Friday, June 13, 2014

Sulphuric Acid

Sulphuric Acid
Amélie Nothomb

Published 1999

First Sentence
"The time came when the suffering of others was not enough for them; they needed the spectacle of it, too."

Publisher's Description:

Some time in the future, audiences have tired of traditional reality television shows. One channel decides to try something new and ‘Concentration’ - the reality television death camp - is born.

Participants for the show are rounded up and loaded onto cattle trucks, among them the beautiful young woman Pannonique. When Pannonique is delivered to the death camp and the cameras are turned on, she unknowingly becomes a media star, but she soon understands that her situation is all too real . . .

A huge bestseller in Nothomb’s adopted France, Sulphuric Acid is a blackly funny, shocking and provocative satire on our modern obsession with reality television and celebrity.

Dear Reader,

This is one of my favorite Authors of all time. Amélie has this magical way with words, and if you've been following my reviews, you'll know I'll gush about her until the day I die. Did I love this book? No, but I did like it. This might be the first Nothomb book that didn't take my breath away, and that's okay! I don't expect her to blow me away EVERY time. I want to, but realistically, the odds aren't in my favor. Haha, get it? Okay, so maybe that went over your head because I haven't mentioned what this book is about but after I do, you'll get the cheap Hunger Games reference.

Sulphuric Acid plays with a theme that has been hashed out OVER and OVER again. Put yourself in the future, you've been kidnapped and brought to a prison, only to find out this is no ordinary prison. That's right, this prison is a TV Show, one where they tape everyone suffering and even their deaths. Recognize this? From the 80's movie "The Running Man", and the Japanese movie "Battle Royale" in 2000, to the book/movie franchise "The Hunger Games", each one of these has a similar plot line (almost like they've been copied off each other). There might even be others, who knows. What I really love... is that this novel came out in 1999, which pre-dates almost all those I've mentioned (The Running Man came before).

Getting back to Nothomb, she usually writes novellas and this is one of those at only 127 pages. She clearly had a statement with this book, she wanted to show the disgust of the viewers (the public). The one thing that stood out from this book and those other books/movies, was the idea that the finger should be pointed at the source. For example, in The Hunger Games, Katniss clearly throws her effort into overthrowing the makers behind the show. What Nothomb wants her reader to understand is that the ones behind the show are not the bad guys, we are. If we watch these horrible shows, the public is giving it fuel. I found this difference to be really interesting. It almost serves as a warning, let's stop complaining about the media throwing disgusting things down our throats (be it the news or those stupid reality shows). Let's stop watching them and see if the content will change.

If that's not enough, Nothomb also does in 120 pages what wasn't done with any of the others. She gives us a perfect example of kindness, love and patience. The main character is awe inspiring in her spirit and how she patiently takes what is given to her (none of it good). She doesn't give any satisfaction to her abusers and in turn wins the heart of the public. There is a lot to learn from her ways, and I don't know if I would have responded well to the book without her. If this is your first Nothumb, pick up one of her others first. If you've experienced her and she wasn't your cup of tea (who are you?!?) I would suggest trying this and seeing if this does it for you. Point being, I found Sulphuric Acid to be different from her other work. Not bad though, I don't think she is capable of writing anything bad.

Happy Reading,

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