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Lacking a sense of purpose



Metamorphosis by Nicholas Mosely 


Who wrote it?


Perhaps best known for his Whitbread award-winning novel Hopeful Monsters, which dealt with the question of using science to manipulate human nature to effect change, Nicholas Mosley’s new novella explores similar subjects.


Plot in a Box:


A journalist living in Ireland with his family relives a chance encounter with an aid worker in an African refugee camp that changed his life — and may continue to do so.


Invent a new title for this book:


I would call it: Evolution: Not Just a Theory.


Read this if you liked:


David Mitchell’s divisive novel Cloud Atlas.


Meet the book’s lead:


A late thirty-something journalist and writer who’s spent time in Africa and Gaza covering conflict and tragedy — and who’s never named.


Said lead would be portrayed in a movie by:


A not-so-handsome Hugh Grant with a hint of Christopher Eccleston about him.


Setting: would you want to live there?


Set in Ireland at an unspecified time, the conflict between Loyalists and Republicans—or the “Troubles”— seem to have a peripheral effect on the story; it’s hard to pin down, but there is a sense of the unsettled about the place. Not appealing


What was your favorite sentence?

I was wondering — Could one smuggle explosives in the belly of a whale?

The Verdict:


I didn’t enjoy this. Mosley’s narrative wanders between the past and present, but I rarely got a sense of purpose or that I was being led to a particular place. The narrative is full of sometimes nonsensical thoughts in the main character’s head which don’t shed any light on the subject.


There is a lot of speculation about the potential of the human mind/body/spirit and what might happen if we were to fulfill that potential — that’s probably the only thing that foreshadows the appearance of a god-child in a refugee camp that is “special”. Annoyingly, we only get small glimpses of what that specialness entails or her abilities, and the story ends before anything really happens.

I got very frustrated reading this, as it felt like part of something larger, and left me feeling that Mosley didn’t know how to finish a longer work. Not one I can recommend.


Bookshots review written for LitReactor.com by Dean Fetzer