Review: Consumed

Consumed by David Cronenberg
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I wanted to like this book so much. I really tried, if only out of service to my admiration for Cronenberg’s incredible back-catalogue of films. I’m a big fan of the guy’s work and so it seemed a given that I’d equally enjoy his debut novel, but it was not to be. It’s not that Consumed is an unmitigated piece of shit – there are some great ideas in there, some nice Cronenbergian body horror, and some hilarious, subversive moments. It’s just that these things, for me, felt buried beneath the endless philosophical ramblings and itemised breakdowns of technology that seemed to make up most of the book. I almost stopped reading this so many times. I know the emotional disconnect of the characters here is probably part of the point, that I’m supposed to feel like I’m observing the narrative on a laptop screen or through a camera lens, but the whole experience left me floating in a void of frustration and indifference. Having finished the novel, I feel like maybe I missed the point, that my reaction to it is wrong somehow, that maybe the story doesn’t really flounder in its own self-aggrandising philosophical wank, but who knows? I guess I’m torn because of the potential the book had for me. For every dull, esoteric moment there are glimmers of intrigue and horror, but being caught in this good/bad see-saw isn’t exactly what I’d call a good time. Even the book’s final scene feels both absurdly abrupt and actually quite clever. In the end, though, I was left dissatisfied and underwhelmed for a book with so many supposedly shocking and weird moments.

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