Monday, November 10, 2014

The Rabbit Back Literature Society

The Rabbit Back Literature Society
Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen,
Translated by Lola M Rogers

First Published in Europe 2006
U.S. Translation Publication Date Jan. 2015

First Sentence
"The reader was at first surprised, then shocked, as the criminal Raskolnikov was abruptly slain in the middle of the street, right before her eyes."

Publisher's Description:

Only nine people have ever been chosen by renowned children’s author Laura White to join the Rabbit Back Literature Society, an elite group of writers in the small town of Rabbit Back. Now a tenth member has been selected: a young literature teacher named Ella.

Soon Ella discovers that the Society is not what it seems. What is its mysterious ritual known as "The Game"? What explains the strange disappearance that occurs at Laura White’s winter party? Why are the words inside books starting to rearrange themselves? Was there once another tenth member, before her? Slowly, as Ella explores the Society and its history, disturbing secrets that had been buried for years start to come to light. . . .

In Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen’s chilling, darkly funny novel, The Rabbit Back Literature Society, praised as "Twin Peaks meets the Brothers Grimm" (The Telegraph), the uncanny brushes up against the everyday in the most beguiling and unexpected of ways.

Dear Reader,

My first impression after starting The Rabbit Back Literature Society was "yes, another book about books, writing and all the bookish awesome you could think of!", I do love these. However, as interested as this book kept me, it wasn't enough to love it... only "like" it. Before I can tell you what I liked and didn't about the book, I think you need a little more background. I usually try not to go into the plot but for my opinions to be clear, you have to know the basics. Ella Amanda Milana is a substitute teacher of Finnish language and literature at the Rabbit Back school, where she finds a discrepancy in a "Crime and Punishment" edition brought to her attention by one of her students. When she return the book to the Librarian, Ingrid Katz, she inquires about the plot changes to that particular edition. The Librarian snatches the book away and tells her it must be a misprint and these things happen. Ella feels the Librarian acted strangely and decides to investigate the situation a little closer. This brings her amongst the Rabbit Black Literature Society, founded by famous Author Laura White. We also learn this society plays something called "the game" and this reveals secrets within each member.

As you may notice, the plot sounds super intriguing right? Well, the book IS/WAS but the main character fell entirely flat for me. As the other characters grew around Ella, and you started to feel connected with them... you lost that connection with her. The mystery of the society, the game, the Authors, all this held my attention and kept me reading to the end, I'll give it that. I also loved when the Author introduced each new character, how they came with a revealing personal trait or story. For example, Ella with her defective ovaries or Winter getting so fat that he loses sight of his Mister Peter. I haven't yet experienced a book or Author that exposes the character before anything else. It's almost like imagining the crowd before you naked (while on stage) or maybe this is how it feels to be a part of a support group like AA?! The style is very unique and I liked how the Author also embraced this concept and embellished upon it with the societies "game".

Overall, this book had some interesting style to it. This might be attributed to the cultural differences between Finland and the United States, I haven't picked up many Finnish books or maybe this is truly a style the Author is known for. I have to say, if it weren't for that little bit of uniqueness, I might have rated this book even lower. I'm not going to lie, this will be a book I'll recommend to any writer and maybe even some book lovers, the society itself is a nice magical concept that might sparkle in the eyes of those aspiring for literary greatness. The Rabbit Back Literature Society also focuses on one of my favorite concepts about art, that we create the best art when suffering and emotional, not when life is perfect. I can't knock any book that delves into that topic, but that's my personal opinion.

Happy Reading,

P.S. - This ARC was sent to me by the Publisher & BookBrowse. A shorter version of this review will be posted on BookBrowse for their "First Impressions" program. Please check out the site and consider becoming a member, I love getting the monthly updates from them. 

The Rabbit Back Literature Society

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