REVIEW: Silverview

George Smiley was the greatest spy in the world and that is the hill I will die on.

With that being said, I don’t at all hide how much I have always loved and adored the works of the incomparable John Le Carré. He was a brilliant story teller with such human narratives rich with political intrigue and Silverview is no different.

The final novel of Le Carré’s was published posthumously and is a quiet novel of what happens within the world of espionage when one gets, well, old. Where do the lives of these people end up when they are no longer of value to Queen and Country within the service? Where do they take their secrets? Does one ever really stop being a spy?

I found myself switching back and forth between reading the physical book while also listening to Tobey Jones perform the audiobook (of which he did an amazing job, I might add) and truly felt cozy within the narrative. Though I had to re-read parts due to my limited knowledge of more modern politics – read as: politics outside of The Cold War – I still came to care for the characters and sad for their situations. It’s a difficult book for me to review because it feels like such a character study rather than Le Carré’s other novels which tend to usually involve at least a little bit of action. But in a way, that’s why I think I liked this one. It was different and yet familiar, packing the same punch that his other novels do in their endings with endings resolved but not exactly “happily”.

If you’re a fan of Le Carré, I highly recommend both book and audio for Silverview. If you’re new to the late, great man’s work, I do suggest looking into his Smiley series. They’re a great place to start.

MANGA REVIEW: Monster (Perfect Edition) Volume 1

I’ve once again fallen victim to a reading slump, but a number of people said that I should try reading a volume of manga or a graphic novel to break it. While I think the slump is still in effect, it does feel lighter.

The manga I chose to read was Naoki Urasawa’s hit Monster, an intense drama that crosses several genres. It’s a series I’ve wanted to read for a long time and I’m so happy I finally have!

Dr. Kenma Tenzo is a prodigy of a neurosurgeon from Japan that is on the up-and-up at a hospital in Germany. With a beautiful fiance and the potential of reaching Cheif Surgeon, Kenma is living the dream life. But when his job as a doctor is being corrupted by the politics of the hospital, he loses it all. Feeling better at the bottom, Kenma has realized his job is about the patients’ success, not his own and has been going about his business. When there’s a triple murder at the hospital, Kenma’s life is flipped around as he is dragged into the crimes as he is the one who has the most to gain from it. But the rabbit hole goes deeper than that, and Kenma has very real choices to make if he has any hopes of keeping anyone alive.

When I was in high school, I was under the impression that this series was a paranormal-hospital drama and oh boy was I wrong. Monster is a hospital drama that morphs into a political drama (given that the setting is in Germany in the 1980s when the Berlin Wall was still up) and then changes again into a serial killer story. The twists are intense and the way the story unfolds is wild, with a ten-year time skip after the first few chapters. I think Kenma is a sweetheart thrust into a horrible situation and I wonder if – with the title of the series – we will get to see him unravel into someone similar to the very monster he is hunting.

The edition of the manga that I read was the Perfect Edition, which I think is a combination edition of the first two volumes and I’m looking forward to reading the rest. The editions feature the proper colour pages and are just gorgeous. Urasawa’s art is so classic and wonderful and his story-telling abilities are on point.

I would recommend this series to fans of Deathnote, Hannibal, or Doubt and Judge. It’s definitely worth checking out.

REVIEW: Six Degrees of Assassination

Six Degrees of Assassination is an Audible Original drama series, written by M.J. Arlidge and staring incredible names like Andrew Scott and Freema Agyeman. It is a ten-part, fast paced political thriller where everyone is connected and no one is safe from the fallout.

And I loved it.

To give a synopsis, the Prime Minister of England has been shot at a public appearance and now MI5, MI6, and the House of Commons are all working together to figure out who has committed this terrible crime while also fighting to keep parliament afloat. Everyone is an enemy and personal lives are getting pulled into the cross fire. Who shot John Campbell? And why?

All in, this series is around 5-hours long and I honestly marathoned it over the last two days. Any moment I could listen, I did. (Even if I’m supposed to be keeping up with other thing right now…oops…) The entire cast is amazing and the characters they play are very easy to fall in love with. Andrew Scott is a true chameleon of an actor and his portrayal of Alex in voice alone was show stopping.

I know this is probably a one-off series that Audible has done, but I would happily pay for more with Alex Cartwright in the future. A very, very excited five out of five for this one. I implore anyone with an Audible membership go download this.

Six Degrees of Assassination is a free series available only to Audible members. This post is in no way sponsored by Audible.

REVIEW: Amberlough

I picked this up when I was at the bookstore simply because of how gorgeous the cover of the hardcover edition was. When I brought it home and saw that the first review on the inside cover said it was “John Le Carré meets Cabaret“, I knew I’d made the right decision in buying it outright. And once I got swept up in the glitter and glam of Donnelly’s queer underworld, I wanted to buy it all over again.

The story followers three major players, government worker Cycil, his lover and criminal big wig, Aristide, and a dancer/runner named Cordelia. The three of them all lead very different lives that are soon bound together in conspiracy as a radical “right-wing” government entity known as the Ospies takes over.

I found it took me a few chapters before I really got into the story, but I very quickly fell in love with all of the characters. I’m a huge John Le Carré fan, so I can certainly say that the comparison between Lara Elena Donnelly’s book and the work of Le Carré definitely belong in the same category. Cycil is honestly everything I love about cold war era spy novels while Aristide is everything I love about modern queer fiction while Cordelia is just a straight up kick-ass woman.

The plot falls very closely in line to Cabaret, but takes in it a new direction that is incredibly intricate as not only does it wind the personal lives of it’s protagonists together, it also has a very deep set political plot in the foreground. The world building an incredibly metaphor of the real world and at the end of the day all I can really say is that I can’t wait to get my hands on book two.

If you like spies, drag queens, and shameless queer sexuality, this is definitely the book to pick up.