“The Girl and the Rat” by Jari Jarvela

The Girl and the Rat

(Author: Jari Jarvela) + (Year: 2016) + (Goodreads)

(Around the World: Finland)


Review:

Great start, bad ending. In short.

I found the book on NetGalley and it sounded ludicrous enough to catch my attention: Metro, an black woman from Finland, who saves the world through graffiti. The book itself has three parts, the first two were pretty good and interesting and then I’m not entirely sure the author knew where to take the story, so the third part basically sucked.

I want to note that this is the second book of a series, but I learned that more than halfway through the book and I’m convinced Jarvela did good because I did not feel like I was missing something. The references to the previous book were clear and explained all on their own. That was a definite plus but one that added to my opinion about the book later, as I didn’t know it from the start.

Now on The Girl and the Rat itself, funny story, right when I started reading it, I was on a bus which passed by Vienna and that really helped me soak into the atmosphere, since the novel is set in Berlin. I think I could envision everything and vicariously live through it in a much more intense way than if I was sitting in my bed at home.

The book shows us a very dark, neo noir setting, reminiscent of that of China Mieville’s The City and the City. On the atmosphere itself – it was very disturbing. Abandoned buildings, junkies, underground graffiti movements. The characters were a personification of that, they themselves were outcasts, unable to fit in their worlds, and damaged by it: Metro, who was assaulted because of her race, Vorkuta, a homosexual man from Russia, Alyosha, a survivor from the Chernobyl disaster, Verboten, a man with ruined face, that doesn’t fit in today’s standards for looks.

The first two parts of the book were full of mystery and tension and action, on a background of a dark and gloomy city which is the playground of the above-mentioned outcasts.  The third part was very rushed, not very likely, sloppy, confusing and not engaging enough. I am almost convinced to read the first one just to compare the style.

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