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Book Review: Sebastian Faulk's Engleby

Engleby was written by Sebastian Faulks in 1997. He's best known for Birdsong, which is the only other book by him that I've read. I'll start by saying that the two books could not be more different and it's not just when it comes to the genre. Birdsong resembles the writing and tone of World War I writers like Erich Maria Remarque while Engleby is wholly modern. The writing is fast-paced, at times verging on pseudo-intellectual, but the plot can be quite slow. 

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It follows the life of Mike Engleby from his time in university in England during the 1970s to when he reaches middle age. The narrator is one of the most unlikeable protagonist that I've come across in a long time. Not only that, his manner of narration makes it seem unreliable - mainly caused by his evidently poor mental state. My perception of the character was constantly changing as a result, ranging from sympathy to disgust. This is not to say the novel wasn't enjoyable, as I thoroughly enjoyed the book because of this. It challenges your judgements of others and is a deep study into the psyche of an especially complex individual. 

Another aspect of the book I enjoyed was its ability to take the reader back into the 1970s, which was a decade that seems to rather insignificant in itself. The descriptions of the setting goes well with the general tone of the book, which I wouldn't necessarily deem is a pessimistic one but the reader has to decide for himself/herself what it's saying about life.