Cover Image: The Odyssey

The Odyssey

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Member Reviews

As per its synopsis, The Odyssey aligns itself with Sally Rooney and Ottessa Moshfegh, which is true formally and thematically, but the characters, environments, and events of this novel vibrate chaotically on another playing field, one where there is no end to the descent into nihilism and pain and conflict–there is only darkness, there is only the surreal.

Williams was successful in creating a POV so off-kilter that I felt physically uncomfortable while reading, jarred not only by the story’s events but by the whiplash of rooting for–and sympathizing with–Ingrid one moment, and then being afraid of her the next. While this was a fast-paced, thrilling read that led the reader down Ingrid’s spiral downward, it felt as though the story did not reach a breakthrough point, rather it became an affect and shock-inducing fever dream with no relief or reasoning that by the end left me wondering, “what just…happened to me?” But it kind of felt good?? 

Overall, this was an edgy and fun read, that pushed my comfort zone in quite exciting ways. My only formal critique is that while Ingrid is British, she uses a lot of Americanisms (ie. “apartment”, “garbage can”) that confused me at the start while I was initially trying to piece together her character.
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Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for letting me read an e-copy in exchange for an honest review.

This book was eerie and uncomfortable and dream-like and I think I loved it. We follow the unreliable narration of Ingrid, who has been aboard the WA cruise ship for 5 years, through the mundanities and horrors of her life on board, and the impacts of the mysterious new program she undertakes led by the ship’s captain. I thought this was a great critique of modern capitalism and it left me feeling nihilistic but not necessarily in a bad way. A lot of the questions this book leaves you with remain unanswered at the end which I can definitely imagine some people would find frustrating, but personally I didn’t mind this as it seemed quite fitting for such a surreal story. 

(Rating is 4.5 stars rounded up to 5)
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I was intrigued by the life of a cruise ship crew member so I chose this book to download on NetGalley. The author, Lara Williams, concocted a peculiar story about consumerism, and people's strange way of pursuing faith in somebody. The story is about Ingrid and her life on the WA ship as a crew member and a mentee to the captain of the ship, Keith. Ingrid's idiosyncrasies, her routines at work, her friendship with other staff, her alcoholism, and her married life make her a unique character.

The Odyssey calls to mind comedies with peculiar characters such as Derek played by Ricky Gervais, and Mr. Bean by Rowan Atkinson. Each of them has unique characteristics and stories that defy common sense and create absurd humor. The characters in The Odyssey make the novel leaves an inerasable mark in my mind.

Thank you, NetGalley, Lara Williams,  and Zando for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Oh, the possibilities. A high sea adventure, a cult…this book might have been excellent. Instead, in. decidedly less so fashion, it was hip. Think critical darling instead of something with a much easier (and more commercial) appeal. Mind you, normally I‘d appreciate that sort of thing – there’s plenty of sellouts peddling best-sellers out there, it’s nice to find something different – but, but this book was slightly too enamored with being different and it resulted in a dream-like dense nightmare-like spiral journey of a not especially compelling protagonist that even high seas and cults were unable to save.
     Or, to go in more detail, this is a story of a woman of an uncertain age, an alcoholic who left her adoring spouse to go work on a luxury cruise ship. The ship is a grand and self-contained affair featuring every amenity, including your friendly neighborhood cult the woman ends up in. The cult follows a Japanese idea that all things come from and go into nothingness and, to this end, the woman has to submit to a variety of trials, from intense talk therapy to having her finger cut off.  Yes, you read that right, her finger. And once she mastered herself, she can advance to becoming a master. 
     There are some onboard associations she has, friendships, jobs, and every so often she goes to the land and has drunken hazy adventures there, but that’s about it. The protagonist essentially spends her time not so much building a life but avoiding it and, specifically, avoiding going back to the life she had before, on land. There’s nothing quite like traditional three act structure and the untraditional appeal of this novel is somewhat tough to discern. The title presupposes a grand journey of self-discovery. In a way, I suppose, it is, for the character, it just isn’t especially interesting or engaging to read about. But, to its credit, it reads very quickly. Thanks Netgalley.
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Perfect & creepy & day-glo colors & why you wear white dresses (to watch the day sprinkle it’s dirt on you.) I loved this book.
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Thank you Netgalley and Author Lara Williams for this ARC.

Can we start with how amazing the cover is? Was definitely drawn to the book by it and then further intrigued by the blurb.

Story follows Ingrid and her life on a cruise where you get a sense that everyone who works there is escaping their reality. On Ingrid's journey, we meet a few more characters including Mia & Keith who bring out more of Ingrid's character. 

At times unexpected, thought-provokative and very easy to engage with story which leaves a lot to reflect on.
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