This book is an experiment.
We’re experimenting together.
You are part of the experiment, if you’ll agree to it.
Normally I don’t let my subjects choose to be subjects. If you know you’re being watched, you cease to be you.
But I want you to read this. I wrote it for you.
This magnetic book pulls you in its wake even as you resist its force. Sometimes you don’t want to know what’s next…
The main character in Consent practises people studies, follows them, listens to them, watches them, lingering on the edge of their lives, never interacting, never crossing the border of observation. He is studious in his passion for detail and self-conscious in his musings of what it means to be human. And with the wealth bestowed on him by a deceased relative, free to pursue this passion. The arrival of his latest subject, Frances, heralds a shift in the equilibrium of his life, a terrifying change onto a new course, where the line between madness and sanity begins to blur.
I really enjoyed this fantastic book and this main character really got into my head. Just imagine. He knows what your hopes are, what your fears are, he knows your secrets. He is privy to the facets of your heart, those that even you are unaware of, your routine, the traits of your personality, the pendulum of your emotions, he can read you like a book. There is no such thing as privacy, no such thing as the safety of your own home, not even the sanctuary of your own mind. He has no limits and nothing can stop him. Through the book, the reader is given pieces of his past to mull over, enabling us to build a better picture of his character. And what a character he is! He’s engaging but unnerving, creepy but intriguing. I was gripped from start to finish!
There are so many elements of this book that I want to praise but its difficult not to give too much away. Our narrator, whose identity remains anonymous throughout the book is, despite his despicable flaws, an engaging, fascinating character, constantly questioning himself, afflicted with concerns for his actions and state of mind. As he gathers information on his subjects to ponder at his leisure, the reader is drawn into the intricacies of his mind, the folds of his thoughts and feelings. He’s a puzzling character, unlike any I have come across before but he is absolutely fascinating.
Leo Benedictus’ prose commands the attention of the reader, grasping them from the very first page and guiding them on a disturbing, original journey into the mind of not only a stalker but a man who will both bewitch you and terrify you. I’ve read quite a lot of books with stalkers recently but Consent is definitely one of the ones that will stick in my mind.
Compelling. Unnerving. Original.
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Huge thanks to Libby Marshall for my review copy!