The Crazy World of Emma Pullar!
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Well, it’s been a while since I posted. I would like to say that it is because I have been too busy with my writing and just haven’t had the time but, sadly, I have to admit that I just haven’t been “feeling it” for a while and this blog has not been high on my list of priorities. Shameful really.
Anyway, I have been busy reading and have just finished Skeletal by “newcomer” Emma Pullar. I had to highlight “newcomer” as, although this is Emma’s debut novel, it is certainly not her first publication; although it is very different from Curly from Shirley!
Skeletal follows Skylar, a downtrodden inhabitant of Gale City, ruled by the mysterious Central and split, very clearly into two groups; the monstrous, obese Morbihan who have everything and everyone else who largely just exist to keep the Morbihan happy. Selected to act as a “Host” for a Morbihan family (the Morbihan do not naturally reproduce) Skylar fights against what she sees as an even more horrific existence than her old life working in a meat processing factory. Escaping with Bunce, a young “Morb” unsure about his own future, they set out on a quest to find a fabled cure for the Morbihan condition.
And that explains only a tiny bit of what is going on in this roller-coaster of a story. I don’t want to go into too much more detail as that would be to give too much away, but there is still plenty to discover about the grubby side of Gale City. Emma’s dystopian novel doesn’t shy away from the horrors of the cruel future she depicts on the pages, so some of it isn’t for the faint-hearted or anyone who has ever found themselves panicking over a blocked toilet! However, it all fits into the story and never feels gratuitous. Mind you, if you were worried about blood and guts, you probably wouldn’t be looking for a dystopian novel.
Even where it isn’t intentional there are reflections and elements of other great stories in Skeletal such as The Hunger Games, The Handmaid’s Tale and one of my favourite Sci-Fi films that I can’t mention without giving a major plot spoiler away. This is dystopian fiction, so you might expect some similarities to other stories, but none of them feel forced or “thrown in” just because they have worked before; they all serve the story and serve it well.
Before reading Emma’s story I came across another review that was critical of the pace of the story and the way (in their view) that characters were introduced and dispensed with at alarming speed, meaning the reader had no time to grow attached to many of the supporting characters surrounding Skylar. Personally, that is what I liked about the book, there is no “filler” in the story and it tears along at a great pace. Supporting characters do come and go, but they do so in order to support the main story and leave when they are no longer required. Or die. Horribly. Emma doesn’t shy away from killing her characters off!
So, marks out of 5? A clear 4 out of 5 for me. While it may not be the perfect novel (whatever the hell that is) it is a riotous adventure through Gale City that starts quickly and doesn’t let up for the next 370 odd pages! If you enjoy dystopian fiction and strong female leads then Skeletal is the book for you! Emma is working on Part 2 and it can’t come fast enough. While Part 1 works on its own and you can enjoy it even without a follow-up, I for one grew fond of Skylar and am intrigued to see what direction for story takes in the next novel.
So, Emma, get the kids to bed, feed Rupert and get typing!