Reservoir 13

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 31 May 2018

Member Reviews

Some interesting people but because of the way it is written I found it very difficult to keep track of everyone. Very confusing way of writing.
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I really wanted to like this book but I'm afraid I found it so tedious. I began to skim read after around halfway but then gave up completely.
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Reservoir 13 begins with a search for a missing thirteen-year-old girl, visiting the village with her parents.

It’s easy to imagine where the novel will go. There is the possibility of a murder mystery or a crime thriller. You read on eager to take slow steps further into the lives of the villagers, the parents, perhaps even the young girl, Rebecca Shaw, but as the seasons pass and the press move back to the towns, as the mating cycles of the local birds, the foxes and badgers are described with the accompanying change in weather, that closer, deeper, more personal step never quite happens.

This overarching distance is what makes Reservoir 13 so unusual. You can see the changes in the countryside and its inhabitants at the same pace from the same perspective. This is not to say that we don’t swoop in and follow small intimate moments in each villagers life, moments that provoke reader reflection and interpretation, but we don’t stay focussed in for long. We watch the village from a distance, always returning to the memory of the missing girl, Rebecca, Becky, Bex, whose absence marks the landscape and provides a refrain for the passage of time.

I admire the lyrical and precise litany of reference to the plants, animals, structures, and humans living around Reservoir 13. I admire the distance that forces the reader to tease out the stories. It’s a considerable feat to write a novel like this. To remain so far away, to offer a reader such a privileged omniscience. And yet, I’m not sure that I like it.

It’s easy to write about a book when it absorbs and engages you, when a turn of phrase entices you in and carries you from one chapter to the next. When a novel is well-written, provocative in its questioning of what it means to write about the world, to judge it and give it a frame, it should be easier still, but I found myself constantly yearning to know more. I wanted to live with each of the villagers for longer. I wanted to know more about their thoughts, their hopes, their dreams. I didn’t want to guess at them – as I might in life – I wanted the privilege that writing, and novels in particular, can offer, that sustained and in-depth access into individual minds.

Reservoir 13 wants us to see the broader brush strokes, to give our own lives perspective in the wider whole, and the way Jon McGregor gets us to question our lives is radical and not always easy to read. You need to pay attention. You need to seek out the detail. You need to become the storyweaver, the novelist yourself. It’s hugely impressive but it leaves me melancholic and curiously unfulfilled. I can imagine this is a novel that will divide readers. Some are going to absolutely love it and others are going to find they start the novel and never finish it, leaving the question of whether the missing girl is ever found an unknown.

It is also radical not to write an ending that neatly answers the opening pages of a novel. That, for me, is a beautiful thing, but I remain unconvinced by Reservoir 13 simply because I delight too much in the dance into another person’s head.
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I've never read any of Jon McGregor's work before, but I'm glad I stumbled upon this one. He has the special talent of telling a story as an omniscient narrator, without much dialogue, but full of description and beauty. I call it a special talent because, when done wrong, it goes very wrong indeed, but McGregor is an expert at it. Reservoir 13 is a gripping, haunting novel.
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This was a very long winded book w2hich didn't seem to have a purpose and certainly no conclusion. I couldn't identify with any of 6the legion of characters and didn't find a story line to follow. Not my kind of story.
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A grim and gritty tale following the story - over a period of 10 years - how the disappearance of a girl affects a  remote North of England community. McGregor, by setting this novel in a dark and bleak landscape, makes the atmosphere consistently malevolent and brooding and honestly conveys how a tragedy can blight a community for years. A dark novel indeed.
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The writing annoyed me from about the third chapter when I realised it was always going to be the shallow clipped style. Too many characters with no depth too.
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You keep reading hoping for a resolution which never actually comes.
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I greatly enjoyed Jon McGregor's 'if nobody speaks of remarkable things' but I couldn't get on with reservoir 13.  He has chosen a similarly unusual way to approach his subject, but in this case it didn't work for me. There were so many characters which we only met in fleeting glances, albeit multiple times as the years went by, that they never really engaged my interest. Although the idea of it is intriguing and I am sure there is a good story here, the way the story is told didn't do it justice. Overall I found it repetitious and it soon became boring and I did not finish the book.
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Having read If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things by Jon McGregor a few years ago now, I knew instantly what a beautiful read awaited me in this book that was kindly given to me as an ARC from Netgalley.

Jon has a distinctive style, you see: it's all about the lyricism and poetry of everyday life. We flit from character to character, animal to nature, and all the while we're like a fly on the wall looking in on other people's lives.

Reservoir 13 was no disappointment in this sense. In fact, it was even better given the pull of the plot: a girl's gone missing. In his first book, we were observing what happened in an urban street one day. In Reservoir 13, we're following the characters for years as life goes on but the missing girl is still looked for and thought about.

You might find it strange to read at first, but the mystery helps pull the reader in and once you stick with it and get used to the writing style, it's unputdownable: much like the writing, us readers seem to float along the tide of observation.

If you're after a mystery or crime with answers, this is not your book. However, if you enjoy the thrill of a mystery and theorising over what happened, then you will absolutely love this novel!
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I found this a remarkable book, haunting, almost mesmeric, and totally compelling. Ostensibly it’s about a missing girl, who disappears when out walking with her parents. Immediately a search party assembles, and we’ve all seen such search efforts; police, helicopters, concerned members of the public. But nothing is found and eventually the search has to be called off. The whole village has been affected – but life has to go on. For how long, in reality, can you continue to care? And yet the girl is never completely forgotten. Her disappearance has changed the village in some fundamental way. Over the next 13 years we follow the community as the seasons come and go, nature’s inexorable progress through the year repeats and repeats, and life does indeed go on. There’s little drama here, and no plot. In an understated and detached tone, almost with a sort of aerial view as the author seems to hover overhead merely observing rather than commenting or explaining, we simply watch what happens to everyone. Each of the 13 chapters covers a full calendar year, and 12 of them start with the same words. We get to meet many of the inhabitants, get close to some more than others, feel we “know” some more than others, and we care about some more than others. Just as in our own lives and communities. It’s a rather gloomy downbeat view of life but I found it both convincing and deeply moving.
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Such a unique and evocative book.

No plot as such, this is more like the stream of consciousness of a village over the course of 13 years. 

It starts when a teenage girl goes missing, but don't expect a murder mystery or thriller of any kind, it very much isn't. It addresses how her disappearance touches, or doesn't even touch everybody in a Midlands village in the UK.

The seasons change, villagers get older, develop relationships, come and go. Nature and wildlife and the upping and downing of the water level of the reservoir come into play.

The prose is beautiful and quite captivating, the lives of the people of the village compelling - I felt carried along and wanted to travel the road even though there obviously wasn't actually a destination.

I loved this, but I do love the unusual - I can tell it wouldn't be for everyone, but the characters spoke to me, and I wanted to listen!
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Wow.. I read Jon McGregor's book 'If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things' a year or so ago and I loved it. Reservoir 13 is even better. A young girl goes missing on the moors above a small village and the book takes you through the following years through the viewpoints of inhabitants of the village and the ways in which their lives change. What is really striking about the book is the beautiful and lyrical use of language. It captures the changes of the seasons and thought and feelings of the villagers superbly. You really get the sense of being there, seeing the fox cubs play, the bats fly, hearing the intimate conversations of the characters and feeling the warmth and cold of the changing year. I don't think I'm doing the book justice but I'm struggling to find the words. Do they find the girl? You will have to read the book to find out.

Many thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a complimentary copy of such a wonderful book.
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What an unusual book. I wasn't sure at first. A tale of a small village and its comings and goings told in a most unusual way. Information in sentences rather than paragraphs which can be disconcerting and there were times when I forgot who people were, but a thoroughly enjoyable read that is hard to describe
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This is less about the crime, and more about the reading experience. If you're going to find that annoying then you probably shouldn't read it!

It's an extremely ambitious story, taking place in one village over 13 years and, somehow, dealing with a multitude of characters...what feels like the whole village in fact! The seasons come and go, changing quickly through each chapter, and the various characters come in and out, giving birth, dying, falling out, breaking up, leaving the village, and returning. And around them all is the spectre of the missing girl, Rebecca or Becky or Bex. I felt overwhelmed, initially - there were too many people to deal with and who was he talking about now? And what was going on? And are they a suspect? And will we ever uncover the truth? After a while, the rhythm and flow of the story settled me, and I allowed myself to be carried along by the beautiful language, and the very cleverly crafted characters. It's a little like listening to the Archers, or watching a soap...you get glimpses of people, some of whom you like, some you don't, and then just as soon as things are getting interesting we're off onto the next person!

I've read books by McGregor before & I've enjoyed them very much as they're always very lyrical and beautiful to read. This one took a little longer for me to settle into, but once I did, I liked it very much.
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This is stunning . The seemingly glacial pace allows the writer to examine a town and what happens to it and its people.

The plot is strong but the development emotionally of the characters is stronger , this is a phenomenal novel that sees the quiet desperation of English lives and shows it to the world.

Recommended without reservation
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it all begins in a kind of breathless style but we read closely because maybe we will see clues to the missing girl in the kind of Under Milkwood scouring of the loves and betrayals and underworld of this place. the girl is 13 when she disappears - no trace ever, but, like the town and her father, we keep reading closely. i was amazed at the adeptness of the writer in sustaining this level of close observance and also making us care that the teens go drinking and hiding when they shouldn't, or that the vicar - a lady called Jane - continues to try to bolster the community as the waves of reaction spread through the community - even when we learn that the local boilerman at the school never lets anyone into the room - we are suspicious - nothing comes of it - or so we think - but our attentions are keyed up - really superb craftsmanship and we learn to care for the town focused on this event that is looked into fervently.
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An interesting and unusual story.All the minute details of small village life over a period of time,where the missing girl is central but guidelines.
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Reservoir 12 by Jon McGregor

Undoubtedly this is a superb piece of writing, very visual in its descriptions of the changing seasons, landscapes, Society and its mores.  The narrative itself is unusual inasmuch as although it is chronological and linear the structure is more reminiscent of stream of consciousness.  A paragraph detailing the evolving season and changes in the countryside and husbandry will also reveal nuggets of information relating to the evolving relationships within the community; why a marriage flounders; why the children will leave the home; and why a business or farm will fail.

At the heart of this is a 13 year old missing girl; Rebecca, Becky, Bex and though her disappearance is a catalyst to begin the novel it becomes more of a refrain through the remainder of the book.

I did persevere with the book mainly because I was mildly concerned about Rebecca; other characters along the way slowly established their position within the narrative but I was never more than mildly engaged with them.  I was left feeling “..and…?”.  So, all in all, I was somewhat disappointed even though I found the descriptions of sheep farming more interesting.  

I do not wish to disparage this book because it is clearly a very clever book, but sadly not particularly to my taste.  A mystery it was, but not one that was resolved.

Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for providing an ARC via my Kindle in return for an honest review.
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This book was completely different to what I expected, hence I'm finding it quite hard to review. The book is obviously amazingly written, fabulously plotted and creates a vivid and wonderful sense of place and time, but I couldn't help but find it a little hard to follow sometimes, due to the vast amount of characters and the 'omniscient head-hopping'. What one expects to be the main plot (the missing girl) although constantly there, is pushed to the background as the writing instead focuses on the effect this has on the village, more so than explicitly about the crime itself. This is not a bad thing, in fact, it's a very interesting choice made by the author that ensures the books stands out, although may be a little disappointing for anyone expecting a 'crime thriller'. Overall, this book is written wonderfully but sadly will not appeal to everyone due to its unique narrative style.
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