Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Book Review: Invective by Andy Owen

Invective, by Andy Owen
2014, 156p, Fiction
My Rating=5 Stars
Source: Received a copy from the author for an honest review

Following the narrative arc of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, Ismael narrates the story of how he has come to end up lying, injured, in a compound on the Afghanistan border after a drone strike, life draining away. The story unfolds towards the present, as he thinks back across his journey from a suburb of Birmingham, where he was brought up, to pray circles in the city run by a charismatic individual who leads the small group Ismael joins, to Dubai, on to Karachi, and then to the mountains, to meet the fabled White Sheik. This journey begins with the discovery that he was adopted, after his real father killed himself in a suicide bombing. Ismael decides to test himself to see whether, if subjected to the same environment, his nature will push him to similar violent conclusions. Along the way he is asked to work for the security services, informing on the man who had radicalised his real father. As the story progresses he is torn between loyalty to those he is travelling with, those he has come to work with at the security services, and to himself. After witnessing the violence created by both sides, as he moves through this new world, back in the present, he is forced to decide what acts are acceptable and work out what he is prepared to do to get himself home.

The story explores what makes some of us need to seek out adventure and conflict, and makes many of us need to believe in a cause. Ismael attempts to understand why so much of the violence he has seen is caused by our inability to accept what it means to be human and the reality of all our fates.

70% of the sale of this product will be donated to War Child, charity no. 1071659

When I read the summary for this book, I knew it was one I wanted to read. I've often wondered why certain people feel compelled to commit what I feel are senseless acts. This story takes a young man, Ismael, who learns that he was adopted and his birth father was a suicide bomber. He wonders what prompted his father to do that and sets out to learn if he has those same tendencies himself.

Ismael wants to share this experience with someone and meets up with Gary and Alex (I'm not remembering exactly how they met). He's not sure which intelligence agency they're with, but he gives them information from the inside. It was interesting to see how he worked both sides and found it hard to be completely loyal to either one.

I was drawn into this story and it felt like I was reading an autobiography. It was interesting to read Ismael's experiences and find that when the human element is introduced, things aren't as black and white as they are in theory. I'm glad I went on this journey with him since I learned a few things along the way. I did a lot of highlighting. This is one of those books that is best to experience for yourself. It's a thought provoking story which I enjoyed from beginning to end!

About the Author:

Andy Owen served as an officer with the British military from 2002 to 2008. His service included operational tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. After leaving the military he worked for the British Government focusing on extremism in the United Kingdom. He now lives in London and is no longer a government employee. Invective is his first novel.


Post a Comment