I picked up this book on a whim and because the cover is gorgeous. The writing grabbed my attention in the first few pages, and I could tell this author had worked hard to craft this story. Then, the uniqueness of the story kept me reading to the end.
While the setting is sparse and simple, there’s much going on inside Malcolm’s mind. This book tackles some dark psychological issues, and this setting works perfectly to illustrate the damage of isolation. Even though Malcolm is selfish, guilt-ridden, quick to anger, and blindly obsessed with his past girlfriend, you feel bad for him. Anyone left alone this long is bound to lose some of their humanity. Anyone who gets stuck in this experimental prison…that’s unlikely to end well.
Now, as for the “unusual” character of the story, I loved how I was never sure what Verity really was. You want her to be real for Malcolm’s sake, but at the same time his reactions to her show the effects of his situation and how his mind might be slipping. The dynamics there get weird, but also meaningful.
The title has many levels of meaning, and I noticed that more and more as I read. There’s the usual meaning of cruel and unusual punishment. There’s Malcolm who’s cruel and Verity who’s unusual. There’s the whole situation with Mauve. It all works together to make for a very complex, unique read which leaves you thinking that this world is really, really not right.
See it on Amazon!