Saturday, 1 November 2014

Review: The Rabbit Back Literature Society by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen

UK book cover of The Rabbit Back Literature Society by Pasi Ilmari Jaaskelainen
For the first time ever, I've read every book I bought on a Waterstones trip with Ellie within a week of buying it. I actually do kind of want a medal for this please. I admit I only bought four and I only read them consecutively because I was stuck at Lewis' with no other material, but still. Praise me.

Plot summary: Only very special people are chosen by children's author Laura White to join 'The Society', an elite group of writers in the small town of Rabbit Back. Now a tenth member has been selected: Ella, literature teacher and possessor of beautifully curving lips.

But soon Ella discovers that the Society is not what it seems. What is its mysterious ritual, 'The Game'? What explains the strange disappearance that occurs at Laura's winter party, in a whirlwind of snow? Why are the words inside books starting to rearrange themselves? Was there once another tenth member, before her? Slowly, disturbing secrets that had been buried come to light...

The Rabbit Back Literature Society is a very charming book on the surface - Ella, the main character, is invited to be a member of an elite writing club founded by Laura White, the hugely important author of a children's book series (kind of like Beatrix Potter). Ella is suitably excited and everything is lovely and adorable... except not.

Laura White disappears and Ella is introduced to The Game - a secret ritual that the members of the Literature Society can play on each other at any time. It's absolutely fascinating, and that's where all semblance of charm ends. I was impressed with the way such a dark game was tied into the process of novel writing - it's not immediately obvious what the purpose of it is, but it does eventually make a lot of sense. Although it's an important plot point, it's not the focus of the novel and I'd have liked to know more about it. We get to see the other members play The Game, but not Ella herself, which I feel would have been particularly interesting.

She's not too bad, as fictional characters go, although I wish her motivations had been explained a little more. We're given her very basic incentives for investigating the Literature Society, but not why she's so willing to go that far. Which is vague, but this is one of those books that you're best off unravelling for yourself.


It makes me want to write! I can't; I'm terrible, but this book makes writing novels sound like such a whimsical art form. Don't get me wrong, I know that blood, sweat and tears go into writing books (and this novel reinforces that - literally) but I love when something you're reading convinces you to go out and try something new.

So it's going great, I'm loving this book and I'm just enchanted by the novelty value... and then the epilogue happens and it all goes screwy. Seriously, has there ever been a good epilogue in the history of literature? Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, The Lord of the Rings... authors should know when to put the damn pen down and back away from the manuscript.

First off, it ended too soon without actually answering any of the questions asked in the blurb, which doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. Not in a 'make up your own mind' way, more of a 'yeeeeaaaah, I didn't finish this book' way. So not the good way. It annoyed me because I was really interested in the book plague especially and I still don't know anything about it! Also, the main point of the book, Laura White's disappearance... nope, still have no idea.

Secondly, it brought in a lot of seemly paranormal elements but it never told us why they were there or even if they were 'magic' at all. I finished the book frustrated and fuming - it hurts all the more because I'd really liked The Rabbit Back Literature Society until that point. Damn epilogues.

To conclude, this is an interesting, unique book with a pointless, unsatisfying ending. Make of that what you will, but I'd recommend reading it anyway. I was completely hooked until the last chapter or so, and it's a rare book that can engross me so completely.

Read a different review of The Rabbit Back Literature Society at Vulpes Libris.

7 comments:

  1. Down with epilogues! All the ones that I've ever read are at the least disappointing, if they don't make me mad at the whole rest of the book. Urgh.

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    1. THANK YOU. I do a little groan everytime I see one.

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  2. I sometimes think that an epilogue's an easy way out. Almost as though the author couldn't wrap up the story properly and so just let's it drift off and then goes "Ah ha - look what I meant would happen in the future!".

    I'm probably not going to read this because I feel a bit as though I'd be waiting for a bit of a pants ending and also because I *hate* books where there are questions or mysteries referred to in the blurb that just aren't dealt with. Hate them. Which is a shame because that cover is adorable and it would look kind of perfect next to Vanishing Act by Mekke Jakobsen (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15847980-the-vanishing-act).

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    1. That's exatly the problem with this - there's no reason for that part of the book to be an epilogue at all. I mean, I hate the Harry Potter epilogue most of all, but at least it was appropriate for it TO BE an epilogue.

      I don't know, I did actually like it and I think you might too. Maybe ELibrary it? But yes, the ending is atrocious. It's times like these when I understand the appeal of fanfiction - if some random person wote a better ending of this, I would happily read it.

      Oh, I love that cover. They would go very well together.

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  3. When I read "Praise me" I did actually have a mental image of a gospel church and lots of people raising their hands to the sky and you wearing a toga with light shining around your head. I did. I just wanted to admit that. It might be because I'm hungry, or because I'm tired, or because I need more caffeine, but IT HAPPENED.

    Maybe I'll library this one. It sounds interesting, but if the ending's crap then it'll be nice to be able to take it back, haha. :D

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  4. Ugh, I need to be better at reading the books that I buy right away! I have a really bad habit of buying books and then it being quite awhile before I actually get around to reading them. You do deserve a medal!!!

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  5. Nice to read this review.First time I am visiting this blog. I found so many informative stuffs in this blog.I like your writing style and language.Currently i am working on an article and i hope this article will helps me to write better.Thank you so much for sharing this.

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