06 July 2010

Book of the Week (68): "Wasted" by Nicola Morgan

Jack’s desire to feel some sense of control leads him to devise a game, a game that becomes dangerous. He can choose whether or not to play the game but the decision to play means following the rules and obeying the toss of a coin, wherever it leads him. He thinks sacrificing himself to luck this way will keep him lucky, but will it?

Nicola Morgan has written an original multi-layered book exploring concepts entrenched in philosophy and quantum theory through a captivating narrative of ‘what ifs?'. To what extent is life governed by chance or luck, and what control do we really have over what happens to us and around us? Is there anything we could do differently to change what might happen?

Gorgeous wild-haired Jack happens to overhear the beautiful Jess singing just when he’s desperate for a new singer in his band and an instant attraction draws them together. Yet ‘The moment when Jack hears Jess sing so nearly doesn’t happen’, just as many things nearly happen or nearly don’t happen. Morgan’s omniscient narrative style means the reader gets to see them all, we see alternative events unfold and disappear and all the little details that lead to these events as they did or could have happened. This style adds to the sense of being pulled into Jack’s game, feeling its appeal, sensing its danger as the idea of ‘what if?’ seeps into your mind. You can’t help but start experiencing the instability of life, the uncertainty of what could happen, and with it the need to believe you have some control. But Morgan does well to bring in just enough commentary to stop you slipping into the abyss. You can’t live with awareness of all the possibilities of what might be if only… You would go mad.

Through exploring this theme of chance and luck, Morgan interweaves a story of love, of loss, of choices and addiction. The characters are true characters relatable and believable that breathe life into a philosophical idea making it accessible and mind-blowing. The book is interactive both in its ability to make you think and its request that you participate and play Jack’s game to determine the ending.

The more I reflect on this book the more I realise how clever it is - it’s definitely one to read. If you’re not convinced, maybe you should toss a coin and leave it up to chance…

Recommended by Tessa Brechin

  • You may want to explore Nicola Morgan’s blog on Wasted, or her website, has details of her other novels such as Deathwatch and Fleshmarket.
  • Or you could try Being by Kevin Brooks, which also looks at questions of free will and determinism.

1 comment:

catdownunder said...

Oh defurrnitely an excellent book - but you failed to mention my excellent feline friend Spike who plays a major role in the story!