When I picked this novel up, I did not know what to expect. I didn’t know much about it at all, I hadn’t read Extence’s previous novel The Universe Versus Alex Woods, and the only introduction I had was a tiny blurb of the character explaining that the reader is going to find her frustrating.
It took me on a ride that I was not anticipating. It is essentially, and to put it crudely, about mental health. We follow a woman who experiences manic episodes and has bipolar yet is continually attempting a normal life, we are living through these attempts with her.
I enjoyed this novel, I found it refreshing and continually unexpected… It kept me reading and the title baffled me for a long time into the book (maybe too much?). It is raw and feels very true to life, which I actually think quite a rare thing in fiction. Once I found out the reasoning of the title out further on in the book, I loved it. It really rounded everything off.
The characters are too real to feel anything but understanding and empathy. You can relate to all the different characters and yet you accept them as different people rather than characters to like or dislike or to judge in any way. Because of this, I very much enjoyed Extence’s writing.
The ending was slightly anticlimactic and I was kind of waiting for something to happen but this novel demonstrates that mental illness is not a story with a happy ending but an ongoing thing that you have to live with.
I thoroughly enjoyed it. Having said that, I have read a lot of novels recently that have been focused on mental illnesses… A light read is due.
The Mirror World of Melody Black by Gavin Extence