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The Distant Sound of Violence
The Distant Sound of Violence by Jason Greensides
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I expected great things from this book, and my expectations were met and then blown away. This is not your typical contemporary fiction read – it’s much better. You can look forward to literary intelligence, mystery, social critique, and constant ambiance. It’s very difficult to predict where the plot and subplots are going, so I found myself on the edge of my seat throughout. There’s so much to talk about that I feel the need to use bullet points:

– The author has a way of making you feel very close to characters you can’t necessarily relate to. This can cause an uncomfortable feeling at times – sometimes you’re glad you can’t relate to them because there’s something disturbing about them – but that’s what comes of good writing. He draws the reader into each character and their particular plight with no tricks, awkwardness, or “author talking”. Just subtle and nonchalant use of POV and in-character, natural-feeling thought processes.

– The main narrator is not an unreliable narrator, but he says things about the future in very carefully phrased ways that make you think you know what’s going to happen to some degree. That narration leads the reader down the wrong path every time, not because the narrator isn’t honest, but because he is careful not to give anything away at all. Every time this happened, I thought, “But didn’t he say that…” and I was wrong. It was phrased so as to just tell you what you need to know and nothing more. I came to my own conclusions based on that “future talk”, but he didn’t actually lead me in the wrong direction. That really kept me on my toes.

– The ending is something you can’t guess, and it’s really an amazing perspective-changer. I can’t say too much on this point, but it really makes the reader look at things from multiple angles of how everything in each person’s life could have been completely different if only this one important fact had been known over a decade earlier. This alone makes the whole book a fantastic book club read because of the discussion it spurs.

– The social critique doesn’t bludgeon you, it’s weaved into the story in many, many ways, some of which are of some enormity and some of which are very specific and pointed. The amount and the angles of social critique in this book are more discussion points that I would love to talk about in a book group.

– The narrator doesn’t work to separate the reader from the story, even as he guides you along on the journey. Sometimes he just serves to refocus you, sometimes he zooms in on something in particular, but in all cases it’s done smoothly and effortlessly. He always feels like a character, not like the author telling you what to focus on.

– If you’re looking for symbolism and metaphors, TDSOV offers that as well. From a figurine to the weather, the author makes sure everything works to bring meaning to the story. Words aren’t wasted. If something is mentioned, it’s there for a purpose.

I can’t say enough about TDSOV or its author, Jason Greensides! I am eagerly awaiting his next release, which will surely be just as brilliant as this one. We’ve got a lot to look forward to from this author, and he’s just getting started.

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