Foe by Iain Reid

Song Pairing: “Super Blue Moon” by Ralegh Long  Listen Here / 2018 HELLO YELLOW REVIEWS Playlist

Foe begins with a pair of headlights illuminating a quiet night of contemplation for our protagonist Junior, a man living a simple life in the country with his wife Henrietta. His world is about to be forever changed by an opportunity to join a super secretive government experiment that may remove him from his life for years, but for the betterment of mankind’s furthering of space settlement.

Junior is reticent of course. He works at the mill during the day, spends quiet intimate nights with his wife Hen, relishes in the simplicity of his routine. While Terrence, the experiment’s data-gathering representative, probes his life and analyzes him head to foot, Junior begins to fear he and his wife’s lives are in danger.

I’ll restrict my criticisms of the novel to eliminate spoilers, but suffice it to say that this is not the prodigal sophomore novel I had been hoping for.

 Though there are brief, beautiful moments where Junior contemplates his relationship with Hen that are truly splendid—Reid writes with a confident hand about what it means to really know another human being, to love the intimate details of their every inconsequential nuance.

“I’ll miss [Hen’s] steps, and the way she blows her nose. I wonder what she’ll miss. I wonder what she privately knows about me that I might not even know about myself. What will she miss about me when I’m gone?”

In spite of its heart, Foe’s twist ending comes too late to redeem its sluggish tread. It only serves as a novel which reminds me just how amazing Iain Reid’s first novel really was. I read I’m Thinking Of Ending Things in a single night of delirious, feverish, edge-of-my-seat joy. It was creepy and subtle and exactly what I wanted it to be. Foe, on the other hand, was cumbersome and repetitive. In every way that I’m Thinking Of Ending Things was fast-paced and chronically readable, I started and stopped on Foe continuously throughout October like a sore, stubbed toe.  

I love Iain Reid’s writing, but I would pass by Foe if you’ve got a TBR stack that’s way too high (like mine.) But for beloved fans of his first book, we’re getting a Netflix movie very soon which I’m hoping will do it justice.

Thanks to Netgalley for a pre-pub copy in exchange for an honest review.

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