Wednesday, 16 July 2014
Book Review: Angel by Alex Norris
by Alex Norris
Available from Amazon
Lewis Blake is a 20 year old university student, coming to terms with being cruelly dumped by a former flame. After a night of heavy drinking, Lewis meets Rosie, a homeless woman who comforts him and opens his eyes to a new world outside of the university bubble. Tired of the meaninglessness and vacuity of student life, Lewis embarks on a quest to give his life genuine meaning, aiming to help those without homes and without voices. But in his attempts to aid those around him, Lewis becomes lost in a world of depravity, secrets and seedy encounters, which threaten to destroy his friendships and plunge him further into isolation and despair.
Depressed and disillusioned after breaking up with his boyfriend, Lewis is unsure what he really wants to do with his life. His lectures hold little interest to him anymore and all his friends seem vain and shallow. Surely there's more to life than this?
Meeting a homeless woman called Rosie, she points him in the direction of Revitalize, a group that offers a free meal to those down on their luck every Saturday. Lewis turns up and finds he really likes helping people and wishes he could do more. It's winter and snowing, and most of the people are out on the streets without even a blanket or sleeping bag.
But like the people he wants to help, like most students Lewis is broke and can't really afford to help.
He's been on a dating website and a couple of times he's had offers from older men who would 'gladly pay you for your time.'
Lewis debates this for a good while and then decides to take them up on their offer to grant sexual favours for money.
Now, despite there being sexual scenes in the book, this is not erotica or romance. The encounters Lewis has are written in such a way that the reader probably feels as about uncomfortable as Lewis does during them. He feels dirty and used, but still keeps doing it in order to get more money to help the homeless.
Lewis is a wonderful, conflicted character and as the book is entirely in his first person point of view, that's who you relate to the most. Some of the other characters felt a bit flat, like Lewis' frineds at UNI. I don't know whether they were really that shallow or whether it was just because we were seeing them through his eyes.
One character who was very well-drawn, was the trans character of Jamil/Brigitte, but we didn't get to see as much of them. There was a very interesting side tale there, but we didn't get to see enough of it.
My favourite scene was when during one of his tutorials, Lewis argued with the tutor about why were they wasting their time discussing fictional people when real people were in trouble right outside the door? And then he stormed out.
It's an interesting, debut novel and a bit different than anything else I've read.
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