Sometimes a good book is hard to read. Sometimes a hard book is good to read. Sometimes, a book is as good as it is bad. The Illumination was mostly the latter.
‘The Illumination’ is a phenomenon that suddenly occurs across the world, where physical aches and pains light up for all to see, and suffering becomes visible. The book follows 6 protagonists in a story hand-off that is spectacularly evenly divided and yet totally unsatisfying. Initially, we find ourselves in the company of a data analyst whose bitter ex-husband sends her a difficult package, opening which she slices her finger. While in hospital, a woman who has been in a car crash gives her a journal filled with love notes from her husband, who is presumed dead. The journal becomes the thread that runs through the book as it finds its way into the hands of each protagonist. But it’s all been constructed by an amateur seamstress, and the result is pretty dodgy.
The idea behind all of this is that there is beauty in pain, but as the lives of these characters interweave in subtle ways, it never feels fully satisfying. Passages are filled with endless beautiful prose, but it’s essentially the same scene sewn together in slightly different permutations over and over. The result is a novel that feels like the same short story narrated by six different characters read in quick succession.
If it made any sense, I’d recommend reading the first two-and-a-half chapters of this book. Instead, I’m going to have to say that The Illumination simply isn’t fully-formed, and definitely won’t blow your mind.
Next book (although I said the same thing last time): One Day by David Nicholls
What have you read lately? Give me your recommendations!