Foe by Iain Reid

Foe comes across as an instant departure from Iain Reid’s debut novel, I’m Thinking of Ending Things. The idea of venturing out into space is a far cry from the call of death. But perhaps they’re not as unrelated as you would think. 

Clues start to emerge that Junior isn’t necessarily who I thought he was from the beginning. His life seems unimportant in comparison to how he feels about Henrietta. The general tone of this book reminds me of an episode of ‘Black Mirror.’ There is something deeply unsettling about it. What does Hen know that Junior does not? Is Junior real? Is this another series that distorts reality? What is fiction and what is tangible? How does anyone know the difference?

However, the foundation of Foe is more philosophical than plot based. For a sci-fi story with plenty of dystopic elements, nothing really happened. Time passed slowly. Thankfully, the slowness felt intentional instead of boring. The basis of the book was more grounded in the impossible scientific feats and the development of Junior and Henrietta’s relationship than anything else. Even the plot twists were too predictable, especially considering they were given away in the back of the book. 

To be honest, it took me a couple of reads in order to formulate a cohesive train of thought about this book. Did I even like it? While it didn’t blow me away like I’m Thinking of Ending Things, Foe was still a powerful book. The dialogue was great, the storyline was interesting enough, and I really wanted the best for each and every character. I liked the fact that Reid kept many of the specifics slightly vague. It felt like this could happen to anyone, not just Henrietta and Junior. Perhaps it’s unfair of me to compare the two, but when I do I’m still left a little disappointed by Foe. It could’ve been more exciting. 

So all in all,  is it read-worth? It’s hard to tell. It’s predictable. It doesn’t explore new concepts or break new ground. The ideas feel familiar to me and are slightly reminiscent of other body-snatcher books. But the writing style is utterly unique. Each progression in the storyline starts off subtly and I like that. I personally enjoyed Foe both times I read it, but it could’ve been more than what it was. I wanted Reid to expand on it a little bit more. 

BACK OF THE BOOK (AMAZON.COM)

‘Reads like a house on fire’ – the extraordinary new novel by Iain Reid, the acclaimed author of I’m Thinking of Ending Things

You think you know everything about your life.

Long-married couple Junior and Henrietta live a quiet, solitary life on their farm, where they work at the local feed mill and raise chickens. Their lives are simple, straightforward, uncomplicated.

Until everything you think you know collapses.

Until the day a stranger arrives at their door with alarming news: Junior has been chosen to take an extraordinary journey, a journey across both time and distance, while Hen remains at home. Junior will be gone for years. But Hen won’t be left alone.

Who can you trust if you can’t even trust yourself?

As the time for his departure draws nearer, Junior finds himself questioning everything about his life – even whether it’s really his life at all.

 An eerily entrancing page-turner, Foe churns with unease and suspense from the first words to its shocking finale. Perfect for fans of Humans, Westworld and Black Mirror, Foe is a book you will never forget.