A taut, philosophical mind-bender from the bestselling author of I’m Thinking of Ending Things.
We don’t get visitors. Not out here. We never have.
In Iain Reid’s second haunting, philosophical puzzle of a novel, set in the near-future, Junior and Henrietta live a comfortable, solitary life on their farm, far from the city lights, but in close quarters with each other. One day, a stranger from the city arrives with alarming news: Junior has been randomly selected to travel far away from the farm...very far away. The most unusual part? Arrangements have already been made so that when he leaves, Henrietta won't have a chance to miss him, because she won't be left alone—not even for a moment. Henrietta will have company. Familiar company.
Told in Reid’s sharp and evocative style, Foe examines the nature of domestic relationships, self-determination, and what it means to be (or not to be) a person. An eerily entrancing page-turner, it churns with unease and suspense from the first words to its shocking finale.
Iain Reid is the author of two critically acclaimed, award-winning books of nonfiction. His debut novel, I'm Thinking of Ending Things, was an international bestseller, and was translated into more than a dozen languages. Oscar-winner Charlie Kaufman is writing and directing the film adaptation for Netflix. Foe is Reid's second novel.
This book should be getting soooo much more attention.
It's not so much the story itself that is the draw (although it's a fantastic plot), it's the execution that sets this book apart.
This story is so subtle with its ever-growing sinister tension. It's more uncomfortable and nail biting than any thriller I've read in years.
The use of quotation marks. I know, I know that sounds weird if you've not read the book but believe me when I say it's genius.
Short chapters. I mean reallyyyy short chapters keep the story propulsing forward at a breakneck speed. This is a one sitting read no matter how slow of a reader picks it up. There's simply no putting this book down.
Nothing is as it seems and just when you think you've got your head securely wrapped around it all, your head falls off and rolls out the front door.
Absolutely a re-read type of book just to catch and relish in the hints you missed the first time around.
The ending. Fuck fuck fuck the ending is SUBLIME!
Somebody needs to make this into a movie. No, I take that back. Christopher Nolan needs to make this into a movie. Somebody make that happen. Thanks.
Fucking brilliant. That's all I've got.
P.S. don't go running off and reading the reviews (except mine of course) because people suck.
Junior and Hen are a married couple who live on an isolated farm well away from the city lights, and that’s just the way they like it, until late one night when a stranger turns up and brings news that will turn both of their lives upside down.
The stranger (Terrance) claims to be working in collaboration with the government, and tells Junior that he’s been chosen to go on a long journey - a journey into space no less! He explains that it will eventually help mankind. In preparation for this journey, Terrance makes numerous visits to their home, carrying out tests on Junior and asking him deep and personal questions about every aspect of his life. However, Junior begins to resent Terrance, who seems to have taken over his life, and he suspects that something isn’t right and he’s not being told the whole truth.
My, this was a strange one and I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about it. It’s sci-fi that’s set in the near future, and is primarily about relationships, and in particular Junior and Hen’s relationship, and how this upcoming journey will affect the both of them, and although I enjoyed it to a certain degree, I figured the twist out pretty early on, so when it was finally revealed I wasn’t in the least bit surprised - and I do love a surprise! A decent enough read, but on some level I just didn’t connect.
* Thank you to Simon and Schuster for my arc. I have given an honest unbiased review in exchange*
"One has to be careful what one takes when one goes away forever." -Leonora Carrington, The Hearing Trumpet
I'm glad I sat on this one for a day before writing my review; the more I wrestled with the story, the easier it was to conclude that I did in fact enjoy it, which in turn caused me to raise my review from a 2 to a 3 star rating. It's exactly what it states on the back cover, "a taut, philosophical mind-bender", one that I personally believe was better than the author's previous novel I'm Thinking of Ending Things.
It's tough to discuss the plot, because there's not really a lot that happens. That sounds strange, I know, but you'll get what I mean once you read it for yourself. The downside to this sophomore novel from Reid is that, after devouring his first book, some readers will be disappointed in the difference of structure that Foe delivers. Instead of a dark and confusing "thinky" thriller, we are given a mainstream science fiction novel with most of the information provided up front, and the twist here isn't exactly comparable to his debut. In fact, the first "twist" is right there in the blurb on the back of the book, which in turn had me thinking about what the end game would be early on, and I was a little disappointed that I had figured out the remaining twist immediately.
With that said, I loved how timeless Reid's writing style is. His books truly have a feel similar to some of the greatest classic authors, and his words seem as if they could take place in any time period to any human being in any walk of life. The themes he chose to include here are relevant and thought provoking (as they should be in a philosophical mind-bender), and the science fiction aspect here is very enjoyable to even those readers who don't enjoy the hard core stuff. Most of the science aspects are basic and straightforward here, and no time is wasted on building up that part of the novel. If you enjoyed the author's previous novel, or even if you are a bit curious as to what the fuss is about with this one, Foe is a brief novel that packs a wallop of a punch. At only 260 pages, it's an easy time investment and one that will cause your brain to wander around a bit more than it may with the average fictional read.
this book had an interesting beginning and ending, but unfortunately all the story in between lacked the anticipation and suspense that was in I'm Thinking of Ending Things...or like, any other thriller.
Iain Reid writes intrigue better than anyone. With this book, he even uses punctuation as a source of suspense. Seriously. For those who read it, you know what I'm talking about. Every word, every detail, vibrates with mystery. To the point of being driven crazy trying to find out what happens next.
Reid's first novel, I'm Thinking of Ending Things, was so perfect I was honestly scared to read this one. Surely nothing could compare. Thankfully those worries were unnecessary. Both books are masterful.
I wish I could say more about the plot, but don't want to risk giving anything away. Just know that if you like tightly wound mysteries with a hint of sci-fi, you'll eat this up.
"That's what a relationship is for: mutual support and acceptance. No one understands me the way she does. And that means something. To me, it means everything."
WOWZA! I really enjoyed this haunting and thought-provoking book! Junior and Henrietta (Hen)live away from most people and they like it that away. It's quiet where they live away from the city sounds and lights. Then one day a man, Terrance, arrives and informs them that they have won a lottery of sorts and that Junior will be going away but don't worry, a replacement will be left in his place so that Hen doesn't have to be alone.
"We don’t get visitors. Not out here. We never have."
If I had to describe this book in one word that world would be UNIQUE! This is a quiet book and the tension and creepiness slowly seeps into the pages. As I read, I knew that something wasn't right, something was off, and wondered why isn't the couple asking more questions. I believe this book is going to get mixed reviews but for me, I loved the premise and loved how it examines marriage, loneliness, acceptance, science, etc. I also loved the Author's writing. It flowed effortlessly. One thing readers will have to get used to is Junior's dialogue. When he speaks, the Author does not use quotations. So, at times I wondered is he thinking or speaking out loud? But it soon becomes clear what is what.
This science fiction book is eerie, and I had a hard time putting it down. Readers are told that this book is set in the near future, but we are not told exactly how far in the future or where the book takes place. We know it takes place in a rural location but not where. I thought this was a nice touch. Readers are left to use their imagination about where and when this book takes place. For me this book took place in American's heartland and in an old farmhouse which we are told is surrounded by fields.
I found this book to be very enjoyable, well thought out and captivating. For those of you who are not sure about Science fiction or do not consider yourselves to be science fiction fan, I highly encourage you to give this book a try. It is quite enjoyable.
Thank you to Gallery, Threshold, Pocket books, Simon & Schuster and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own.
More of a journey, than a destination. By the end,As I think back, it all fits into the puzzle.
Two headlights, an official looking car, like governmental perhaps? An aerospace rep. telling the residents that OuterMore has chosen one of them. I kept thinking it was like one of those Publisher Clearing House reps going up to someone's door to announce they've won the lottery!
Okay, a nice hook in the beginning chapters. I was curious, the author had me. I knew early on that something wasn't quite "right". There are more plot happenings that will clue you in to the twist that comes.Things that happen seem nefarious and go on behind the scenes, which created lots of thoughts/questions.
Nothing is straightforward, but red flags are waving throughout. You are required to think a bit beyond the pages and I love that!
There is a lot of relationship yin and yang with an emphasis on marriage and how well you know your partner. The nonverbal, the habits, the expectations. I needed more! Characters felt too flat and uninspired (maybe they were).
A lot of tension and unease, but also boring day to day tasks (going nowhere) and predictability in the big twist! I wasn't surprised. I'm sure that affected my enjoyment. I guess this is considered Sci-Fi, but I didn't find it had anything new to offer, except maybe lots of pondering!
I will read another from the author. Really wanted to give this a four, but can't wholeheartedly recommend. Try it for yourself and see.
Junior and Henrietta live a quiet solitary life far from the city. One day a visitor, Terrance, mysteriously arrives. They never get visitors. He tells Junior that he has won the lottery and has been selected to live on a settlement in space. He is told that this is a good thing and a fantastic opportunity. But not to worry, they will be sure to take care of Henrietta while he is gone.
And that’s all I’m going to say. To say more would be to ruin the story. Right from the beginning I felt something was not right, something was off. The more I read, the more that feeling grew. The tension is palpable and I couldn’t stop listening.
Sci-fi is not my genre of choice but the sci-fi elements are subtle. It’s creepy in a Twilight Zone way, where everything kind of seems normal, but not. Tightly written, and at a mere 260 pages, this could easily be read in one or two sittings.
Highly recommended! For audiobook listeners, the narrator is excellent.
it is a truth universally acknowledged that i give all authors three chances to woo me. and whether that’s optimistic or foolish, i don’t know - this practice has redeemed some authors and nailed the coffin lid on others. but i am hereby making an ALL-NEW AMENDMENT to this policy: Iain Reid will get his third chance with me, but i will NOT be buying that third chance in hardcover. EVEN if that hardcover has a pretty face. someone hold me to this, because i am notoriously weak-willed when covers are pretty. remind me that i have read both of his books in a single day and seen their big fat twists coming from a mile away, and i haven’t been able to love him the way people seem to love him, and although this makes me feel sad and left out, i don’t need to be shelling out 28 bucks to feel sad and left out when i am fortunate enough to have access to one of the most robust library systems there is.
don’t get me wrong, i LOVE that someone is trying to be the novelist-version of m night shyamalan because when that rug-ripped-out-from-under-you thing works, there’s nothing more exhilarating. i love the sensation of mental flailing and the "but wait OHHHHHHHHH" that ripples across the brainparts. but when the rug is all
at me, it is somewhat less rewarding. i don’t like figuring things out before the author wants me to know them. and this book is pretty bad at keeping its secrets. it’s like a little kid playing hide-and-seek, unable to suppress their giggles behind the living room curtains.
maybe in some pop cultural deadzone unexposed to either or *, this would be more OMG-making, but i watch ALL THE TEEVEE and the first thing i thought when the ____ (noun) was ____ (verb - past tense) was “oh, so ███████████████. probably”
and here we are.
i don’t dislike Iain Reid - in fact, he has a terrific facility for writing tension and awkwardness and “offness,” which really came through here, and that farmhouse scene in I'm Thinking of Ending Things, even though i didn’t much love the rest of it, was very effective and so so creepy.
so, yeah, i will take him home again, but i’m not going to pay for the pleasure. unless, i mean how pretty a cover are we talking???
* this second touchpoint-reference is not reveal-spoilering, it is more What the Book is About, but the publisher-supplied synopsis is pretty detail-light, so i figured better safe than spoilery.
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Apparently, Foe is not on anyone's radar, I went to my Overdrive app and immediately found a copy to download. Aaaarrgghh- this book is so far superior to most of the crap out there!! I think everyone should read it and dissect it and marvel at the simple complexity of the story.
“Habitual, comfortable activity is the worst kind of prison, because the bars are concealed.” ― Iain Reid, Foe
It is the perfect novel for anyone's book club. Yes, I just said that. Trust me. Everyone will have a different opinion and you can discuss the ending alone for hours.
Foe is set in the near future, always my favorite time period for novels. The entire story takes place on an isolated farm smack dab in the middle of giant, genetically enhanced canola fields. Hen and Junior have been married just a few years when a stranger pulls into their driveway one night. He has exciting news for Junior. News that will alter his quiet life on the farm forever. He and Hen will never be the same. Or, will they?
That's all you need to know, the less you read about this short little book beforehand, the more surprising and memorable your experience will be! And it is an experience.
Iain Reid writes in a beautiful, spare prose that immediately connects to your inner reading goddess and you will not be able to look up from the page. I swear (and I never swear) I felt hypnotized as I swallowed up every sentence as fast as I could. I read it in a matter of hours. So lovely. Urgent. Thoughtful. Sinister.
A modern classic meant to be treasured and re-read over time. 🎬Oh, and for Felicia: not sure if Christopher Nolan will be involved or not, but the movie rights HAVE been snatched up by the same group that produced Spotlight and The Revenant.
I didn't check out the audio🎧book and so glad I didn't. FOE is really meant to be viewed with your eyes. There are hints in the actual writing structure throughout the story that will help you decipher the seemingly ambiguous ending.
Wow! This was an exciting step outside of my usual reading genre! 😱🤯
This novel is a combination of thriller, sci-fi and mystery/suspense. I usually steer very clear of anything remotely sci-fi-ish, however, I will be attending an Author Series event next week where this author, Iain Reid, will be speaking so I thought I’d give it a try. Boy, am I happy I did! This novel had me glued to the words from page one. There was an intense feeling of foreboding and unease that crept through my entire body every time I picked this book up. The suspense was thick and addictive. And that ending left my mind whirling!
This is one of those books that you just have to read to know what feeling I’m getting at. It sucks you in and keeps you hungry for more until you reach the mind-blowing ending. It’s a unique and unforgettable story told through a brilliant narrative. I highly recommend getting your hands on a copy!
As soon as I saw Iain Reid had a new book out, I knew I had to read it. This is the guy who brought us I'm Thinking of Ending Things, a mind-twisting psychological thriller that had me pretty effusive and proud of my fellow Canuck.
Even though this book is different, it has Iain Reid's style all over it. As in IToET, the reader is aware from the beginning that something is "off", but unsure exactly what that something is. Junior and his wife Hen live on a remote farm. One day Terrence arrives to tell Junior he's been selected to live in a space station for a few years. During this time, Hen will live with a "replacement" of sorts to ensure she isn't alone.
I have to say, I'm not typically a reader of science fiction. So, I got kinda cranky when I realised that's the direction this book was going. Space? Husband replacement? Blech. I also believed that I knew exactly what the big 'reveal' was going to be. I was all "oh brother" and "here we go" and other know-it-all-y things.
I was utterly delighted to be WRONG. Not only was the ending different than I had anticipated, but I found that the sci-fi part is truly secondary. Fancy window dressing. This book is about people and, more specifically, people within a marriage. And what it has to say is quite fascinating.
Thank you to Netgalley and Simon & Schuster Canada for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Fans of Iain Reid’s first novel I’m Thinking of Ending Things already want this book. They’re looking for more of what he delivered in his debut novel — that “unique, slightly off-kilter, unsettling prose that grabs you and pulls you into the story until it’s over” kind of thing. Rest assured, he’s done it again.
I don’t want to say that Iain Reid is ruining me for other books, but he is — there, I said it. I’ll try to explain what he does so well: Reid’s narrative is simultaneously sophisticated and casual. It lives in the space between challenging and accessible. I recently tweeted that reading this book felt like eating exotic foods where the foreign flavor explosions have me guessing at the ingredients; my mind in a constant state of exploration — new and exciting but also exactly what I want. How does a writer do this?
Thanks to Reid, I’m also a junkie for short chapters — I wish all books were formatted as such. The mystery of this story is presented immediately. Readers will start gathering questions from page one and then you will carry these with you for the rest of the book.
Junior and Henrietta live in a quaint farmhouse in isolation. A stranger shows up with perplexing news. The duration of the story is the unraveling of the characters as they are forced into some unexpected circumstances. The tension and that initial mystery buzz in your mind, slow and steady at first and then later, aggressively. There are a few recognizable moments where my running theory about the story was stripped away with just a sentence. I built new theories and those too were peeled back, revealing a different idea.
My favorite thing about Iain’s work in this story is also my favorite thing about his previous novel — these characters, their relationship and who they are as people is handcrafted with details so intimate, they feel eerily familiar. I found myself in these pages a few times in Hen’s thoughtlife or in Junior’s frustration. Some scenes I read to my husband because Reid was so mindful of a real couple — the way people are behind closed doors. I can’t help but wonder if Reid is leaving everything on these pages, the story feels so exposed, vulnerable and personal.
When the end finally comes, it’s like falling through the floor. The bottom just drops out and now I have a serious book hangover and a creeping need for another Iain Reid novel. This is a book I’ll read again while I wait for his next one.
I do not love books very often. Of the 1,249 books I have ever marked as finished, I have five-starred 89. This year, which has been in both quantity and quality likely the best reading year of my young life, I've given a perfect rating to 15 books. Out of the 287 I've read to date.
I don't even want to calculate those percentages, for fear of perishing from sheer sadness.
Anyway. All of that means that when I do read a book that is five star level great, I am forced to Act Up. I binge read that genre. I search for books like it (in tools other than Goodreads' garbage recommendation function). But above all, I read everything else I can find by that author.
And, as you can see in this case, it rarely works.
When reading I'm Thinking of Ending Things, I had no clue what was going on. In the fun way. The writing was awesome, I was fascinated by the characters, I couldn't put it down.
This book, instead, was immediately predictable. I cannot emphasize enough how quickly what's going on becomes clear, even as you're forced to wait a million jillion pages for the characters to catch up. (This is the kind of short book that magically feels light years long.)
Where I expected craziness and coolness and one of a kind read-ness, I got predictable and blah and boohoo.
A bummer for the ages.
Bottom line: Don't mind me, I'm mourning the loss of the feeling I had when finally reading a perfect book. It seems it will NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN.
you know when you pick up a random book and out of nowhere it's a five-star read?
when that miracle happens for me (approx. once every 5 years) i literally can't do anything except try to recreate it by reading everything that author has ever written
update: you learn something new every day. today i learned that lightning doesn't strike twice
'That's what time does. It ushers a return to equilibrium.'
There is something about Iain Reid's writing that immediately syncs up with me. No, I did not like "Foe" as well as his first novel, but this does nothing to taint my taste for his writing. Altogether different subject matter, with this one it was a feeling of unease rather than dread. I had an inkling, something seems to be "off" here, but I did not glom onto the entirety of it.
Maybe I'm overly suspicious and paranoid, but if a stranger turns up at my place, saying he works for the government and wants to:
1. Move into my home in order to study me, 2. Take numerous photographs of all parts of my body, 3. Ask intrusive and never-ending questions and records my responses, 4. Attach some sort of heat-emitting electrode to the back of my neck, 5. Use a syringe to squirt something into the webbing between by fingers, 6. Give me pills to swallow numerous times a day,
...or any other number of invasive or semi-invasive things, I'm gonna insist on some ID for one, and two, I'm gonna demand authentic papers explaining everything, proving this person is who he and his ID says he is, and ascertaining that he is supposed to do what he says he's to do and why. That's before I'll start listening, let alone complying.
I guess not everyone shares my level of cynicism because Junior, the MC for this novel, was much more believing and submissive than I'd have been.
At first, this frustrated me. It's like when you're watching a movie and the dumb-ass actor hears a bump in the night and stupidly goes off to investigate without bothering to pick up a baseball bat or skillet or even a fricking candlestick. Everyone watching knows something bad is gonna happen but that idiot is oblivious and just prances out into the dark, practically begging the monster or alien or robber or whatever to get him.
You know how frustrating it is to watch and that's how frustrated I was with Junior and his wife in the beginning of this book. I wanted to scream so loud that my screams penetrated the Kindle and this fictional character would hear my warnings.
Here's why: Junior and Hen are quiet, simple folks who enjoy the serenity and solitude of life on their farm. One day a car pulls into the drive and this besuited, pony-tailed dude named Terrance knocks on the door. He says he works for the government and Junior has won a lottery that puts him in the running to live for a time on a spaceship. It doesn't matter that Junior never felt the allure of travelling to space and would much rather remain at home with his wife. The government talks and Junior has to listen.
Now, you might be thinking about Hen and how lonely she's going to be with her husband so far away.
Not to worry! The government agency has already thought of this and Terrance is going to create a replica of Junior to keep Hen company during his foray above the earth. In order to do so, he needs to move in and he needs to study them both intensely in order to construct a believable facsimile.
That's all you need to know about the plot. And I'm not necessarily saying that something bad happens to Junior as a result of his gullibility lack of mistrust; I'm just telling you I was filled with dread and suspicion on his behalf.
The Goodreads description for this book begins with the words, A taut, psychological mind-bender ". I think that sums it up very well.
This is a quiet and introspective novel most of the time so action lovers probably would do well to give it a pass. However, if you enjoy quiet books, Foe is well worth reading.
It asks us to question who we are and whether there is anything unique in each of us that cannot be replicated. Are humans really so special or can everything about us be re-created, cloned, by the appropriate technology?
It also explores the nature of relationships, who we are to each other and how much of what we think a loved one is, is simply who we want them to be.
Even though this was a slow burn, it was hard to put down. It's a suspenseful story that leads you along.... to places you might or might not wish to go.
If you’re an audiobook fan and you like a little sci-fi mixed with your domestic suspense, then Foe by Iain Reid needs to be added to your listening list. ASAP.
Junior and Henrietta live a quiet life on their farm. Until a stranger arrives one day, informing Junior that he’s been selected to travel to a faraway place. Henrietta will be left behind to tend the farm, unfortunately, but she's in luck because she’ll not be left alone. Not even for a second.
(Dun dun DUN!)
Are you curious now? I thought so.
Foe is one of those books that just lends itself to the audio experience. It’s cleanly written with a linear plotline, and the story is compulsively listenable and so very entertaining in its strangeness. Plus, Jacques Roy is the narrator, and he’s fantastic. The clever tone of his performance adds an extra layer of unease to the story.
And within the narrative itself, Reid does a great job of examining the timeless question of: How well do you know your spouse? He has a sharp eye for the complexities of marriage, and he breaks down the nature of spousal relationships with a shrewd perception, showing how the definition of happiness often differs for each partner.
This was another great audiobook recommendation from my Goodreads friend, Terrie Robinson. If you don’t already follow her reviews, you should. She knows her stuff.
Thank you, Terrie. Had it not been for you, I would’ve missed out on a terrific listen.
"Foe" by Iain Reid is an Intensely Foreboding and Thought-Provoking Story!
Junior and Henrietta, married for two years, live a quiet life on a farm surrounded by huge canola fields out in the middle of nowhere. It's just the two of them and they like it like that.
One day a strange car pulls into their driveway with glowing green head lights on, shining into their windows. They never get any visitors. Not all the way out there. Until today...
Oh my, this is right up my alley! It's the kind of 'Near Future' Sci-Fi-ish story that keeps me guessing, causes my antennae to raise as I hold my breath, and anxiously wait for the ball to drop. Actually, I felt more than a little uncomfortable.
This quick six-hour audiobook is narrated by Jacques Roy, who does an excellent job as the first-person voice of Junior. His voicing sounds both frantic and manic adding to the creepy 'Twilight Zone' feel of the story. I think I had a smile on my face the entire time I listened, it was so perfect.
The writing is evocative and cleverly dives into the depths of traditional marriage and relationships while being, at once, intensely foreboding and thought provoking. And the ending? Flawless.
5 Thought-Provoking Stars and I highly recommend!
I love discovering a "new-to-me" author and I'm looking forward to reading more from Iain Reid. I loved this one so much I've placed a Libby hold on his debut novel "I'm Thinking of Ending Things" and his new novel "We Spread". I can't wait to listen to both of them.
Sometime in the near future, somewhere within the United States, Junior and Henrietta (Hen) are making a life for themselves in an isolated farmhouse surrounded by fields. Essentially the middle of nowhere. One evening a car travels down their driveway, it's lights are an eerie green, and it immediately grabs Juniors attention. They are not expecting any one. They never have visitors.
They hear the knock on the door. Once opened their lives will never be the same again.
The man, Terrance, explains that Junior has been chosen by a random lottery to help build a settlement in outer space. While away they have assured he and Hen that she will not be alone. They have figured out a way to make sure she is taken care of.
*Zips lips* That's absolutely all I will say. I hope that it isn't too much.
Iain Reid seems to be hit or miss with many readers but I can safely say that he is a HIT with me. I just really dig his writing style. His books have a subtle dread to them. You know something isn't quite right but you can't really put your finger on it.
Personally, I loved the ending to this one. A lot of people said they figured out the twist early on and now in hindsight I can see why but man he had me fooled and I'm so happy he did! I can not wait to see what this author comes up with next.
I loved the author's debut novel, I'm Thinking of Ending Things, but this second book felt off. It just wasn't as engaging to me. Perhaps I'm being too hard on the writer, but everything about his first novel was so good, the couple driving in a car in the winter to meet his parents for the first time. The awfulness of the farm in winter, the dead animals, the odd parents and the feeling of unease was so powerful, you really felt afraid.
This book was a bit off-putting because the narrator's voice was so dull and mechanical. I couldn't understand why the couple was being so blase about such a drastic change in their life. I felt the setting was also so vague as to be a nonentity in the story, although that vastness and loneliness helped me to understand Hen's point of view.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
My first experience with Iain Reid kind of resembled my husband being sent to buy tampons . . . .
I didn’t get it. Luckily I post my opinion on the internet, so I was able to see what a complete fucking idiot I am courtesy of some other reviewers. What can I say? I am an idiot. Or I was – because this time around?????
I knew what was going on the entire time it was going on. Annnnnnnnnnd I even knew the extra summin’ summin’ was coming at the end. I still have questions about why though. I’m more than happy to discuss under spoilsies in the comments, but I know y’all is a bunch of lookie-loos who will click the tag if I put it here and the whole thing that makes this work is the “getting there is all the fun” kind of aspect. Be warned that this is NOT horror, however. As another reviewer said, it’s more like an episode of The Twilight Zone.
Junior and Hen have lived in the boonies since they got married. She works at an office – he works at the local grain factory. They are simple folk who lead a simple life . . . until a representative from OuterMore turns down their drive and makes Junior an offer he can’t refuse – to potentially be part of the first resettlement on Mars.
I believe Iain Reid has an education in philosophy and it shows here in a story about mind vs. matter and questions of consciousness. Don’t let that scare you away because his writing style is easy to read. My pea brain also found amusement in the fact that he chose OuterMore to be founded by someone who first became known for creating self-driving automobiles . . . .
Who was described as sort of resembling this blonde fella . . . .
^^^In case you aren’t familiar, my buddy Eric will tell you that’s Julliard Massage – the founder of Ricki Lakes ; )
Foe is a prime example of why I try not to be one-and-done when it comes to authors unless they engage in some serious asshattery. Reid’s first hit was a giant miss for me, but this one gets 4 Stars. Go figure.
Audiobook….read by Jacques Ray …..5 hours and 31 minutes
My goodness …. I’m a new fan!!!
Iain Reid is an awesome-engaging storyteller!! Right after being in ‘awe’ over “We Spread”….. I dived into another Reid novel — It’s different—but there is again a quality of such brilliant human depth > I’m moved > and ‘again’ left with interesting thoughts. The psychological suspenseful atmospheric and themes of loneliness, frustration, worry, regret, fear, hope, love….were also in “We Spread” (a topic’ closer to me) than “Foe”…. yet I enjoyed this story too!!!
I went into this book completely blind. I couldn’t remember any content from any review….. And now having enjoyed ‘two-for-two’ Reid books — I’m going to go into his other book, “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” on blind faith too.
Iain Reid is rocking my audio/reading boat with blissful storytelling enthusiasm! Love his style!!!
I'm going to start out by saying that this book was promising. The synopsis was intriguing, and I was curious to see where it was going to go.
Here's what I liked: some parts of it were reminiscent of The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay - there are similar themes like isolation, intrusion, family, etc. If you enjoyed The Cabin at the End of the World, there's a chance you will enjoy Foe (I'm not promising that, though, because I did really like Cabin). I appreciated the short chapters, and at the times when I was interested, it was easy to stay involved in the story. I liked that it was a sci-fi mystery, and it sort of reminded me of the beginning of Interstellar.
Now for what I didn't like: first on the list is the fact that quotation marks were only given to certain characters. I don't like writing with gimmicks. I feel like something like this is only put in there so that the author can be seen as clever. It's not clever; it's a cheap ploy to get future literature teachers to notice you. It's annoying to have to re-read sections after realizing that a character had actually been speaking to someone else. Just tell me a story without playing games.
My next issue is predictability. I figured this book out entirely too early on, and it's because the author relied too heavily on foreshadowing. Everything was given away easily, and then the rest of the book is a very slow journey to get to the point where it's finally revealed that you were right all along. This would have worked better as a short story. Too much was revealed too early for a 250-ish page book.
This is a character study of incredibly flat characters. Nothing happened for so long. Part of me feels like this was written with a plan for a TV show in mind. It is Black Mirror-esque, but the depth that Black Mirror offers is missing from Foe. The characters in Foe are sacrificed for the sake of having a twisty plot.
I wish I had something better to say, but I just don't. This is my second try with an Iain Reid book, and it's also my last. I hope everyone else has a better time with this one than I did.
بعد از "تو این فکرم که تمومش کنم" این دومین کتاب ایان رید هست و از نظر تجربهی خوندن خیلی شبیه همون کتاب بود یه کتاب با روند آروم ولی پر از دیالوگها و اتفاقاتِ عجیب غریب که به نظر منطقی نمیان ولی همین باعث میشه حس کنجکاویتون خیلی تحریک شه و تند تند هر صفحه رو ورق بزنید و دلتون بخواد جواب بگیرید ولی خب، برعکس کتاب اولش که وحشت روانشناختی بود، این یکی علمیتخیلیه. با این حال اگه دوست ندارید، نیاز نیست نگران باشید. قسمتهای علمی داستان کاملاً توی پشت زمینهان و در این مورد اصلاً تخصصی نمیشه. کتاب مستقیم و بدون مقدمه آدمو وارد داستان میکنه. یه نفر به اسم ترنس از طرف شرکت اوترمور که شبیه اسپیس ایکسه میاد و به هنریتا و جونیور که توی یه مزرعه، جدا از همه زندگی میکنن، خبر میده که جونیور تو یه لاتاری برنده شده و جایزه سفر به فضا و اقامت توی ایستگاه فضایی شرکته و ما داستان این زن و شوهر و ترنس و اینکه جایزهی لاتاری چه تأثیری توی زندگیشون داره میخونیم. راوی داستان هم جونیوره
دلم میخواد یه هشدار بدم قبلاٌ گفته بودم که از داستانهایی که زیادی متکی به پیچش داستانیشون هستن چندان خوشم نمیاد و تو این کتاب هم با توجه به حالت رازآلود بودنش مشخصاً آدم منتظر یه رونمایی هست و باید بگم اون قسمت داستان خیلی قابل پیشبینی بود و بابت این اولش کمی توی ذوقم خورد ولی خوشحالم سعی خودمو کردم که تا آخر کتاب بهش فرصت بدم در نتیجه بعد از تموم شدن کتاب این حس بهم منتقل شد که اون تویست قابل پیشبینی عمدی بوده و نویسنده قصد داشته منِ خواننده جای اینکه فقط با همچین چیزهایی هیجان زده بشم و یه تجربهی سطحی داشته باشم و بقیهی کتابش رو فراموش کنم، به لایههای دیگهی داستان و جزئیاتش بیشتر دقت کنم که موفق هم شده به حدی که دیدم یه خواننده از جزئیات کتاب یه تئوری نوشته بود که کل داستان رو عوض میکرد و باید بگم تئوریش حسابی مخمو خارش داده و کلی سؤال بی جواب دارم که احتمالاً جواب قطعی براش پیدا نمیشه ولی خب سؤال داشتن خیلی بهتر از اینه که جواب رو مفت مفت تحویلت بدن و این قسمتیه که ایان رید نسبت به "تو این فکرم که تمومش کنم" بهتر شده بود
Foe is a dark, tense, disconcerting thriller that delves into the intricate and dynamic relationship between a husband and wife and has you quickly questioning how well do you really know someone.
The prose is edgy and tight. The characters are multilayered, inhibited, and anxious. And the plot is a skillfully paced, rapidly unraveling journey about life, love, marriage, loneliness, isolation, manipulation, dreams, desires, deception, futuristic endeavours, and the intense attraction of adventure.
Foe at its core is a twisty, darkly comedic, exceptionally clever tale that has an otherworldly, or should I say an OuterMore quality to it that will leave you contemplating whether humanity can truly be technologically replicated and whether predictive processing, perception and expectation, influences reality more than we consciously believe. It’s riveting, entertaining, and certainly worth a read or two.
Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Junior and Hen enjoy an easy, quiet life on their farm outside the city. This all changes when a man shows up on their doorstep to notify Junior that he has been randomly selected to travel a great distance from home without Hen. He needn’t worry though - Hen will be well taken care of by some.. familiar company. Making waves in 2016 with his psychological thriller I'm Thinking of Ending Things, Iain Reid returns with his sophomore fiction effort, Foe.
To be honest, Reid had completely flown under my radar despite the heaps of critical praise he’s been receiving. He only recently popped up with the announcement that Charlie Kaufman (the award winning writer of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind - a favorite of mine) would be adapting I’m Thinking of Ending Things for Netflix. Given my appreciation for Kaufman and the fact that Reid had a new book available for consumption on Netgalley, I thought I would check him out
This was a hell of a read. The narration comes in short, stinging bursts coupled with hasty dialogue to boot. While Reid doesn’t have the stylistic punchiness of James Ellroy, he carries the same urgency with his writing that lends itself to gobbling multiple chapters in scarce sittings.
The vagueness of the location (they live outside “the city”) as well as keeping the year unspecified adds another layer of disorientation on top of an already dizzying plot. I had my mind working overtime trying to figure out where Reid was taking all this. In fact, there were no fewer than three times where I assumed I had nailed it down only to be blindsided at the finish line.
It’s difficult to say too much without going into spoiler territory. The best advice I can muster up is to go into this as blind as possible. Foe is the kind of novel that probably benefits from the shock of it all; the need to get out there and find someone else who has read it just so you can discuss it endlessly over coffee.
Junior and Henrietta (Hen) live in the middle of nowhere...One day a man called Terrence arrives. He's from a company working with the government. He declares himself as the bringer of good news. Oh, annoying he seems, he speaks professionally. He knows the best.
Junior has been selected/long listed as a possible candidate to go to space to start installation of a new settlement. This will take a long time, if he actually gets selected. So he will need to leave Hen alone. But they've thought everything. They have a solution for Hen, so that she doesn't feel lonely.
Oh, god this was such a good read. Spot on to say it's for fans of Black Mirror, so true. Even the names of the characters are beautifully put, Hen(!) and Junior.
It's not an eventful book, but a psychological and philosophical story set between 3 characters, a touch of science fiction but not heavy on sci-fi side at all. Could easily be adapted to a theatre play. There are a few surprises in the end, which you can actually guess if you read really carefully.
I love it when a writer captures a situation in 250-ish pages, not using one unnecessary word. This is one of the short and powerful books.
I am happy to discover Iain Reid, will be reading more from him in the future.
Thanks for the publisher, and NetGalley for this copy in exchange for an honest review.
This was a weird little story. Even though it wasn't that little, at just over 250 pages, but it FELT short. There's so much backstory missing at first, and the reactions of each character to some news seems odd and unrealistic. All of this is later explained but until that explanation happened, the disconnect bothered me so much that I almost quit the book. I'm glad I didn't quit, but this still feels like a short story that was expanded to a novel length without giving it enough backbone to be a 'real' novel.