This book is a perfect example of negative reviews selling a book. Specifically Shelbs’s and Kells’s reviews. I had to see what all the fuss was about. So, yeah, the negative reviews of this book sold me. I paid money for this book based solely on negative reviews. Some authors need to hear that. They need to let that shit sink in. Are Shelbs and Kells stupid for not getting this book? Nope. And I’ll explain why.
Iain Reid’s I’m Thinking of Ending Things is 224 pages in hardcover. The audiobook (which I suggest you listen to instead of reading the actual book) is five hours and twenty-two minutes long (5:22). If you read it at x2 speed, you can listen to it in the time it takes to watch one of The Hobbitmovies. There’s a reason this book is as short as it is. Reid wants you to read his book twice, and not necessarily in the same order in which you first read it. He’s a tricksy hobbitses, and we shall discuss more in the Spoiler Discussion.
This book is utterly fascinating, and I believe that’s why so many people are torn over it. All too often we’re lulled into a sense of normality. We think things should happen one way and we get locked into that mindset. So much so that we cannot see the forest for the trees. The frustrating part about this book is that is seems to have been written for audio. In the audiobook, when you come to the “twist”, there’s an obvious change and everything becomes clear as day. I relistened to the book right after listening to it the first time and I read an entirely different book. Simply put, this is kinda (but not really) like The Sixth Sense. Second time around, you will see .
Do I think you’re going to read this twice? No. Do I think you’re going to reread this to see if I’m right? No. But I did, and my experience was vastly improved the second time around.
In summation: Some of you like long(er) books. If you can dedicate yourself to 500 pages, there’s no reason you can’t reread this (maybe in a different order?) right after you finish it. You’ll likely see what Reid did in the first readthrough, but there’s so many goodies in the reread. Simple stuff you would never have paid attention to, like, say, a red door knob.
Final Judgment: Two experiences in one book
Spoiler Discussion: Wherein I spoil I’m Thinking of Ending Things, by Iain Reid.
Reid gives clear instructions in the very last chapter of this book. The unnamed duo who’ve been talking between the chapters are discussing the book found next to Jake’s body, and the guy tells the woman that he thinks she should read it once and then read it again, only backward. This is a pain in the ass to do in audio, but I did it. I suggest you do the same. You know, if you wanna.
Yes, Jake killed himself because he was struggling with schizophrenia, as most super-intelligent folks do. No, there never was any girlfriend. It was always him. He made up, in his mind, everything that happened after the night he met her in the bar. This book is a very sick man playing in his own head. It’s sad and disturbing and even a bit beautiful. Madness usually is.
Jake did work in a lab. He left that job to take a job as a janitor. Somewhere he could just blend in and do his own thing and, even though he was around people, he kinda wasn’t. How many of you remember your high school janitors? Did you hang out with that person or did they just kinda exist on the edge?
I understand why people didn’t like this book, but I fucking loved it. Reid made the book just short enough that you can reread it with ease right after reading it the first time. Bravo. Good on him for trying something unique with his fiction.
Lastly, in the audiobook, right at the repetitious part at the end, when he says that one line over and over again, the narrator switches from female to male. I don’t know how they pulled this off in the book, but in the audiobook it is chilling and makes the twist clear. That’s my favorite part of the book, really, but don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the entire experience.
Thanks for joining me.