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Maybe it’s because I studied Philosophy at Sixth Form, but I’m always drawn to media that tests our limitations as humans. Concepts that force us to go beyond what we think we know… I love it! There’s something about speculative fiction in books and films that energises me.
Another Life is that sort of book – philosophical and mind-bending at points, it provides so much more than you initially expect. It’s a style of book that isn’t so plentiful in the mainstream, so I’m always keen to get my hands on anything that promises this sort of experience.
***AD: This post features press samples but all thoughts are my own***
“Imagine… if we could combine dreams and reality in a world where we live forever. Oliver believes his life to be one of disappointment and failure. Haunted by the memory of a mysterious woman he encountered thirty years ago, and obsessed with finding her, he embarks on a strange journey of grief, hope, myths and legends where dreams and truth merge.”
(Taken from Goodreads)
Another Life is certainly one of the more intriguing books I’ve had the pleasure of reading in 2021. It fits well within speculative fiction… Parts are wildly philosophical, yet there’s a strong domestic element to it as well. The combination of narrative fiction, fact, and mythology give it an edge that makes it quite different from other books.
The book follows Oliver, a character who sees his own life as a failure. Many instances he can trace back to a lack of success on his part. Despite being inspiringly selfless and altruistic, he is wracked with grief over what he hasn’t contributed. He has an interesting perspective, and not one I see very often in novels.
Despite feeling like a failure, Oliver is actually a very intelligent and curious individual. A chance encounter thirty years ago consumes his mind and he feels he must seek answers. At the beginning you have no idea what he’s going to find… Is Oliver walking into a dark situation? Is he about to find something that will illuminate his current life? Or has he got everything completely wrong? By the end (which diverges in a fascinating way), you’ll probably have more questions than answers. But I guess that’s the point of the book… It has a purpose that only truly makes sense once you’ve read it.
Although the story is fictional, there are many elements drawn from fact and mythology. Those of you who know me will be aware of my fascination with archaic and Pagan belief systems, so I was excited to see the Green Man being such a key symbol within the book. On his journey, Oliver explores the meanings of such historic symbols, and I learnt a great deal whilst reading. There’s also a science-fiction element to the story, which again was illuminating in terms of the knowledge of possible future discoveries for science.
The writing style can be quite clinical at points, but this works well with Oliver’s personality. It also suits the factual parts of the book, which wouldn’t come across so well in a more breezy style. The narrative parts read almost like a memoir, which I found interesting – I liked this, as it really felt like I was reading a true account of something, and it made it feel very real. Chapters varied in terms of length – some a few pages, others much longer. The author used an interesting structure, where he wrote four defined parts that split up various stages of Oliver’s journey and life. Each part then split into smaller chapters.
I also really liked the cover – it uses a lot of white space, which isn’t too common. However, it comes across as simple and clean and I just find it so pleasing to look at. It suits the content within and has greater symbolism that becomes apparent as you read.
Another Life is not a casual read – with so much knowledge and speculation within, it requires focus to really get the most out of it. Similar to books like The Shack and The Celestine Prophecy, it not only features a protagonist’s journey but also a journey for the reader themselves. It’s not a book that you just read, but rather one that should be fully absorbed and digested.
And if you do that? Then it’s not just a story, but a whole myriad of concepts to ponder on. And those concepts will stay with you long after reading, which in my opinion is a sign of a very good book.
If you’d like to purchase your own copy of Another Life then you can do so using the following links:
“Owen W Knight is an English writer of contemporary and speculative fiction. His works include Another Life, described as ‘It’s a Wonderful Life for the 21st Century’ and The Invisible College Trilogy, an apocalyptic dystopian conspiracy tale for young adults, described as ‘1984 Meets the Book of Revelation’.
Owen was born in Southend-on-Sea at a time when children spent their days outdoors, creating imaginary worlds that formed the basis of their adventures and social interaction.
He has used this experience to create a world based on documented myths, with elements of dystopia, mystery and science fiction, highlighting the use and abuse of power and the conflicts associated with maintaining ethical values.
Owen lives in Essex, close to the countryside that inspired his trilogy.”
(Taken from Goodreads)
Have you read any speculative fiction before? Would you read any books within the genre? Share below, and don’t forget to like and pin if you enjoyed this review? You might like the following book reviews: