Friday, 6 November 2015

'Trigger Warning' by Neil Gaiman

*This review will contain spoilers!* 

'Trigger Warning' is a collection of short stories (24 in total, if you include the poetry), but I'm not going to review each tale individually as I do normally with short story collections. There are just far too many and I don't have that much time - this is just going to be an overall review of the entire book.
I'd never read any of Neil Gaiman's writing before (because I'm the worst person in the history of people!) but I finally decided to grab this one based off of the recommendation of a friend, and I definitely do not regret it.
The thing about these short stories is that you need an open mind for the weird, the wacky and the unexpected. In most of the stories I could not see what was coming or work out what to expect, and I found myself pleasantly surprised and intrigued by every twist and turn that Neil wove with his prose and his mystical characters. It was a bit jarring for the first few stories, because there were bizarre occurrences at every twist and turn and they weren't always explained, but once you get your head around the fact that literally anything is going to happen... Well, it makes for an extremely fun ride.
Some of the short stories are longer (with 'The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains...' having been published as a standalone, and 'The Sleeper and the Spindle' getting the same treatment) and some of the short stories are a matter of pages long, so there really is something here for everyone.
And I do mean everyone. There are stories based off of Sherlock and Doctor Who, there are stories that are contemporary and stories that are based in the past, and there are fairy-tale retellings and high fantasy time-travelling tales.
My favourite stories in the collection are torn between 'The Thing About Cassandra' (in which Stuart's imaginary girlfriend turns out to be real), 'Orange' (which is written completely in answers to questions we don't see), or 'And Weep, Like Alexander' (where an uninventor shares the tales of all of the things he's uninvented, then gets an idea about smart phones...). I loved the former and the latter because of their plots: so simple and yet so effective, I'm sure most people have contemplated on the ability to make imaginary people exist or to make things un-exist, so it's nothing revolutionary but it's written in a beautifully stripped back way that makes it seem so ordinary.
'Orange' was the standout moment of the entire book for me, and was definitely the moment when I understood exactly what genius Neil Gaiman exhibits. To write answers to questions without the questions themselves, and for the story to still get told completely and feel so dimensional and finished - it's a huge skill. As you can imagine, the questions aren't parroted back throughout the answers, but because you can use the context and the little that has already been developed it's easy to get swept up in the story and visualise it effusively.
In all honesty, there were none of the stories in this collection that I didn't like. I didn't click with one or two of them (struggling with 'A Lunar Labyrinth' - potentially because it was the start of the book and was quite full on - and 'Adventure Story', which just seemed too disjointed to flow smoothly) but I loved the rest of the stories and would already love to read them again. Most of them made me think and made me consider things I hadn't considered before - exemplified perfectly in 'The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury', in which the narrator ponders on whether each person needs to remember specific things, and if they forget the things then get wiped from existence - and that's always the sign of a brilliant writer.
Even the poetry is crafted so brilliantly. Sometimes, authors that attempt poetry just leads to something cringe-worthy and very uncomfortable, but that is not the case here. Neil Gaiman has a skill with crafting the written word, and it really does work with multiple genres.
If you're not sure what you want to read, but you know you want to read something: choose this. If you haven't read Neil Gaiman before - do it! You will not regret it, because I certainly didn't. I'm already wondering which of his books I'll be able to get around to next, so keep an eye out for future reviews of his short story collections and his novels.
Now what are you waiting for? Go and read this!

1 comment:

  1. Omg, I definitely need this!! I LOVE NEIL GAIMAN! I totally agree he's an utter genius...I've mostly just read his YA and MG books, but ahhh the Graveyard Book was just something else and GOOD OMENS. WOW. So I really want to just read all his books of ever someday. ;)
    Thanks for stopping by @ Paper Fury!