Review: The Rabbit Back Literature Society – Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen

This was the first book I had to read for the book club at work and I was quite excited about it. It sounded like it would be right down my alley and it was, kind of – but we’ll get to that.

Synopsis:

A highly contagious book virus, a literary society and a Snow Queen-like disappearing author ‘She came to realise that under one reality there’s always another. And another one under that.’ Only very special people are chosen by children’s author Laura White to join ‘The Society’, an elite group of writers in the small town of Rabbit Back. Now a tenth member has been selected: Ella, literature teacher and possessor of beautifully curving lips. But soon Ella discovers that the Society is not what it seems. What is its mysterious ritual, ‘The Game’? What explains the strange disappearance that occurs at Laura’s winter party, in a whirlwind of snow? Why are the words inside books starting to rearrange themselves? Was there once another tenth member, before her? Slowly, disturbing secrets that had been buried come to light… In this chilling, darkly funny novel, the uncanny brushes up against the everyday in the most beguiling and unexpected of ways.

My Thoughts:

Okay so, this book promises me things that I love in stories; mystery, supernatural, fantasy, books about books, etc… so I thought I would love it. I had a strange experience with this book, I think that’s only way to put it. There were some aspects that I absolutely loved, such as the mystery of the whole thing – ya know, the whole “oooh what’s going to happen now?” kinda thing, I loved the supernatural elements that make the story reall exciting and such. But there was a lot about the book that I did not like. For one, Laura White – one of the main characters – is portrayed as this writer to aspire to, she write these magical fairy-tales that feel like they are real when read, she’s created this prestigious writing society that every writer in the world wants to be a part of, blah blah … she’s not that great. 9 out of the 10 members of the society were chosen as children. Laura White writes children’s stories. Those children were not chosen to be mentored, but chosen to be guinea pigs. For her to study and learn so she could write about them. And then, when you look into the characters in her fables, you will be able to match each of them to certain members of the society. My opinion of her is that she is manipulative.

So on to the mysteries that are entwined into the story. They are brilliant, they are built so carefully and cleverly throughout the length of the story. There’s a huge climatic event part way through the book that just leaves you speechless and wondering how, but I won’t tell you because that would kind of ruin the book for you. One of them being the “Book Plague”, which basically is this disease that certain books had, it meant that words moved around and changed the story completely, so literary classics would end in completely the wrong way and create utter chaos in the literary world. The whole way through the book this ‘plague’ pops up, leading you curiouser and curiouser, anxious to get to the end so you can finally find out what it’s all about and how it comes about. So… what was this plague all about? I have no idea. The book just … ends. That’s it. Nothing. No conclusive ending, no answer to all the mysteries presented to you throughout the book and it left me feeling very disappointed and annoyed.

Overall, I enjoyed the beginning and middle of the book but the ending was just awful. At first, I thought maybe there’s a sequel? Nu-uh. There is the argument that this was in fact very clever, that the author leaves it to you. That by knowing how all these weird and quirky things keep happening, would away the magic of it all. Yeah, I get that but I was left full of questions and no answers. Which annoyed me.

So I give this book 3 out of 5 stars, and I feel is being a bit too generous.

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