Book Review: The Race by Nina Allan

Race-TitanCoverThe Race is a very interesting debut novel by Nina Allan. If you’re a fan of Allan’s short stories then you certainly won’t be disappointed by this book.  What I found most intriguing about this novel is that it may read differently to different people: it all depends on what one is willing to put into it. This novel is a delightful puzzle of plot of character for the reader to unravel.

I will deal with the general information first. This book is remarkably well-written. There is a smoothness and flow to Allan’s prose that makes it difficult to put the book down. There is enough detail to make the worlds of the book real and not an overabundance that might end up bogging the reader down.

The characters are thoroughly developed without being overbearing. There are beautiful expeditions into the minds of the characters that provide the reader with a map of the complex territory they are trying to navigate through. If there’s an underlying theme I am tempted to say that it is fear or hesitancy. In order to explain that i would have to spoil the plot of the book for you. I really don’t want to do that because I think this novel is quite original.

Here is my disclaimer: if you are going to read this book, you may not want to continue reading my review. While I was reading this I was a bit confused, at first. Being a little lost wasn’t an unpleasant because the writing is quite breath-taking. As I got further into the novel I began to see a pattern. Now, I could be wrong, but I think I’m on to something.

There are four sections to the novel which could almost be seen as related novellas and one appendix. There is an appendix which is actually a short story written by the character from the second “novella”. Christy, one of the main characters, is a writer, and I believe that she wrote the first novella and obviously, the appendix. The first book, entitled “Jenna”, is clearly a reflection of Christy’s life. Both Christy and Jenna have brothers who frighten them, they have homes they wish to escape even though they are drawn to them time and again. Both women have lived through fear to go forth and become more than they are at the beginning of their respective stories.

The novella, “Jenna”, is arguably the only science fiction writing in the book. That is, unless you buy into my theory of how the book is constructed. If Christy is the author of Jenna’s story, then I would say that the entire novel is science fiction. Isn’t it delightful to have this kind of dilemma when reading a book though?

From the Titan Books website


A child is kidnapped with consequences that extend across worlds… A writer reaches into the past to discover the truth about a possible murder… Far away a young woman prepares for her mysterious future…

In a future scarred by fracking and ecological collapse, Jenna Hoolman lives in the coastal town of Sapphire. Her world is dominated by the illegal sport of smartdog racing: greyhounds genetically modified with human DNA. When her young niece goes missing that world implodes… Christy’s life is dominated by fear of her brother, a man she knows capable of monstrous acts and suspects of hiding even darker ones. Desperate to learn the truth she contacts Alex, a stranger she knows only by name, and who has his own demons to fight… And Maree, a young woman undertaking a journey that will change her world forever.

The Race weaves together story threads and realities to take us on a gripping and spellbinding journey…

Product Details

  • ISBN: 9781785650369
  • Dimensions: 203 x 131 mm
  • Paperback: 448pp
  • Publication date: 19 July 2016
  • All authors:
    Nina Allan


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