Thursday, 6 April 2017

How to be Human by Paula Cocozza

Book Review

How to be Human by Paula Cocozza - Reading, Writing, Booking

"His wildness was a gift. She wanted never to forget the immense favour he did them, the kindness of reminding them that no matter how lonely the city became, you could open a window or a door or even just an eye and find a mass of life that listened back."

How to Be Human is released in the UK today (April 6th). It is written by Paula Cocozza and published by Hutchinson.

I don't think I'm the only book blogger finding it difficult to review How to be Human; I've had a scout around Goodreads and a lot  of reviewers mention struggling to write up their feelings about the book. It may be because How to be Human is not like anything I've ever read before. It has similar themes to several books I've read; isolation, obsession and depression, but Paula Cocozza handles it in a totally unique way.
Honestly, I'm still not sure if I enjoyed the book or not, it's been a few weeks and I still don't know how I feel.
None of this is very helpful to you, is it? I'll crack on with the blurb.

You’ve seen a fox.
Come face to face in an unexpected place, or at an unexpected moment.
And he has looked at you, as you have looked at him. As if he has something to tell you, or you have something to tell him.
But what if it didn’t stop there?
When Mary arrives home from work one day to find a magnificent fox on her lawn - his ears spiked in attention and every hair bristling with his power to surprise - it is only the beginning. He brings gifts (at least, Mary imagines they are gifts), and gradually makes himself at home.
And as he listens to Mary, Mary listens back.
She begins to hear herself for the first time in years. Her bullish ex-boyfriend, still lurking on the fringes of her life, would be appalled. So would the neighbours with a new baby. They only like wildlife that fits with the decor. But inside Mary a wildness is growing that will not be tamed.
In this extraordinary debut, the lines between sanity and safety, obsession and delusion blur, in a thrilling exploration of what makes us human.

The premise of How to be Human is very simple; a lonely woman befriends a wild fox, but it leads into a complicated look at one woman's mental state and also the way society interacts with each other and the wildlife that is at its doors.

Sometimes it gets a little too complicated and the story gets swamped in its own wonderings and musings. It was a bit of a dredge to read at points.

However, the idea is a good one, and it highlights the wildness that lies dormant in everyone.

In a way, How to be Human is a character study of one woman and how she is coping with loneliness and stress, and also how she becomes deluded; believing herself and the fox to be in a relationship. Cocozza does this quite well and, though there are a lot of mysteries around Mary, she is believable and explored well.

I also liked that Cocozza provided the fox's thoughts as well as Mary's. They're written in a jumpy way, using made up words and focusing on smells, domains and food. It broke up the focus on Mary as well, which could become quite heavy at times.

"The air poked damp and saline. Come fresh to stalk around the human Female with sly feet and rippety eyes. Spruckling toadsome."

There are lots of good things about the book but it mainly made me uncomfortable, which  is presumably what the author is trying to do. I always had the feeling that something very bad was going to happen. It's seeped with paranoia and loneliness, like Mary's mind, but it didn't always make me want to keep reading.

I was also a bit frustrated that several aspects of the plot were left unanswered; is the boyfriend a stalker? How does the baby end up on the step? There are more that I can't mention but can't because of spoilers. Mystery is good in most cases but in some parts of the book it felt like the author was going out of her way to be mysterious for the sake of it.

How to be Human is unique and interesting, but it didn't grip me.

Oh, and I know it shouldn't matter but I really like the cover. I think that's what drew my attention to the book in the first place.

My Rating: 3/5

I received a digital copy of How to be Human via NetGalley in return for an honest review. My thanks to the publisher and author.

Follow Me On Bloglovin'

No comments:

Post a Comment