Sunday, 6 February 2011

Book Review: The Radleys- Matt Haig

About: The Radleys, by Matt Haig is a vampire ficton standalone novel aimed at young adults and adults. It was published in 2010 by Walker-canongate. Matt Haig has also written, among others, The Dead Father's Club and The Last Family in England. The Radleys is being made into a film produced by Alfonso Cuaron.

Plot: The Radleys seem decidedly average: the father, Pete, is a GP, the mother, Helen,  is your normal housewife, they have two kids, Clara and Rowan, and they live in an understated sub-urban house. But they are actually a family of abstaining vampires, who don't drink blood. The children do not know about this, so when  Clara decides to turn vegan, this makes her quite sick. Following on from there, Clara accidentally kills a boy who had untoward intentions.  To clean up the mess, Uncle Will is called in, and things really escalate from there. Add to that a marriage coming undone, a teen boy in love with his sisters best friend and blood by the bottleful and you have got the Radleys.

Opinions: Totally unrelated, this is book 1 of my Parajunkee Vampire Challenge. This book was first seen shelved among YA vampire books. I then looked carefully at it, and decided it was totally different to everything else on offer, and worth a try. And I read this, and I really enjoyed it. The characters are easy to connect with and pretty believable. Its extremely original: it portrays the vampire in a completely different way to what we're all used to. I like the black humour coming in every now and again, (ie when discussing what to do about Clara's killing, Helen says "I've brought the spade".), but not too frequently as to turn this into a comedy story. I especially like the clever sub-plots brewing underneath the main story-I won't tell you what they are because they're quite crucial to the main storyline and I dont want to spoil it. However, it is slightly disappointing. I dont like the way it's not really aimed at a certain audience; parts of this is a lovely YA novel, yet the more adult parts mean that,younger readers who like the look of this, thinking particularly of the younger members of my book club, arent allowed to read this, even though it is a brilliant book and they should read it. And although I like all the little subplots but I think they slightly detract from concentrating on the stories of Rowan and Clara, which I think is more important. And I don't like Will. Despite this, The Radleys is a story full of twists and turns with an extremely satisfying ending.
In short
PlotAn abstaining vampire family, a mad uncle and bottles of blood.
CharactersClear personalities that you see in every family.
ActionA lot of subplots woven together.
WarningsA few non-graphic sex scenes, references to adultery. Rec. age 14 up
WritingShort snappy chapters that doesnt cater to one audience
OverallA delightful ironic look at vampires, family and life in general.

2 comments:

  1. Agree It is a favorite Book of mine for all the reasons you wrote about..I hope a Movie a series,,The Fanily Next Door,,How would we know> Yes the Dark British Humor Shines through,,excellent,,,,

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  2. @Susan yes I agree...Haig's books do seem to work well as films...

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