Cover Image: Attraction

Attraction

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Member Reviews

DNF %22
Sadly this was not for me, it was too here and there, and boring for my taste.
Nope, i could not do it.

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I really struggled to get into this book and found it dull and irritating. But I put that down simply to it not being to my taste. I kno0w readers who will enjoy it very much

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this was an enjoyable read, the characters were great and I really enjoyed watching them go through the conflict. Overall this was a great read.

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This is a complex debut novel by author #Ruby Porter. Three women on a road trip should give you a little hint.This novel has a unnamed narrator,haunting and plenty of complexities.Winner of the Michael Gifkins Prize.
Thank you,
#Netgalley, Ruby Porter, and # TextPublishing

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Attraction was just an okay story to me. I just could not get into it really. I am going to give this book two stars.

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Three women are on a roadtrip in New Zealand. Dubbed a tale of what it means to be and to belong, to create and destroy, it never quite lived up to its promise, personally. In some cases its writing was incisive and evocative, in others it was left wanting. There is some brilliant writing here, but the book sadly wasn't one for me.

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Ruby Porter’s debut novel Attraction features an unnamed narrator, her not-a-girlfriend Ilana, and the narrator’s childhood best-friend Ashi. The girls take a roadtrip through New Zealand to the narrator’s family bach but the trip is filled with tension, anxiety, and jealousy as the girls struggle to define their relationship with themselves and each other. The novel also follows the narrator’s white guilt, what it means to be part of a family, and colonialism in New Zealand, both past and present.

This novel is unlike anything I have ever read. The format is distinctly its own, bouncing between the past and the present, the personal and the historic, hopefulness and despair. From the start, it is a roller-coaster of emotion.

My feelings about this work are almost as complex as the work itself. One one hand, I greatly enjoyed this as a literary novel and I finished it in one day because I couldn’t put it down. On the other hand, almost everyone in this story is unlikable, including (especially) the narrator. The narrator laments her toxic relationship with her ex-boyfriend and this theme carries into the narrator’s relationships with her family, friends, and not-quite girlfriend. The narrator is unreliable, as is everyone telling a story about their own life, and she often reminds the reader, “every time you remember something you’re only remembering the last time you thought of it”.

The story has no real ending and no significant character development. These letdowns paired with the dark history of colonialism in New Zealand, and it’s pervasiveness today, left me frustrated and disappointed. With that being said, that’s how life goes sometimes. Not everything is happily-ever-after and people don’t always experience a miraculous change of character.

The thing is, even if the characters aren’t necessarily likable and the history of colonialism in New Zealand is depressing, it’s real. You can feel the raw emotion in the writing. It’s so utterly human and that is part of what makes the terrible aspects of it so wonderful. I can understand why readers would be put off by the style or the theme of the novel but I think those who can get through those barriers will find it captivating, emotional, and thought-provoking.

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This is a difficult one to review. While the writing was lovely and descriptive at times, and in clipped speech in others there wasn't much of a storyline to hang on to. I read it carefully to see if there was but I think it was more a journey for journey's sake than a strict passage from A to B. I can see this sort of book being studied at school for its differing writing styles and insight into a different culture.

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I was drawn to this novel because it was written by a New Zealand author and because of that aspect, it felt like I was reading about what I knew. Places. Language.

The unnamed narrator is an unusual aspect but makes this story unique. It was bitsy, hard to read but short and sweet. I could see this being a text studied in high school, it’s something my teachers would’ve had us read.

A solid three stars for me.

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Three women make their way across New Zealand’s North Island in this debut novel. During this time they will explore their relationship with each other, and the islands colonial history. Our unnamed narrator has a complicated relationship with Llana her on/off girlfriend, Ashi her best friend and even with herself. She’s battling on all fronts and is struggling with the legacy of an abusive ex-boyfriend and on top of everything her period is late.

There are a lot of threads to follow in this debut and it takes a talented writer to keep them all relevant. I think on the whole she succeeds and where problems become a bit entangled or lose focus it really is art imitating life. Lives are messy. I wondered if the author was also trying to give the reader some idea of how it feels to be in the narrators head. It’s very telling that our narrator doesn’t have a name. She could name herself but doesn’t and that absence is important. Does the narrator feel invisible in her own life? We can tell from her narration that she is low in self-esteem and the ugly way she presents her world suggests self-loathing. If she doesn’t name herself she doesn’t exist and maybe she doesn’t want to. Her disgust is evident in the imagery of dirt and decay from stains to bodily functions.

She even depicts New Zealand in a very different way to the usual myth of a paradise filled with exceptional landscapes, freedom, relaxation and a slower pace of life. Instead she sees human’s contribution to the country like a cancer. Humans are almost parasitic, eating away at the beauty we know exists. This could be linked to the colonial heritage that’s an important thread in the novel. I read Post-Colonial Literature in my final year at university so I’ve come across NZ authors, including Maori creation myths so it was interesting to see this Pakeha perspective. The author is embarrassed that she can’t use Maori place names and is having to use ‘white colonial’ substitutes. She feels a guilt about making homes on stolen land. She even takes lessons in ‘the reo’ the Eastern Polynesian language spooking by Maori people. In the course of the novel she learns her own family we’re more involved in the New Zealand wars than she realised. This prompts an exploration of inheritance and whether we take on ancestral guilt.

The relationships of the present are equally strained and there is a claustrophobia about being stuck on a road trip, with the same people in a confined space. Something we can possibly all relate to at the moment in lockdown. The weather doesn’t help, with frequent rain keeping them all confined. There is also a triangle forming as our narrator is in a very tenuous relationship with Llana, but Llana seems very taken with our narrator’s best friend Ashi. I found it hard to like any of them so couldn’t really invest in their relationships, but I did get a creeping sense that after all the contemplation and simmering tension, someone might explode!

I did enjoy the author’s use of language though and there are flashes of something really special. Her description of the ‘Bach’ is so vivid I can see it. The description of the town of Levin is viscous; ‘everywhere daytime TV can be seen, through pulled lace curtains’. The town’s population is ageing rapidly and the nursing homes are described as dead ends that it’s easier to die in, than live with. She also uses unusual words to describe things such as ‘people clot in the waiting rooms’. This description of the local hospital takes blood imagery and uses it to show how overcrowded the hospital is, how slow the ageing population are and the impression of them blocking up the system. It’s like the life-force of the place is slowing down and choking it. This shows skill and a distinctive style that would make me want to read future novels by the author.

My sister-in-law is from Gisborne, one end point of this road trip, and I will be buying her a copy to ask her opinion, as she works solely with the Maori communities, I’m looking forward to charting with her and reading new work from an interesting debut author.

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Examining white guilt, belonging and what it means to live now Attraction is a read that you'll get out of what you put in.

Told in fragments that slot next to each other or build on previous fragments or contradict them, the novel is an interesting read but not an easy one.

I am very unfamiliar with New Zealand but still found this an insightful exploration of post-colonial guilt.

I wish that there had been a bit more of a solid throughline but that wasn't the type of book this wanted to be.

Thanks to netgalley and Text for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

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I felt that Attraction was filled with so much raw emotion. There is a lot of guilt and angst as the main character reflects on their relationships.

The narrator is actually unnamed making it a bit hard to connect to the book the way I would have liked. They are also not all that likable. However, I was still intrigued and wanted to know more about past relationships and history.

The writing offered a well-paced story that I don’t feel dragged at any point. I struggled with some choppy writing that felt a bit disjointed at times, which led to the three-star rating for me. The setting for Attraction is New Zealand, which I always enjoy reading about. This story offered a great New Zealand setting as the plot surrounds a road trip through the country. I liked reading about the locations and some of the history referenced.

The story features three women who are taking a trip together for some family time. As the trip progresses, there is a lot of reflection on relationships. The emotional baggage that comes with a deteriorating love story was portrayed really well. I enjoyed that the perspective was discussed for both LGBTQ and heterosexual relationships.

I would recommend Attraction for readers that enjoy a story with less plot and more beautifully written prose. If you enjoy an exploration into a character’s thoughts and feelings, this would be a great book for you.

I was provided an advanced reader's copy of this book for free. I am leaving my review voluntarily.

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Unfortunately, this wasn't the read for me. I thought the beginning was compelling and I was interested to see where the story would go, but the more I read the more I found that I wasn't getting along with the writing style. It was very clipped and brusque, which made the narrative feel distant and emotionless. I wish I liked this more, but I can definitely see others enjoying this.

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I had to shelf this book at about 20%. I just wasn't getting on with it. It felt all over the place and told in very short paragraphs. I didn't feel like it gave me enough to connect to.

I can't even remember what I read if I'm honest. This just wasn't working for me at all. I found the prose difficult to absorb and digest.

:( Looking at the premise, this does sound like a good book so disappointed that the writing style just isn't working for me.

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Really evocative and intelligent examination of friendship and post colonial guilt. This felt ‘New Zealand’ to the core, with lyrical use of language and a serving of melancholy to leave a lasting impression.

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Three young women set off on a road trip to spend some time on a family bach together, and the complexities of their relationship one with the other are explored as the trip progresses. The unnamed narrator is not particularly likeable, is self-obsessed to a fault, and the book is an introspective, and occasionally insightful, look at female friendship, sexual attraction – both gay and heterosexual – and what happens when relationships disintegrate. It’s a meandering journey, both the physical and internal one, and I found myself impatient with all the angst at times. Nothing much happens and there’s little character development. It all seemed a bit pointless and inconsequential and it’s no surprise to see that Ruby Porter has been compared to Sally Rooney, another writer whose work I find inconsequential. However, the writing is fluid and the narrative rattles along at a good pace. It’s very much a New Zealand novel, firmly rooted in that country and with many NZ references, and therefore some knowledge of NZ history, culture and colonial past is pretty much essential to fully appreciate much of the book, especially the post-colonial guilt and shame. Even the word “bach”, so central to the story, will be unfamiliar to some readers. Personally I found the Maori themes more interesting than the narrator’s coming-of-age odyssey, but it does make the book of perhaps local and particular relevance rather than universal. Overall I enjoyed it, even if I found the narrator irritating at times, and as a debut novel I found it impressive indeed.

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Having never visited New Zealand myself, the author's descriptions of the land and colours really enabled me to feel as though I was travelling through the landscape alongside the characters on their road trip. The writing style and slang didn't make it the easiest of reads at times, but what it lacks in flow, is made up for by the conversations focusing on landownership, family history and the impact of colonialism.

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Set during a road trip across New Zealand’s North Island, Attraction by Ruby Porter relates the thoughts of an unnamed narrator, a self-conscious young woman stuck in an anhedonic fug while holidaying at the family ‘bach’ with her girlfriend and another close friend. Things don’t go well from there, with kind of an angsty time had by all.

The narrator’s self-loathing manifests in her thoughts as a sort of generalised ugliness that pervades her surroundings, in the form of stains, bodily functions, squalor, decay and the almost necrotic effect of human activity on the landscape - very different from the ‘pure’ NZ promoted to the world.

The narrator dwells on her relationships with the other two women at the bach as well as an ex-boyfriend. In general, I find sexual entanglements and jealousies quite a dull topic in fiction (the rare exceptions are almost always 5-star reads), added to which I really failed to see the, well, attraction of any of these characters, whether it be physical chemistry or magnetic personalities. Even if the ardour dulled before the novel begins, it's helpful to see a flicker of what drew them together in the first place.

The novel's other themes – family inheritance, legacy, the narrator’s feelings of guilt over New Zealand’s colonial history and living on stolen land – were for me, much more interesting. The narrator takes te reo lessons and peppers the novel with the Māori language. She berates herself for using colonial European place names, rather than their original Māori names, and discovers her own ancestors were more directly involved in the New Zealand Wars than she’d previously realised. It is very much a ‎Pākehā perspective and I’m curious to see how New Zealanders react to Porter’s approach.

Comparisons will be made to Sally Rooney and it's easy to see why: Porter's style comes across as a little ‘Rooney-esque’ ('Rooneyan'? Is it too soon for Sally Rooney to have her own adjective?). If anything, Porter's characters are even younger and more plugged-in than Rooney's, but the similarities only go so far.

Attraction suffers at times from an overuse of figurative language that disrupts the narrative. It’s also kind of cluttered (realistically so, after all people’s lives are messy) which makes it hard as a reader to find a focal point: is it the extended family dynamics? Her post-colonial guilt? Her relationship with Ilana? The pregnancy scare? A search for artistic expression? That’s a lot to tackle at once, especially in a debut. It’s clear though, that Porter is a greatly talented young author, and I look forward to her next novel with interest. 3.5 stars.

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This was a highly depressing, in the most familiar way, read, a witness account of a crumbling relationship/friendship told through varied glimpses, through fragments, that leaves the reader empty and emotionally drained in the end. It definitely started to drag a bit and to become a bit too vague at times, drifting around in an untethered way, but perhaps that's part of the emotional landscape; ultimately, this doesn’t really go anywhere after all, it is simply a narrative built around themes about family and guilt and relationships.

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Creative unique loved this book .Literary fiction at its best a book Inwill be recommending to all my bookish friends.#netgalley#textbooks,

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