Books & Writing

Familiar Vol. 1 by Mark Z. Danielewski: Book Review

One Rainy Day in May (The Familiar, #1)

Obtained: Purchased @ Indigo
Pages: 839
Publish date: May 12, 2015
Rating: ★★★★

I read House of Leaves and loved Danielewski’s writing style, so when I got a copy of this book in my hands, I knew I had to take it home with me. It was too beautiful to leave on some shelf that wasn’t mine. And I’m so very glad I did, because it ended up being one of my favourite books of the year.

Here’s the book summary from Goodreads:

The Familiar (Volume 1) ranges from Mexico to Southeast Asia, from Venice, Italy, to Venice, California, with nine lives hanging in the balance, each called upon to make a terrifying choice. They include a therapist-in-training grappling with daughters as demanding as her patients; an ambitious East L.A. gang member contracted for violence; two scientists in Marfa, Texas, on the run from an organization powerful beyond imagining; plus a recovering addict in Singapore summoned at midnight by a desperate billionaire; and a programmer near Silicon Beach whose game engine might unleash consequences far exceeding the entertainment he intends. At the very heart, though, is a twelve-year-old girl named Xanther who one rainy day in May sets out with her father to get a dog, only to end up trying to save a creature as fragile as it is dangerous… which will change not only her life and the lives of those she has yet to encounter, but this world, too—or at least the world we think we know and the future we take for granted.

Not until researching for this review did I learn that this is only the first part of series that will be 27 books long. This may seem hefty to a lot of you, but I flew through this book once I started and cannot wait to see how the rest of the story pans out. It also explains why this book’s story felt a little drawn out: it’s simply the introduction.

As I mentioned earlier, Danielewski’s writing style is what gets me. He could write a story about something totally uninteresting to me, and I’d find it amazing simply because of the creative way he uses words, colour, and the story’s literal structure on the page to create something beautiful and symbolic. I could read his work all day, every day for the rest of my life; I love this sort of contemporary style so much.

But the story did keep me interested. I loved how we got to see stories from different protagonists – some of which I enjoyed reading more than others. With there being 25 more books to be published in the series, it feels a bit like I just watched the pilot of Netflix’s newest hour-long contemporary sci-fi show.

And despite the fact that I already have decided which characters are my favourites and which ones I may not be as interested in, I can’t wait to sit back and binge-read the next episode.

One Rainy Day (The Familiar, Vol. 1) is available online at Chapters Indigo, Book Depository, and Kobo.

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