Review – Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan

13562049Have you ever read a book by an author that you adore, and still end up surprised by the direction in which the novel is taken? Well, that recently happened to me with Ian McEwan. Now, I’m not sure one can really stick McEwan into one genre, or style of writing, but he manages to surprise me with every book he writes, and Sweet Tooth, is no exception.
Set in 1970’s England, the novel follows serena, an avid reader that ended up graduating from Cambridge with a degree in mathematics. After graduation, she applies to MI5 (British security services) and is given a low level desk job. After some time, Serena is approached to join a unit in which the government pays authors, artists, journalists etc…, to produce work that is more aligned with the official views and status quo of the government. Serena is tasked with handling Thomas Haley, a new and upcoming author that the government believes could be a liability. However, as Serena begins to develop feelings for Thomas, will everything work out as planned?
Fear not, dear readers, I have not given away any spoilers! An author of lesser caliber would have been content with writing in the constraints of this simple plot, but not McEwan. Oh no. McEwan is known for character development, and you get 150 pages of that before you even begin to see a peek of the main plot. It may seem unnecessary, but it actually works in this particular instance. Everything builds upon itself, and you will find yourself going “Ahh, so that’s why so and so did or said that”.
I’ll be the first to admit that I am indeed a McEwan fan-boy, however, I believe that actually helps because it allows me to really pick out any negative points, and there are some – only a few very minor points – but nonetheless, they exist. When Serena is vetting Thomas, we read his short fiction along with her, and at times, it did get a little tedious. Necessary, but tedious. There were also one or two minor plot points that could have done with fleshing out, but that’s just me being picky.
If you have read anything of McEwan’s before, then I highly recommend that you pick up his latest novel. If you have not read any of McEwan’s work before, then this is just a good of a place to start as any. Just remember to be patient. McEwan is like water: It will flow in all different directions, but eventually end up where it is supposed to. Enjoy the ride! Sweet Tooth: A Novel
Enjoy!
~ Pegasus.

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3 thoughts on “Review – Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan

  1. I read this, too.

    TThe one best word to describe SWEET TOOTH is “clever.” Readers shouldn’t skip to the last chapter, but that one is the most clever of all.

    All eleven of the McEwan novels that I’ve read have taken their time, even when the book is short, which most of his are. Sometimes a reader may wonder if he’s ever going to get to the point or if, maybe, he got to the point and the reader missed it. Usually it’s the latter. Or, as in SWEET TOOTH, he gives clues to the point along the way that the reader may not realize are clues. Even if that is the case, the reader will probably recall them later.

    Then, BAM. How clever this is! McEwan may take his time, but few people can write like he does

    • That’s what I love about McEwan – he doesn’t patronise the reader by giving you a nice little summary of the points, wrapped in a bow. He tells a story, and he takes his time, like any good storyteller should.

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