Alice and the Fly by James Rice

alice and the fly cover

Rating: 3 / 5 stars
Format: Paperback
Published: 15th January 2015
Book Depository | Goodreads

Miss Hayes has a new theory. She thinks my condition’s caused by some traumatic incident from my past I keep deep-rooted in my mind. As soon as I come clean I’ll flood out all these tears and it’ll all be ok and I won’t be scared of Them anymore. The truth is I can’t think of any single traumatic childhood incident to tell her. I mean, there are plenty of bad memories – Herb’s death, or the time I bit the hole in my tongue, or Finners Island, out on the boat with Sarah – but none of these are what caused the phobia. I’ve always had it. It’s Them. I’m just scared of Them. It’s that simple.

I can’t decide how I feel about this book. It was partially based on the authors own life. He states “I was chronically shy as a child… I wanted to distance myself from school, from that whole experience. To have a keep-your-head-down-and-get-through-it attitude. I wanted to write something from the point of view of a schoolboy that felt real – real to the experience I had at school“. The author does this very well. But the entire way through this book I couldn’t get the image of my own high school out of my head. I had a very similar experience at school, I didn’t have many friends and spent many lunchtimes on my own. It was very weird, I kept imagining the characters in my own high school, even though it was nothing like the one described in the book. I spent more time thinking about my own high school experience than I did of the characters.

There was one thing however that annoyed me about this book. It is about obsession and mental illness. The main character has schizophrenia. From very early on in the story you know there is not going to be a happy ending. The entire way through the book you are trying to guess what is real and what is happening inside the main characters head. At the end there is a small epilogue telling you what was real and what wasn’t. I didn’t like this. Throughout the book you are told enough that you could make an educated guess at what happens at the end, I would rather have come away from the book still trying to workout exactly what happened instead of being told outright.

Basically this was a strange one, I can’t say I liked it but I didn’t exactly dislike it either.

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*I received a copy of this book from Hodder & Stoughton in exchange for an honest review.

16 thoughts on “Alice and the Fly by James Rice

  1. I see what you mean about the epilogue. It would have been more fun and interesting for the reading to be the one to guess what was real or fake. It would help the readers to move to little gears at their heads and put together a puzzle of what was the real thing.

  2. I feel that way about so many books I read…there are parts I’ll like too much to write it off, but I’m wary of recommending it because of one or two things that I’ll view as major shortcomings.

    1. I had that exact problem with Revival by Stephen King. Most of the book wasn’t that great and I would have given it a low rating. But the end was like 5 stars amazing.

        1. See thats the problem I had, even though the ending was good I didn’t think the ending alone was enough to give it a better rating. Because the rest of the book was really quite boring.

          1. A fair point. Although I kind of prefer that scenario to one where a lot of build up in the story is great…and then it keeps going…and going…and the book ends. And you’re wondering where the main conflict or action was and why you missed it. Or if there was one at all.

  3. Hi Emma, I have a copy of this too and also found it a bit strange. I cant see what all the hype is about im afraid.
    Thanks for visiting my new blog.
    Gill x

  4. I was similarly mixed on this – enjoyed it but perhaps not as much as I’d expected to. I had a chance to interview the author recently (Interview with James Rice) and it was interesting to learn more about his process – as you say, there is definitely links back to his own life in some of the emotional stuff.

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