Book 6: A Density of Souls by Christopher Rice.
Before I begin to outline the book, or pass judgement on its contents, I think it’s important to note that Christopher is not Anne Rice. He doesn’t write reams of descriptions like his mother, he limits the exposure to the supernatural (or at least he does in this book), and he is writing Gothic fiction about children.
That being said, he still explores the human psyche, the darkness within humanity, the monsters that lurk within society and how they can be well hidden amongst the innocent and unsuspecting.
A density of souls is Christopher’s first novel, exploring sexuality, the issues faced by teens, murder, separation, friendship, fear, religion, mental health and suicide. It really is an incredibly dark book hitting on smashing his way through very sensitive issues. However, the fact that everything is spoken of so candidly leaves plenty of time for reflection and debate. Each character faces several issues and you follow them from their early teens, into their twenties to see how they have developed.
This book isn’t for the faint of heart: there are many references to the above list, as well as descriptions of sex (mostly homosexual) and torture. If you choose to read it, you must do so with an open mind as, at times, these can become very frequent. Violence is certainly something that runs through the books core.
Upon reading the book, as well as a brief bio of the author, I can’t help but think much of what is discussed is based on his own experiences of exploring his sexuality, his feelings of isolation and victimisation, and friendships being tested. The writing style itself is very basic and makes me think that, despite the content, it is aimed more at the young adult in terms of casual speech and the life and times of a troubled teen.
There are several points where I found the narrative irritating: the constant jumping between characters became disorientating, unnecessary repetition of thoughts also being followed by similar ideas within the dialogue and, in some instances, quite juvenile-seeming descriptions of sex. These may have all been intentional but I found them quite jarring.
On the whole though, I actually found this a riviting book to read with its brave use of taboo topics, discussions and open meandering through the characters experiences and thoughts. I’m intrigued as to what his other books are about…
Book seven: The Poison Principle by Gail Bell.