‘Bewilderment’ is a wonderful book! It is beautifully written and made me look at the world in a completely different way. What it lacks in pace and action, it gains, in bucketloads, in tackling the ‘big’ ideas – human impact on the world, the existence of life on other planets, and probably the biggest one of all… the relationship between parent and child.
I absolutely adored the character of Robin, whom I recognised from so many of the children that I have taught. I found him to be complex, intriguing and totally believable, and he is presented to us with so much sensitivity and love, that I was rooting for him all the way through. After the first twenty pages or so, I really wanted to give Robin a hug, and the author kept this interest going all the way through the book. I also really felt for Theo, who represented so many of the dilemmas and struggles faced by every parent. Both characters were hugely likeable and yet hugely realistic. A masterclass in characterisation!
My only reservation in giving this book full marks would be that I have issues with the novel’s ending being somewhat rushed – there was a rather ‘blink and you miss it’ climax here that I really wanted to be explored in greater detail. I rarely wish for novels to be longer, but in this instance, another 50 pages or so would have been welcomed.
There is a very strong ecological message in this book, and it is bang up-to-date in terms of the arguments and issues that are posed here. Fans of Greta Thunberg will love it! I was also introduced to a lot of ideas relating to the neuroscience and astrobiolology (a new one to me!) – I’ll be honest in admitting that I’m not sure how much of this is real, and how much is sci-fi though!
This is a gorgeous read, and perfect for nature-lovers, parents and anyone who finds joy in the unexplored. I wish Richard Powers all the luck in the world with his nomination for the 2021 Booker Prize – this is the book that the world needs right now, and I can see it being very well received.
Thank you to Richard Powers, NetGalley and Random House UK for an ARC of ‘Bewilderment’ in exchange for my honest review.