{Book Club} Sweet Tooth & Vernon God Little

Sweet Tooth, Ian McEwan 

I spoke last time of my conflicting feelings and slight obsession with Ian McEwan. I am more in love with him than ever after his latest book, and yet even more frustrated. I want him to get out of my head, and I never want him to leave. This book is just perfection.

The story of a girl working a lowly day job at MI5, dedicated to the fight against the spread of communism in Europe but restricted by her gender and the institutional sexism of the times. As well as a justification of feminism, this is a wonderful love story. Gentle and yet forceful, captivating and all consuming. It is semi-autobiographical, and how much I wish it to be true.

I was captivated by the final chapter, literally mouth agape at the spectacular twist which McEwan executes with his usual, infuriating genius. I was as affected by this novel as I was at the end of Atonement; emotionally drained and yet elated, shocked with stomach churning at the brilliance of the novel, all at once. Just perfection.

Vernon God Little, D B C Pierre 

This was a re-read for me, I originally read it for a Uni course last year but it has been lingering in the back of my mind for a while. The sign of a good book, wouldn't you say? I wouldn't rave about this one in quite such reverent tones as 'Sweet Tooth' but it truly is excellent and very thought-provoking. The imagery throughout is truly disgusting, but it captures so perfectly the mind of a down-and-out teenage boy, and the stinking truth of human life that you get past the initial distaste.

The story of Vernon Gregory Little, the sole survivor of his class after a Columbine-style tragedy enacted by his best friend, Jesus. Vernon finds himself scapegoated by a grieving town desperate to explain away the shooting, victimised by an ambitious and conniving journalist and not helped by his reluctance to share his alibi (you'll understand why when you read it).

The novel is populated by a variety of vivid caricatures rather than characters, with few exceptions, but that only makes it more brilliant. The story is captivating, and the ending is heart-warming despite the despair that permeates the rest of the novel. A great read - it won the Booker Prize for a reason!