only experienced this feeling with David Mitchell’s writing – a need to read on, despite being pretty confused as to how it all fits together!
On the whole, I enjoyed Allan’s writing. I can see why this has been described as “literary speculative fiction” as her wordcraft is beautiful at times. I did however struggle with her smartdog race scene, it was somewhat hard going.
I appreciate Allan’s ability to draw the reader into each of her central characters. She puts her readers through emotional turmoil. At times this isn’t an easy read, and I should warn you that there are sections of this book that warrant a trigger warning – a rape scene for example.
While some may find aspects of the novel hard to read, Allan doesn’t shy away from difficult issues. Indeed, I respect her for the way she tackles them. I also appreciate her approach to sexuality in this novel – it’s a part of the story, not the story, which is personally how I think it should be.
All in all I found this a rather strange read. It straddles sci-fi and literary speculative fiction. I can see that many fans of such genre would very much enjoy this novel. I, myself, am still a newbie. I would be interested to reread this in the future, once I’m more accustomed to this type of novel.
There is much to be applauded in this book; the exploration of identity and our place in the world is something I found very interesting. I can appreciate why it has received so many commendations. It wasn’t what I anticipated it to be, but despite my lack of experience in these particular reading grounds, I found it rather difficult to put this book down.