POVone: The First Person Perspective

Rants and Reviews on Novels Written in the First Person Point of View

Tag Archives: Sociopath

Book Review: Blood on Snow by Jo Nesbo

Author: Jo Nesbo
Title: Blood on Snow
Genre: Suspense
Publication Date: April 7, 2015
Publisher: Knopf (Random House)
Number of Pages: 224
Narrator: Olav
Quality Rating: 68.34

Blood on Snow by Jo Nesbo

What’s It About?

Olav is a “fixer.” He works on commission for a wealthy man who gives him assignments that he carries out with precision. Olav has no family and no connections. He is a ghost…and that’s what makes him the perfect contract killer.

Despite killing people for a living, Olav has somewhat of a soft spot. He expresses pity toward some and indifference toward others. When his boss offers him a large sum of money to kill his adulterous wife, he at first thinks it’s going to be just like any other job.

While preparing for the execution, Olav watches his boss’s wife and is drawn to her. Then, he discovers they her “lover” is more of an oppressor. The man is raping her. She keeps quiet, he assumes, because he has information on her that she doesn’t want her husband to know. Instead of killing the boss’s wife, Olav decides to kill the man exploiting her.

When Olav tells his boss about what he did, he discovers the man isn’t just any man. He is someone important. Suddenly, Olav and his boss’s wife find themselves on the run. As he eludes people who are trying to kill him and falls in love with the woman whose life he’s spared, Olav must use all of his cunning to survive while he gets to the bottom of a conspiracy he’s been drawn into.

Should You Read It?

I haven’t read other books by Jo Nesbo, but I’ve heard this one is quite different. The narrator is somewhat of a mentally disturbed and semi-psychotic individual. He is driven by an ambivalence toward human life that manifests itself in many philosophical musings throughout the development of the story. The tone reminded me a lot of Normal, with the crazy narrator being a contract killer rather than a serial killer. While there is much introspection, there are also several interesting plot twists. So, if you enjoy a good thriller with somewhat of a philosophical bent, you might appreciate this story.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Interview with NPR

Book Reviews: Boston GlobeThe Guardian, Paste Magazine

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Jo Nesbo: The Son (2014), Phantom (2011), The Leopard (2009), The Snowman (2007)

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Book Review: Still Waters by Ash Parsons

Author: Ash Parsons
Title: Still Waters
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: April 21, 2015
Publisher: Philomel (Random House)
Number of Pages: 320
Narrator: Jason

Still Waters by Ash Parsons

What’s It About?

As a senior, Jason is known by all as the tough guy from the wrong side of the tracks. He gets into a lot of fights and has a scary reputation among his peers. But, in his view, he doesn’t start trouble; he is simply very efficient at finishing it. Defending himself and his sister against the abusive tirades of his father, experience has taught him to stand and fight rather than to walk away.

Jason is a loner. He is guarded in his relationships and only has one friend that he really opens up to. So, when he is approached by the most popular kid in school with an odd proposition, he is naturally suspicious. Seeking to build his reputation for an undisclosed reason, this other boy offers to pay Jason to hang out with him. Reluctantly, Jason agrees–because the money may just give him and his sister their ticket to freedom.

As Jason begins to hang out with the popular crowd, he senses that something is off. The more time he spends with them, the more he feels like he’s being set up. As new people come into his life, he isn’t sure who he can trust. Suddenly, the lines aren’t so clear. Who will he need to fight? And who will he need to fight for?

Should You Read It?

If you enjoy the kind of young adult story that centers on a kid dealing with a bad home life, you’ll probably really love this book. For a YA novel, it was really gritty and disturbing–so it’s not for the faint of heart. The focus on a disadvantaged kid trying to make the most of the situation reminded me a lot of Where All the Light Tends to Go. There is a lot of mystery and intrigue built up throughout, leading to a dramatic conclusion. Also, there’s a good balance of introspection and fast-paced action–so it would appeal to lovers of both literary and genre works.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

Book Reviews: Dee’s Reads, Bibliophile Gathering, Book Reviews and More by Kathy

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Ash Parsons: Still Waters is Ash Parsons’s debut novel.

Book Review: Normal by Graeme Cameron

Author: Graeme Cameron
Title: Normal
Genre: Thriller; Suspense
Publication Date: March 31, 2015
Publisher: Mira (Harlequin)
Number of Pages: 304
Narrator: Unnamed
Amazon.com Reviewer Grade: B-, Very Good; of the first 41 reviews, the average reader rating was 81.95%.

Normal by Graeme Cameron

What’s It About?

The narrator is a psychopathic serial killer who captures teenage girls and keeps them caged for days in his basement. Once he’s broken them, he takes them out to play “games” with them. When he’s finished, he hacks them to pieces and hauls them off to be burned. His life is perfect–but then that perfect life begins to unravel.

First, the police begin to close in on him–suspecting him of being connected to a recent disappearance. Then, as he’s caught up in the investigation, the unthinkable happens–he falls in love. The more time he spends with this woman he met at the grocery store, the more he wants to change. But it might just be too late for him.

Meanwhile, he’s been keeping the same girl in his basement for months. Her tenacity perplexes him, and he just can’t seem to let her go. When his prisoner turns out to be more formidable than he could have imagined, his new love is suddenly put at risk. How will he defend her? And, more importantly, how will she react when she finds out the truth about him?

Should You Read It?

If you like the kind of psychological thriller that really gets into the mind of a serial killer, you’ll love this book. The psychotic narrator is perfectly mercurial–at times utterly indifferent and at times filled with a strange longing. Aside from its nature as a psychological thriller, Normal also paints a vivid picture of what it’s like to be backed into a corner–trapped by circumstances with no hope of getting free. If this sounds appealing to you, give it a shot.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter

Book Reviews: Kirkus Reviews, Books Biscuits and Tea, I Heart Reading, Mischievous Reads

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Graeme Cameron: Normal is Graeme Cameron’s debut novel.

Book Review: The Room by Jonas Karlsson

Author: Jonas Karlsson
Title: The Room
Genre: Literary
Publication Date: February 17, 2015 (English translation)
Publisher: Hogarth (Random House)
Number of Pages: 186
Narrator: Bjorn
Amazon.com Reviewer Grade: C+, Average; of the first 58 reviews, the average reader rating was 78.62%.

The Room by Jonas Karlsson

What’s It About?

Bjorn has just started his new position for The Authority, and he’s having trouble fitting in. A bureaucratic organization embodying the typical twenty-first century white collar office, The Authority consists of average cubicle-bound workers going about their daily routines. As he seeks to establish a routine of his own, Bjorn makes an intriguing discovery.

Between the lift and the toilet lies what appears to be an ordinary office room. When he enters, however, he finds his center. The stresses of the office politics melt away and he is able to really focus on his work. Slowly and surely, Bjorn develops an obsession with the room and begins to spend more and more of his work day inside it.

When his colleagues start to notice Bjorn’s fixation, they become uncomfortable around him. His behavior seems odd to them, and he can’t understand why. He thinks that maybe they’re jealous of his ambition or that they’re just plain crazy. Whatever the case, they’re standing between him and his room–and he refuses to put up with that.

Will Bjorn’s room be taken from him? What is this room? Why does it in interest him? Why does his interest bother his coworkers? Is this room of his even real? Does it matter? These are the questions the reader wrestles with as Bjorn tells his story.

Should You Read It?

The Room has been compared to the writings of Joshua Ferris. If you enjoy the contemporary stream-of-consciousness form of storytelling, you’ll love this book. The narrator is self-absorbed and arguably sociopathic–somewhat reminiscent of Albert Camus’ Meursault. His internal dialogue is witty and darkly comic, as he seems blissfully unaware of the way people really see him. The book also serves as a metaphor for the oppressiveness of corporate life, so if you work in an office, it will be difficult not to enjoy it–whether you take the narrative seriously or simply see it as a joke.

Links and References

Author Information: Salmonsson Agency (Author Page)Facebook, Goodreads

Book Reviews: NPR, The Guardian

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books by Jonas Karlsson: The Room is Jonas Karlsson’s first novel translated into English. His other fiction can be found on his author page, linked above.

Book Review: Little Black Lies by Sandra Block

Author: Sandra Block
Title: Little Black Lies
Genre: Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Mystery
Publication Date: February 17, 2015
Publisher: Grand Central (Hachette)
Number of Pages: 352
Narrator: Zoe Goldman
Amazon.com Reviewer Grade: B, Very Good; of the first 50 reviews, the average reader rating was 85.6%.

Little Black Lies by Sandra Block

What’s It About?

Zoe Goldman, a young psychiatrist newly relocated to her hometown of Buffalo, New York, has started having the dreams again. She is a small child, cowering in a corner with blood on her hands. She smells something burning, hears an eerie whirring noise, and someone is calling her name…

Zoe knows the recurring dream is part nightmare and part memory. She has been told by her adoptive mother (who now has dementia) that her real mother died in a fire when she was really young. When she has the dream, she reasons, she’s remembering fragments of that incident. But she can’t shake the feeling that there is more to the dream than what her mind is letting her remember. So, she works with her own psychiatrist to try and figure it out.

Meanwhile, she resumes her work at the mental hospital engaging in everyday dialogue with her colleagues and assisting a number of patients. One new patient in particular, Sofia Vallano, really draws Zoe in. She can’t help but think there’s something more to Sofia, but she can’t put her finger on it. But, whatever it is, it makes her uncomfortable.

As Zoe digs deeper to uncover the meaning of her dream and understand the truth about her birth mother, she discovers the reality of her past and why her mind has kept it hidden for so long. She may not be who she thinks she is.

Should You Read It?

If you enjoy a good psychological thriller, you will love this book. The story doesn’t have a great deal of action; most of the plot revolves around Zoe trying to figure out her dream. But there are plenty of twists and turns–plenty of mystery and intrigue that build up to a dramatic conclusion.. There is also a great deal of dialogue. While Zoe’s internal state is troubled and dismal at times, the conversations she has with her colleagues and adoptive family are light and witty. The tone keeps your emotions on edge, oscillating beautifully between comic and eerie.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter

Book Reviews: Publishers Weekly, Examiner, The Big Thrill

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com