A local girl drowns one night in summer on the shore. As a seething guilt settles over the teenagers of this fractured town, another girl narrates the experience of their hard-partying, fiercely divided collective. Her parents’ marriage violently collapsing, her brother spiralling into increasing destructiveness, she sinks further back into the events leading up to this tragedy and the deeper fault-lines in the community.
The way “Machine” is written won’t be for everyone, it is a long, teenage stream of consciousness where every little thought in the main protagonists head comes out on the page- from the mundane to the sublime to the ridiculous- so if you are married to the idea of a straightforward narrative with grammar and punctuation rules fully followed you probably won’t like this.
It took me a few pages for the way this story unfolds to kick in but once it did I was hooked. It is not a long book and it flew past me, giving a snapshot view of the lives going on within it, at a time where a peculiar grief has settled in.
It’s a difficult novel to describe and it’s one of those where reader interpretations will have a heavy influence on what you take from it so I’ll refrain from trying to give you plot details. Suffice to say it is compelling, involving and really very clever.
I like a novel that pushes the boundaries of how a story is told especially when there’s a distinct lack of the pretentious as is the case here, so Machine settled into my psyche with a quiet meditative sense of melancholy. For that reason I recommend it. Especially if you are looking for something a bit different.