Thursday, 29 September 2011

Book #86 Snowdrops by AD Miller


Snowdrops is the final novel on the Booker shortlist that I had left to read, although I have I believe around four of the longlist contenders yet to go. The story is told as a flashback Nick Platt is telling his girlfriend, possibly fiancee about the time he spent abroad working in Russia. The narrative reveals that this is something he has refused to open up about hitherto in their relationship, something bad happened to Nick Platt, but what?

Snowdrops is a portrait of modern post Cold War Russia, and it paints a Moscow rife with crime, of both the organized and small time variety. The new face of corrupt Russia we have begun to see in the West, where anything you want can be got at a price.

It is a relatively short novel, Nick collides with two sisters Masha and Katya after someone attempts to mug them on the underground. They are two vulnerable girls from a poor background trying to make it in the city, and Nick enters their world despite warnings from colleagues that it won't end well. There are MANY reviews on Amazon, saying that this book is not a thriller and shouldn't be on the Booker shortlist. For my part I didn't know it was meant to be a thriller so that's a none issue because I took it for what it was; somebody relating a life experience they had once had, competently done, interesting, enjoyable and attention holding.

I have no issue with its place on the shortlist, it takes as its time and place a modern feeling setting which hasn't been mined by many writers yet, unlike say, the Second World War about which many novels are written  and so there is a freshness to it. If it were meant to be a thriller however, it should have told some events from Katya and Masha's perspective to achieve this. Instead it's again, like A Sense Of An Ending and Half Blood Blues the story of a man who got caught up in a situation and made a mistake. How odd that there are so many of them on the Booker list this year. It's a good novel of this year and if you spot it in a bookshop, I see no reason not to pick it up. In terms of the Booker however, it has nothing on Jamrach's Menagerie or A Sense Of An Ending, and if neither of those aforementioned novels win the prize, I shan't be very impressed. 8/10

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