It’s been a while since I’ve done a book review on here. Not because I haven’t been reading (or reviewing, for that matter), but simply because most of my reading of late has been of traditionally-published books. In this blog, I highlight independently-published works which I’ve enjoyed.
Looking at the last 20 books I’ve read, about one in five are independently published. The quality has varied, but generally they’ve been good. Concrete Underground stands out from them in a number of ways. For one thing, it is uncompromisingly violent and raunchy compared to the rest – not something I usually seek out in a book or movie. Yet the physical abuse and sex scenes are written in a very matter-of-fact way, which doesn’t negate their impact, but carries the reader along without making him or her cringe in horror or embarrassment.
The book is also interesting in that it raises more questions than it answers. My response to reaching the end of it was to start reading from the beginning all over again, as I wanted to try to work out what the answers to those questions are. The writing was of such a high quality that this was not any sort of hardship.
Concrete Underground is also different from my other recent reads in relation to its genre. It’s been described elsewhere as ‘postmodern pulp fiction’, which is as good a description as any. The book is a mystery, with a morals-free, Mexican investigative journalist main character who is looking into the activities of a search-engine company’s CEO. The story takes a sideways look at the overly-monitored lives we lead today. One passage that sums this up stood out:
…the age of surveillance is only a symptom of the new hyper-narcissism that has infected our collective reality tunnels. We invite the surveillance cameras into our homes because they are proof that someone is paying attention to us.
If you’re willing to try something new and aren’t put off by adult content, I highly recommend this novel. It’s not always a comfortable read, and may leave you feeling more confused at the end than you were at the beginning, but it is definitely worth the ride.