Last summer, I picked up the book ‘The Shock of the Fall’ by Nathan Filer. I didn’t know much about the book other than the fact it won the Costa Book Award in 2013 and that it was supposedly a powerful story. Since that moment, I have been back at university and the book has been passed around my family – each member reading it before me. Upon my return, I was handed the book with the promise that I would enjoy it.
‘The Shock of the Fall’ starts with the death of the narrator’s brother – a crucial event the shapes the entire novel and the journey each character takes. The novel is written from the perspective of Matthew Homes who, a young boy when his brother, Simon, dies, finds his life spiralling out of control but is determined to recount his story. Suffering from mental health problems, his story mirrors his state of mind, with and without medication. There is no chronological order to the story and it jumps from past to present as quickly as Matthew’s attention is drawn elsewhere.
Despite Simon’s early death, he is brought to life through Matthew’s memories and you can’t help but love him as Matthew did. You see the other characters through Matthew’s eyes and, as such, can see how he has become shaped by those around him as well as the events that have unfurled. It highlights how difficult it is to understand other people, especially when you are struggling to understand yourself.
As a character-centred piece, this novel works really well. The main plot is Matthew’s personal development as he comes to term with what really happened the night his brother died. It really draws you in and captivates you as a reader. The varying style of writing, font and alternating scenes making for a thrilling read and you can’t help but feel connected to Matthew in some way.
‘The Shock of the Fall’ deserved the award. It is fantastically well-written with characters that could be real. It was emotional and difficult to read at times, as a result. But it is definitely a book to be read.
Rating: 5/5 stars