Cover Image: Foe

Foe

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I loved this book. Reed has the ability to write fiction that is so unsettling it makes your skin crawl. It is the feeling that something is "off," but you can't quite tell what. In addition to being unsettling, it brings up larger questions about how satisfied with our lives. I particularly liked the twist ending, which I didn't see coming. This is a great read that held my interest all the way through.I read it because I was so enthralled by "I've been thinking of ending things."
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I enjoyed this book but I didn't like it as much as I'm Thinking of Ending Things. It was an enjoyable read but I felt like it was lacking in some areas. I didn't connect with characters as well in this one. I also didn't find myself as compelled to keep turning pages like I did with the other one.
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Iwin Reid blew me away with his novel I'm Thinking of Ending Things, and did not disappoint with his newest novel, Foe. It kept me guessing and wondering long after I finished.
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I fought my emotions through this entire book. From the first page, I felt unsettled and suspicious. Once I learned what the antagonist's plans were, I was seething and silently urging Junior and Hen to fight them. But this is exactly what the author intended. Reid's writing is sparse and he leaves a lot of room for his reader to fill in the blanks. You sense the tension in a particular scene and you come to your own conclusions about how it came to be that way. This was a quiet book, but one filled with emotion and more internal dialogue than anything. I finished it in a few hours because I couldn't stand to put it down. I needed to know what was coming next. There was a point in the novel where I thought I saw how it was going to end. It felt like the twist was going to be obvious, but I was wrong. The book was beautifully chilling and one I will not stop thinking about for a long while. *Advanced copy provided by the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
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I liked but did not love this book. It messes with your head, which is great. However, it just felt like it was lacking something for me. The twist was a fun surprise, though.
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This was my first Iain Reid novel and it certainly will not be my last. This short novel was eerie, atmospheric and an absolute page turner. The suspense was built up expertly and the ending had me floored!
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I absolute loved Reid's I"m thinking of ending things so I was a little nervous to pick this one up but it was just as amazing! Such an interesting idea that he was able to completely bring full circle.
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I don't think Iain Reid is my kind of author.  this is his 2nd book and I didn't enjoy his first.  However, I read the synopsis and decided to give it another try.  But I find his writing gimmicky and confusing. This was more of a mystery (that I guessed early on) than a thriller.

I wouldn't necessarily recommend this book but it may just be I don't care for his style.
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There’s something about Iain’s writing that I just love.  My mind was blown and the end of I’m Thinking of Ending Things and I’m just as bewildered with Foe!  But the writing is so good, I read this in one sitting because I couldn’t put it down.  

I look forward to more books from this author, they are a definite automatic buy for me!
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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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All I can say is amazing. I have never read anything by this author until I received this arc. The characters were amazing, the plot stayed strong throughout the whole book. Highly recommend this to everyone. 5/5
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What is it that makes us who we are? And just what would it take to create something that accurately captures that indefinable something?

“Foe” by Iain Reid is structured around that deceptively simple question. We all think we know what it is that makes us tick, but what if there were someone out there who wanted – who NEEDED to find a way to accurately recreate you for reasons that were seemingly important yet unfortunately murky.

What Reid has built is a philosophical puzzle-box of a novel, a near-future speculative journey that explores the notion of self-determinism and the lengths to which we will go to execute our perceived duty – both to ourselves and to those about whom we care the most.

Junior lives off the beaten path. He and his wife Henrietta live among the unending corporate-farmed canola fields. Their relationship – while strained – seems to be a relatively happy one. It all changes one day when Terrance shows up. He’s a representative of OuterMore, a shadowy hybrid of private corporation and government agency devoted to the construction of a space station/colony called the Installation.

The Installation is being built by people selected by lottery. Those selected are then put through a battery of tests by people like Terrance; partially to make sure that they are up to the physical and emotional rigors of the lengthy (two years or more) process, but also to determine the baseline foundational qualities of their replacement.

See, OuterMore believes that it’s important not to punish the loved ones being left behind as people spend years at the Installation. And so, after gathering all the necessary information, they produce a replacement – an artificially intelligent android that looks, sounds and behaves like the person who is leaving.

Junior and Henrietta are reticent about the presence of Terrance, but refusal doesn’t seem to be an option. Even after that awkward initial encounter, Terrance periodically returns to the farmhouse and puts Junior through a battery of tests that he finds unpleasant and difficult to understand. Meanwhile, a gulf begins to open between Junior and Hen that threatens to undermine their relationship even as the departure date fast approaches.

Is there something far more sinister at play with regards to Terrance and his increasingly-complicated tests? Junior has always been someone content with his lot; will this be the time that he finally puts his foot down and demands something more?

Like all top-tier speculative fiction, “Foe” uses the trappings of genre to express complicated ideas. The notion of being replaced by a machine is one that echoes current societal fears; if they can replace us at work, how long before they replace us in our own homes? How long before a machine is capable of replicating our perceived uniqueness? This idea of self and what exactly makes up that self – that’s the central conceit here.

The fact that Reid uses sci-fi stylings to explore philosophical concepts is engaging enough, but to wrap the whole thing up in a taut thriller package takes this whole thing to another level. The author locks us into Junior’s perspective, allowing us to experience his growing confusion and paranoia firsthand, all while offering only tangential insight into the actions of others. We’re right there alongside him as the walls slowly close in, leaving him completely untethered and uncertain.

There’s a raw, propulsive energy to “Foe” that lends itself to quick reading; it’s the sort of book that almost demands that the reader consume large chunks of it at a time. Short chapters can often serve as more of a distraction than anything else, breaking up the narrative flow, but Reid accomplishes the opposite here – the desire to read “just one more” is nigh-overwhelming at times. Creating that sort of compulsive reading experience isn’t easy, yet Reid makes it seem so.

It’s not often that you come across a book that is both a challenge AND a page-turner, but that’s what we have in “Foe.” Novels with this sort of conceptual complexity aren’t supposed to be this readable. It is a thought-provoking thriller, the sort of book whose secrets hover just beneath the surface awaiting discovery.

All in all, a worthy “Foe” indeed.
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Iain Reid is such an amazing writer! Foe has to be one of my top 10 books for 2018. Incredibly written, great story line, and I just couldn't put it down! It was captivating!
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The story of being unsure of your own love and your own self in a relationship when a stranger interferes has the same dazzling dexterity displayed in Reid's previous novel, I Am Thinking of Ending Things. I guessed most of the end game in the first quarter yet this twisty Twilight Zone-ish tale is still very effective. A quiet, quick read that drains you emotionally with a smack of sticky dread that Ian Reid is so damn good at.
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This is one of the strangest books I've read in a long time - and I enjoyed every minute of it.  The excellent writing evoked an eerie atmosphere and built suspense.  I thought I had things figured out but I wasn't even close.  I don't even want to hint at the ending.  It's jaw-dropping.
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Oh my goodness I loved this! First of all, it was under 300 pages which is shorter than most books I read. This was refreshing because I feel like many times writers stretch their stories longer than they need to be, just to hit the average word count of best sellers.  Because Foe relies on elements of slow-building suspense culminating in a knock you off your seat surprise ending, my review needs to be written carefully. I would hate to write it in a way that would spoil any of the story.

This book was very, very suspenseful. It is told from the perspective of one of our main characters, Junior. Being inside Juniors head really gave me an inside look at his thoughts at the strange situation he has unwillingly been placed in. As you read above in the book summary, Junior and Henrietta live quite a ways outside of town. So when a visitor shows up late one night, it is very out of the ordinary. It becomes even stranger when the visitor introduces himself as Terrance. A representative from a well known company called Outermore.  Outermore is a global organization that was formed over six decades ago, and began as a driver less car company.  The global company now has much grander ambitions and is working towards the resettling of humans away from Earth as well as further space exploration. (Sounds like real life company Tesla and Space X!) Junior has been selected as a potential candidate for their first trip to "The Installation". This trip will take him away from Henrietta for at least two years, and they will have minimal if any, communication capabilities. Junior will not have a choice whether to go or not if chosen. For the next two years, they will be interviewed and monitored from time to time by Terrance in preparation for Outermores decision. Thus begins the psychological journey we go on with this couple. There are so many questions raised, the most important one being how will their relationship survive such a strange, forced, temporary separation. When they express these concerns to Terrance, he excitedly says not to worry. They will be sending a replacement to keep Henrietta company while Junior is away. A literal clone of him! What could go wrong? Haha.

At this point, I am not going to give any more of this story away. It builds so slowly and I was hooked on every word. This is a book that you need to read very closely. To be honest, I think this would be a great one to read a second time. There are many details I probably overlooked.  Make sure to be very attentive to details and small character actions, or the surprise ending may go right over your head. I felt very proud of myself that I got it right away. I patted myself on the back after picking my jaw up off the floor that I caught what had happened. This is a great book to read in one sitting, and I really think it will appeal to readers with all sorts of tastes. Don't let the "he's going into space" thing deter you. This is not a sci-fi space book. It is a thriller, with a twist.

PS: This book reminds me of my two of my favorite shows The Twilight Zone & Black Mirror.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher Gallery/Scout Press for this Advanced Readers Edition of Foe: A Novel by Iain Reid.

See this and other book reviews at www.BookItForward.blog

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I’m don’t typically love Science Fiction, but I have been known to occasionally enjoy genre mash-ups that dip their toes into Sci-Fi (e.g. Dark Matter, The Beautiful Bureaucrat). Part literary fiction, part page turner, part Sci-Fi (and definitely creepy), Foe falls in this category. From the moment the book opened (and, really, well into the second half), I had no idea what was going on. It was clear that some omnipresent higher power had control over regular citizens and something wasn’t quite right with Junior’s wife, Hen. Outside of that, Foe had that “WTF is going on” vibe that permeated The Beautiful Bureaucrat. And, I was incredibly curious to find out. My overwhelming curiosity and very short chapters had me turning the pages quickly. The best thing about Foe for me was that, in addition to the unsettled feeling about what was going on, it examines a marriage (power dynamics, life choices, and isolation) and makes you consider big life questions (What is humanity? How do you feel about progress?). Foe is a unique book and a great choice if you’re looking to try out some Science Fiction without jumping headfirst into the deep end (plus, make sure you don’t mind creepy, but not in a scary way!).
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I had this feeling of low-key anxiety throughout this entire novel, making me question the way I live my day to day life and whether I take moments and memories for granted. The book felt like an existential 'what is the meaning of life' type book up until the end when the reader is hit by an unexpected twist in the story. This is one of those books that deserves a second read once the twist is revealed. It's no wonder Stephen King put this on his short list. This is a story that will stay with you and make you think.
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Such an unusual and gripping story by author Iain Reed. No question, a mind-bender as quoted in the summary. I couldn’t wait to turn the pages and find out what happens to Junior and I continuously wondered about motivations and drivers behind Henrietta’s behavior. This was a quick read, held my attention completely and equally as fascinating as his debut novel ‘I’m Thinking of Ending Things’. I am so glad that Reed decided to sidetrack away from his award-winning non-fiction books and dive into twisty thrillers. Looking forward to Reed’s next book!
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Dude. This book. I really feel like I need to get together with a group of other people who've read it and talk about it. The English major in me came out while reading this. My goal is to write a nice review without analyzing aspects of the text that I thought were AMAZING!

Junior and Henrietta "Hen" live in a rural farm town a good distance from the city in this near-future psychological story. A visitor arrives one evening at Junior and Hen's farm, something so rare it hadn't happened before. The visitor tells Junior he's been selected to go on a once-in-a-lifetime journey far from home. Not only that, arrangements have been made so that Hen won't have to be alone while Junior's gone - she'll have a very familiar visitor. 

Reid did an amazing job with this book. Even though I predicted part of the end, there were so many questions that I couldn't figure out how the ending I predicted could happen. Which was exciting! Then the ending? WOW! If you pay attention to the signs you might figure it out, too. Honestly, if you don't figure out the ending, then you are legit missing the BEST part of the story. 

4/5

Stefanie Rae
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