Strungballs by Mike Russell
I received a copy of Strungballs in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank the author and also, Jay the Strangebooks secretary for this opportunity. This review will contain minor spoilers.
This is a short novella, numbering only 66 pages and when it commences, we are introduced to a young gentleman called Sydney who is in a 4m x 4m x 4m room awaiting an operation. The medical procedure is to have a cube of his flesh removed, this cities initiation into adulthood for the youngsters. He is then gifted a Strungball by Mother and Father for his bravery. This is simply a cube with a red ball on a white string, and the device is inserted into the place where his cube of flesh used to be, leaving the Strungball dangling in front of Sydney's white gown. He has the latest, coolest design and it beaming with pride. He promises to adhere to the Strungball-Rule:
"Once a Strungball is inserted it must never be removed."
The action takes place in an uncomplicated, utopian, science fiction type city full of Strungball advertising posters, where the inhabitants must always "do what is good". The city is a torus corridor containing 999 identical rooms. After room 999, room 1 comes next. Numbers, sizes, and measurements seem important to the cities tenants as well as in the way Russell writes this tale. Everything seems equal and perfect. Their existences seem very routine, such as residents going to work or school daily and like clockwork, and in addition; the aspirations most children have is to either work in the highly respected industries of Strungball sales or a Strungball advertising. This must be this world's equivalent of an actor or footballer. The curtains to Sydney's room are always closed. The city is protected by a barrier that keeps the monsters away so that the citizens can continue living their tranquil existence. All is good - until Sydney meets a gentleman called Albert who makes him question "Why?"
The characters all seem robotic and stereotypical in this city. Like they have been brainwashed. It is no coincidence that the book cover looks like it does. All except Albert, who is the only individual who has doubts and questions this good society and the need to dangle Strungball from their gowns. What does the city need the cubes of flesh for anyway?
The first half of the narrative flows at a steady pace. After this stage through, Sydney starts questioning things and then embarks on a bizarre journey where he encounters a hollow inside out giant, travels through a forest of veins, all whilst contemplating the difference between what is finite and what is infinite. He may also meet one of these fabled monsters on his travels.
Strangebooks is an apt name for this Brighton based indie press, who released this as well as Russell's short story collection Nothing is Strange. This was a highly unique, weird and perhaps even mind-altering reading experience which I enjoyed. The second half of the story does descend to another level of peculiar chaos that was sometimes confusing. I had to work hard to follow what was going on when reading towards the conclusion. It is like nothing I have ever read before.
This Strungballs book review was written by James Tivendale
Have you read Strungballs?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
Strungballs reader reviews
7/10 from 1 reviews
There are currently no reader reviews for this book. Why not be the first?
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
A father and his young son walk alone through burned America, heading slowly for the coast. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. They have nothi...
Hidden away in the Record Department of the sprawling Ministry of Truth, Winston Smith skilfully rewrites the past to suit the needs of the Party. Yet he inwardly rebels ag...
The year is 2033. The world has been reduced to rubble. Humanity is nearly extinct. The half-destroyed cities have become uninhabitable through radiation. Beyond their boun...
Oryx and Crake
Snowman may be the last man on earth, the only survivor of an unnamed apocalypse. Once he was Jimmy, a member of a scientific elite; now he lives in bitter isolation and lo...
Facing down an unprecedented malevolent enemy, the government responds with a nuclear attack. America as it was is gone forever, and now every citizen – from the Pres...
The Last Man Standing
Italy is on the brink of collapse. Borders are closed, banks withhold money, the postal service stalls. Armed gangs of drug-fuelled youths roam the countryside. Leonardo wa...
The Drowned World
Fluctuations in solar radiation have melted the ice caps, sending the planet into a new Triassic Age of unendurable heat. London is a swamp; lush tropical vegetation grows ...
Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse
John Joseph Adams
Famine, death, war, pestilence. These are said to be the harbingers of the biblical apocalypse-Armageddon. The End of the World. Whether by nuclear warfare, a biological di...
The Crystal World
Through a ‘leaking’ of time, the West African jungle starts to crystallize. Trees metamorphose into enormous jewels. Crocodiles encased in second glittering ski...
Emily St John Mandel
What was lost in the collapse: almost everything, almost everyone, but there is still such beauty. One snowy night in Toronto famous actor Arthur Leander dies on stage whil...
An illness spreads through an unnamed city. It has only one symptom: blindness. It comes without fanfare, pain, or warning. One moment a man waits in his car at the traffic...
The Reapers are the Angels
God is a slick god. Temple knows. She knows because of all the crackerjack miracles still to be seen on this ruined globe... Older than her years and completely alone, Temp...
Legends of the Red Sun
Mark Charan Newton
An ice age strikes a chain of islands, and thousands come to seek sanctuary at the gates of Villjamur. It’s a city of ancient spires and bridges, a place where banshe...
The Return Man
The outbreak tore the USA in two. The east remains a safe haven. The west has become a ravaged wilderness. They call it the Evacuated States. It is here that Henry Marco ma...
A modern Britain. An age-old cruelty. Britain's magically skilled aristocracy compels all commoners to serve them for ten years - and now it's the Hadleys' turn...
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages:
Best of 2016
What are Strungballs? Ten-year-old Sydney is about to find out... but first he must have a cube of his flesh removed. Sydney will transgress everything he was taught to believ...
Books of the Month
A selection of books - old and new alike - that were a joy to read.
Ceda, now a Blade Maiden in service to the kings of Sharakhai, trains as one of their elite warriors, gleaning secrets even as they send her on covert missions to further their rule. She knows the dark history of the asirim--that hundreds of years ago they were enslaved to the kings against their will--but when she bonds with them as a Maiden, c...
Dead Men Naked
After the sudden death of his best friend Neil, involving a 6-foot giant crow and quite some Tequila, Lou’s life takes an unexpected turn towards the impossible. As L...
Age of Assassins
Girton Club-Foot, apprentice to the land's best assassin, still has much to learn about the art of taking lives. But their latest mission tasks him and his master with ...
A Conjuring of Light
The precarious equilibrium among the four Londons has reached its breaking point. Once brimming with the red vivacity of magic, darkness casts a shadow over the Maresh Empi...
Sebastien de Castell
Falcio val Mond, First Cantor of the Greatcoats, is on the brink of fulfilling his dead King's dream: Aline is about to take the throne and restore the rule of law once...
The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart
Edinburgh, 1874. On the coldest night the world has ever seen, Little Jack is born with a frozen heart and immediately undergoes a life-saving operation. But Dr Madeleine i...
The republic faces annihilation, despite the vigilance of Galharrow's Blackwings. When a raven tattoo rips itself from his arm to deliver a desperate message, Galharrow...