Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Nathan Filer: The Shock of the Fall | Book Review

The Shock of the Fall is a novel written by Nathan Filer in first person about the narrator named Matthew’s experiences of battling through a traumatic event whilst a child and what his life had become, taking us right through to where he is now, nineteen years old, and ‘fucking mental’. This novel explores deeply into Mental Illness the daunting, sharp and shocking reality of living with one. It leaves the readers showing great empathy towards Matthew and leaving them feeling touched. It focuses on the separation and reunion of two brothers but a different type of reunion, the type that is typically “all in your head”.

Mathew talks much about “my illness and I” by firstly describing it as “a disease with the shape and sound of a snake.” Throughout the novel we become very fond of Matthew’s mental illness, giving us a better insight to what is really happening inside of his mind, showing us that the past really can hurt, leaving stories and scars that we would never be able to forget.

Nathan Filer has carefully drafted this novel, using a range of different resources including drawings, written text through the main characters computer and typewriter, typography and hand written letters, giving it a positive effect, bringing more meaning to the words being spoken showing that the writer clearly wrote this story to ensure that the audience can experiences a range of different emotions.

After reading the blurb of this book, I couldn’t wait to start reading. We are introduced to Matthew’s brother, Simon by just reading the blurb but to my shock within the next sentence we find out that “in a couple of pages he’ll be dead. And he was never the same after that” which gripped me in and made me eager to start reading the book in order to find out about his brother, how did his brother die? Why is it important that we know this information before even reading the book? Nathan Filer goes from telling the audience that “I think you’re going to like him. I really do” suggesting that Simon may be a hero within the novel and that Matthew really looks up to him and gives a positive impression however, he then suddenly turns the complete feeling of what may happen within the novel by writing the next sentence using blunt and bitter language. This allows the audience to feel intrigued into why the language within this one paragraph has already given a mixture of feelings towards the audience, maybe even leaving them puzzled.

Early on in the novel, we become aware of the place and time in Matthew’s life that Simon died, we also learn that Simon also has a disorder, but a much different disorder to Matthew. As the novel goes on, we read about the life of Matthew through the writer using both the present day, and flashbacks of the past, giving us hints into how Simon died and how Matthew who was only a child at the time, learnt to cope with it as he grew up, became familiar to his local Mental Health team and experienced a handful of hospital admissions under section of the Mental Health Act which was caused by the death of his sibling who he admired and had an indescribable love for. Whilst reading this book, not only did Nathan Filer describe flashbacks of when Simon was alive, but he also showed Simon as somebody who felt alive, as Matthew could hear his voice inside of his head at the present day, as if they were really talking and Simon was partly still there. Page by page, we get to know Matthew’s close relatives, small details about them, dropping hints of the pain that they are also in following their loss. It isn’t until nearly the end of the novel that we discover what really happened to Simon and how he died, how Matthew blames himself and how his schizophrenia currently controls his life by him hearing Simon’s voice talking to him and seeing Simon or signs of him within the most odd and unusual things, making him unable to live a normal life. At the end of this novel, we learn that Simon’s voice within Matthew’s head must have been a big part his life so far as though it is normality for him considering that he openly tells the readers that “I get used to having Simon around. It takes time to adjust, and time to adjust when he’s gone.” This also shows that with higher doses of medication to drown his hallucinations out, Matt is losing his brother all over again. The author uses complex sentences throughout the novel, managing to set and change the mood of the novel, bringing both humour and darkness into the same story.

Nathan Filer; the author of this eye-opening and beautifully written novel is a registered mental health nurse suggesting that this may be where he got his inspiration for his novel from. This was his first novel and won the “Costa Book of the Year” award. It is an incredible piece of work, making it hard to believe that this was his first published novel.

In conclusion, after finishing this novel I felt speechless at how much of a gripping and incredibly well written story, clearly expressing how Matt was feeling and his attitude and thoughts about different things that were to happen in his life, really pulling the readers in. I was intrigued to know more about what it is like for Matt to live with a mental illness and this book definitely gave a teeth gripping and dreadful impression of what it would be like allowing us to really empathise for Matt. We learn what his life consists of, what sort of thoughts consume his mind and how hopeless, alone and torturous his life must feel. It is one of the best books I have read, not only with how well it was written, but with the story itself and the element of suspense that was running the whole way through, making every paragraph more interesting than the last and I am sad to have come to the end of the novel.

If you are interested in this novel, then the best place to purchase would be at Amazon UK.


Thank-you for reading, Tay x

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