Frank Thilliez Syndrome E | SheSpeaks

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  • taletreader By  taletreader    
    06.18.14

    Franck Thilliez has created a thrilling piece of work which grabbed my attention at the beginning but ultimately left me somewhat disappointed. While we first spend a lot of time with one of the main characters, Franck Sharko, on his case, we are suddenly thrust into a tangled web of other cases that are supposed to join together. My problem here isn't that I didn't enjoy the different cases nor that following the cases was confusing, but that when all is said and done, everything was just a mishmash that didn't express itself well to me. In fact, it was almost to the point of being absurd. There is a minor character, Ludovic, who the story begins with and works off of; however, he is really not ever mentioned again in the book after his ordeal with going blind. I would have actually enjoyed reading more about his character--especially since it is he who kicks the story into gear. The character of Lucie was thought out much more than Ludovic, but not near as much as Sharko, and I would have liked to have heard more about her--like her back story. The book references it many times, but I was frustrated when no details were ever really given. The small romantic sub-plot between Lucie and Sharko could have been expanded upon, but it was nice to have even been included in the story. Sharko's character was fascinating to me because of his schizophrenia diagnosis. I hate to say it, but there aren't many books I've read that feature a main character with schizophrenia without that said character being portrayed as insane. It was interesting in this case to read how the character of Sharko dealt with his schizophrenia and how it affected his career, his relationships, and just his mentality. Having said all that, I detested what the author decided to do with Sharko's character. I know we want the best for people but...ah! I may have said too much already. The dry humor of Sharko was fantastic and placed perfectly as if to relax tense muscles after being on edge for so long due to some particularly thrilling scenes. The dialogue with Sharko's character and others was intriguing as well as genuine. His words seemed exactly like something this character I had created in my head would say. Because this book is translated, I figured I would find myself having at least some trouble with the way things were worded. But I really didn't. Everything was actually well-handled, and there were some real gems in the language. One of my favorite lines from this book, for a few reasons, appears when describing a very minor character: "A brilliant brain beneath a high forehead, smooth as a coated pill." Smooth as a coated pill resonated with me because of the unusual comparison, but also because it made me think of Sharko as more realistic, being that he is supposedly thinking this, and we readers know by now of his inner fight with taking pills. What was interesting with this book but also the reason I said so many ideas were tangled up, is that we learn about film and its history, we learn about neuroscience, we learn details about several cases... I think there was almost too much information to swallow. I did have a major problem with how the book--as thrilling as I've mentioned it is--would be suspenseful and engaging and suddenly, flatline. The story would either become really quite boring or just hard to grasp what was going on (like I said, too many elements). I was pretty disappointed in the end. Having traveled through this entire book wanting to desperately learn what Syndrome E is all about to only discover that when laid out, it sounds just tacky and ludicrous, left me flabbergasted. Even Sharko said it was far-fetched. However, like several pieces of the story in Thilliez's book, Syndrome E is apparently real. I know what you're thinking, because I'm thinking it too: Truth is stranger than fiction. Syndrome E is listed as an upcoming movie title, as well! I can't wait to see what they do with this and how they adapt it to the screen. (I hope it's a little bit better.) *Thanks NetGalley for this free copy.

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