The Ninth Life Of Louis Drax
My first selection in my challenge to showcase some female authors comes from Liz Jensen, suggested to me by one of my Twitter followers. Of her novels, I decided upon The Ninth Life Of Louis Drax, because I liked the title, and because I was afraid that recent novel The Rapture might bear too much similarity in topic to Justin Cronin's The Passage.
Louis Drax is a 9 year old French boy and self-labelled "Disturbed Child". Called Wacko Boy at school his mother sends him to a therapist to whom he feeds outrageous lies, so that he won't have to tell him the things that are really disturbing him. Louis addresses the reader in the first person and has a very distinctive narrative voice, of a child who psychologically just somehow isn't right.
Suddenly and unexpectedly the book introduces a second narrator Pascal Dannachet, a Doctor reflecting upon his treatment of Louis. It emerges that the cocky, funny, troubled Louis we have been introduced to has been in a terrible accident, and is comatose.
We do not lose Louis' voice however, the point-of-view narrative switching from Pascal to Louis' world inside his coma, where he has begun his ninth life. To begin with, Louis is just a new and interesting patient to Pascal but suddenly he finds himself drawn into a seductive web of psychological deceit and supernatural occurrences.
This is a really good book, with an outcome you feel like you should have seen coming but didn't, as secrets are revealed and then revealed to be twisted, it becomes all the more compelling. Though the Pascal segments work better than the "Louis in the coma" segments, the latter are still worthwhile. It is layered, tense, and an interesting examination of human behaviour, both from a point of view of child psychology, and the psychology of a doctor with a need to save. I felt perhaps that the very quick blurring of professional doctor/relative boundaries was unrealistic but the resulting situation works well in its impact on all elements of the novel.
What is really good about this novel is its accessibility and its ability to have universal appeal, I think whatever style of novels you read, there is a place for The Ninth Life Of Louis Drax among your purchases.
I liked Pascal, and was particularly moved at his closing remarks, still envisioning ways in which he can save Louis, a boy who perhaps never wanted to be saved....
I have a very high opinion of this novel, and read it quickly and compulsively 9/10