Having read both of these short thrillers back to back, I’ve decided to review them as a couple as they both packed a punch and both are worthy recommendations.
Fever Dream is a mere one hundred and fifty two pages, but it managed to effectively get under my skin, leaving me feeling unsettled and wary to go to sleep. Amanda, our main character, is lying in a hospital bed trying to remember how she got there, with the help of a small child named David. David is not her child, but he seems to hold all of the terrifying answers she seeks. We discover these answers at the same time as Amanda, and this creates a tense, pessimistic feeling that permeates your thoughts as you read.
Schweblin has a way with the cutting language that fits in perfectly with the racing mind of the protagonist, and prevents us from guessing the ending prematurely, if we ever do understand what happens, which is debatable. This lack of understanding we achieve only adds to the other thrilling elements of the story, leaving the reader mildly winded.
Similarly, Iain Reid refuses to allow us to understand what is happening until the very end, being vague both in the blurb and the story itself. We struggle to relate to the main female character, wondering why she is going along on the trip with the intention to end her relationship. We only realise at the end, when it is too late to form any guesses. This removal of the ability to guess the ending is what makes both the books I discuss here excellent thrillers with very little room for improvement.
It must be admitted that immediately upon finishing I’m Thinking of Ending Things, I felt I would rate it a two or three stars at best. This is because nothing much happened throughout the novel, and there was a type of haze surrounding it as though you were being excluded from the party. However, after stewing over it for a few days, I understood this was part of what made the book so effective. I genuinely couldn’t stop thinking about the ending for a few days, Reid concealed it so well.
Something the two authors, Samanta Schweblin, an Argentinian Spanish language speaking author, and Iain Reid, a Canadian author, have in common is that these books are both of their bestsellers. Previously, Schweblin has only published books in the Spanish language, although it appears her translator for Fever Dream, Megan McDowell is looking to change this. Iain Reid has previously only written articles and memoirs, meaning this fictional thriller is a wide detour from his usual style. However, I feel that this paid off for both authors and I am greatly looking forward to anything new either of them release.
For reasons discussed above, I would greatly recommend both of the books in question. However, I would recommend that you read them both in one or two sittings, as I feel some of the tension could have the potential to be lost otherwise. They are both extremely short novels, so hopefully that would be achievable in order to gain the most from them.
If anyone has any recommendations for books along the same vein, please feel free to recommend, as I was blown away by these two and am hungry to devour some more thrillers of this nature.