Tag Archive: català


Image

I read this book in the finals days of July I think and I must admit I have been wanting to write a review about it for quite some time. It is not a book one can read and just put away. This book gets you hooked. But at the same time, the book really defies being typecast, it is hard to place your finger on what it is. It is a very unusual book, quite different to anything I have read in quite a while. I picked it up again and again and really immersed myself in its otherwordly charme and recently re-read it.

First of all, it really contains ingredients for a pretty rough ride, and that’s what the story really is, at least for its protagonist, well, I would say for the reader as well. But that’s a good thing. It is a fast paced story, full of twists and turns, and it does not let you breathe properly until you know what the end is like. No spoiler alert here. To me, this is a mixture of genres, a horror story, set in present day, containing social criticism clad in the institutionalisation of “difficult teenagers” as well as a classical drama. On the surface, we are introduced into these summer camps, which are basically the cheap way out for rich parents not able or not interested in facing up to their own educational failures.  Here are a handful of teenagers locked up in the outward idyllic of a secluded college for socalled juvenile delinquents. But that is just the surface and the setting.

The author is particularly strong with dialogues. They are pretty short but very poignant. When you read passages like in the beginning the discussions between father and son, you get the idea that inspite of being set in an affluent family, this youngster Vicent has not so much he could laugh about. Of course, he is rebellious and you (as a reader) wish for this dialogue to continue in spite of the youngster being sent away. There is an undercurrent of father-son relationship gone really bad, there is a huge conflict going on there. That to me was a shame that this dramatic potential was kind of wasted. All the reader was left with is a sort of background information. But nevertheless, since the speed keeps you on the edge of your seat, this is not a major set back at all. The book is just really well written and you kind of wonder why the authors would not dig a little deeper here to make the character a little more emphatic and a little more three dimensional.

The central conflict of the book is the fight between the owner of this institution and Vincent’s daily trials he has too undergo which get more cruel, wicked and grim as the story progresses. Little by little the reader gets to understand that an escape may be the only possible solution left for him. There is a deep sense of enclosure in this book which I found amazing. Trapped in the woods with some ego tripping headmaster? But what can you do when even the inmates start to disappear and you hear howling sounds and inexplicable noises and see weird things that make you guess you must have dreamt.

Ullals (Fangs) is a book that teases the reader into believing it is very easygoing, it starts pretty offhand, almost lightly, it welcomes you, it offers you a chair, but then as the chapters progress, you feel that the climate gets rougher and rougher. This is a very clever thing I never saw before in a book. The way the book is written also reflects the situation of the protagonist at the same time. The story quite literally straps you onto the chair while you try to stand up and search the exit door. But hey, it does not exist. You are trapped as well. The reader gets to peak into a scenario that has pretty dark shades and sometimes Kafkaesque touches. It gives you access to a world unknown to most of us. The sheer physical violence of some scenes lets your adrenaline rush. A very clever thing is that the reader feels quite involved through the immediacy of the dialogues and that there is not so much in between left that could clear up or free you from the menace of the damocles sword, which is not only inside the instition personified through the headmaster but also outside, in the woods, through something else, something more ferocious even.

There is this trait in the book where you feel quite uncomfortable that you are witnessing something that really could have been avoided.

Even at the end when you think you already know the end, the author manages to insert an unexpected turn and you are left with eyes wide open, your pulse racing and possibly a hand clapped over your mouth.

The book won a Youth book prize in 2010. Absolutely deserved, I think. Ullals moves you. And it does a lot more than that. An intelligent, fast and furious book, a tour de force, lots of cinematic images, very well written. If you haven’t read it so far, go and buy it. It is a modern classic.

 As far as I know, the book Ullals is being turned into a movie and is currently in pre-production.

Advertisements

A male - female thing - what was it again?

Let’s be clear about it: I know the situation, and I bet you do as well… 😉

%d bloggers like this: