Rating: 2.5 Crickets
Author: Mike Russell
Illustrator: Mike Russell
Publisher: Strange Books
Published: 31st October, 2016
Strungballs is an extraordinary novella from Strange Books author Mike Russell. What are Strungballs? Ten-year-old Sydney is about to find out… but first he must have a cube of his flesh removed. Sydney will transgress everything he was taught to believe in when he embarks upon a journey that will reveal the astonishing secrets hidden by the red balls on white strings known only as… Strungballs.
Inspiring, liberating, otherworldly, magical, surreal, bizarre, funny, disturbing, unique… all of these words have been used to describe the stories of Mike Russell.
Remember: Once a Strungball is inserted it must never be removed.
This is my first official ‘book for review’ that I have done, which is kinda exciting! I received a PDF version of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I must admit that while I was excited to have been asked to do a review for this novella, I was a little skeptical at first. Okay, maybe a bit more than a little. Strungballs was a weird title and the cover reminded me a little of covers I’ve seen on weird kids books. However, I read a couple of brief reviews and all I saw were good things about this book, so I had hope for it. I also read the sample on Amazon, and while it is written in a style of writing I don’t normally like, I did want to keep reading to find out what happened next.
Strungballs is certainly one of the weirdest stories I have ever read. Honestly, I’m not completely sure what it is that I just read, it just seemed like a random series of events, and I’m left wondering what exactly it is that happened, how it happened and why.
While the storyline has left me a little puzzled, I did get a few meaningful things from this book. While reading I found myself faced with the questions such as, do we blindly follow conventions set by society because they are deemed as ‘good’? Are the things that we do that we should really be asking ‘why’ we do them? I also questioned whether society would ever get to the stage where they would actually accept having pieces of flesh removed from themselves because it was ‘good’ and deemed as fashionably. Are we as humans really that gullible? Do we as a whole really not think for ourselves?
*possible spoiler alert*
In the story they fear Others, but the Others are really themselves (which was one of the things that wasn’t explained and left me confused… parallel universe type thing or what???). Which bought up the question of what is it that we are really afraid of? Are we afraid of ourselves?
The writing was simple, and in some cases this was impactful, in others it was a little too simple. Reading the conversation between Sydney’s parents annoyed me a little bit because it was short speech followed by “Sydney’s Father/Mother said” or “said Sydney’s Father/Mother”, it was a little repetitive and I found myself almost skipping over those words and just reading the actual speech. However, I did like that this simple form of writing meant that some things were straight to the point, even if it didn’t always completely make sense. While lots of words and heavy description can be great to read, it is art to be able to write something simple yet meaningful.
Overall, the story made little sense to me and I’m personally not a fan of the writing style. But, I did like the way that it made me question things about society and about myself and caused me to actually think. It’s less than 100 pages so it’s a quick read, I would say it’s worth giving it a shot.
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