31 December, 2013

Book Review: Barracuda

From Goodreads: "He asked the water to lift him, to carry him, to avenge him. He made his muscles shape his fury, made every stroke declare his hate. And the water obeyed; the water would give him his revenge. No one could beat him, no one came close."
His whole life Danny Kelly's only wanted one thing: to win Olympic gold. Everything he's ever done - every thought, every dream, every action - takes him closer to that moment of glory, of vindication, when the world will see him for what he is: the fastest, the strongest and the best. His life has been a preparation for that moment.

His parents struggle to send him to the most prestigious private school with the finest swimming program; Danny loathes it there and is bullied and shunned as an outsider, but his coach is the best and knows Danny is, too, better than all those rich boys, those pretenders. Danny's win-at-all-cost ferocity gradually wins favour with the coolest boys - he's Barracuda, he's the psycho, he's everything they want to be but don't have the guts to get there. He's going to show them all.
"He would be first, everything would be alright when he came first, all would be put back in place. When he thought of being the best, only then did he feel calm."
A searing and provocative novel by the acclaimed author of the international bestseller The Slap, Barracuda is an unflinching look at modern Australia, at our hopes and dreams, our friendships, and our families.

Thoughts: My kids bought me this book for Christmas and like any good reader I started it immediately! It's my last review for 2013 and I am glad to be finishing on a high note.
Tsiolkas is an excellent writer. To say I enjoyed his book, The Slap  would be incorrect, because they are not books you enjoy really. You do however get engrossed and challenged by them.
Barracuda was the same - not enjoyable per say, but challenging and engrossing. At certain points in the book the Australian character is discussed, and not always in nice terms. This was unsettling, to see Australian's as others may see as and agree with some of the assessments they make about us.
Tsiolkas never sets out to make you like his characters. Flawed doesn't even start to describe some of them. Danny in particular had me running the full range of emotions about him - pride, pity, annoyance, understanding...
By the end of Barracuda you are questioning a lot of things - what does it take to make a champion, why do some keep going and others give up, what role does the family around you make and is what you perceive others think about you the truth and does it really matter.
Barracuda is an excellent read and a great way to finish the year.

Challenges: Aussie Author Challenges