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Foe: A Novel

Foe: A Novel

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Foe: A Novel

4/5 (56 valoraciones)
245 página
3 horas
Sep 4, 2018


A taut, psychological mind-bender from the bestselling author of I’m Thinking of Ending Things.

We don’t get visitors. Not out here. We never have.

In Iain Reid’s second haunting, philosophical puzzle of a novel, set in the near-future, Junior and Henrietta live a comfortable, solitary life on their farm, far from the city lights, but in close quarters with each other. One day, a stranger from the city arrives with alarming news: Junior has been randomly selected to travel far away from the farm...very far away. The most unusual part? Arrangements have already been made so that when he leaves, Henrietta won't have a chance to miss him, because she won't be left alone—not even for a moment. Henrietta will have company. Familiar company.

Told in Reid’s sharp and evocative style, Foe examines the nature of domestic relationships, self-determination, and what it means to be (or not to be) a person. An eerily entrancing page-turner, it churns with unease and suspense from the first words to its shocking finale.
Sep 4, 2018

Sobre el autor

Iain Reid is the author of two critically acclaimed, award-winning books of nonfiction. His internationally bestselling debut novel, I’m Thinking of Ending Things, has been published in more than twenty countries. Oscar-winner Charlie Kaufman is writing and directing a film based on the novel, which Reid will co-produce. His second novel, Foe, was an instant bestseller and feature film rights have been acquired by Anonymous Content, with Reid set to executive produce. Follow him on Twitter @Reid_Iain.

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Foe - Iain Reid




Two headlights. I wake to the sight of them. Odd because of the distinct green tint. Not the usual white headlights you see around here. I spot them through the window, at the end of the lane. I must have been in a kind of quasi slumber; an after-dinner daze brought on by a full stomach and the evening heat. I blink several times, attempting to focus.

There’s no warning, no explanation. I can’t hear the car from here. I just open my eyes and see the green lights. It’s like they appeared out of nowhere, shaking me from my daze. They are brighter than most headlights, glaring from between the two dead trees at the end of the lane. I don’t know the precise time, but it’s dark. It’s late. Too late for a visitor. Not that we get many of them.

We don’t get visitors. Never have. Not out here.

I stand, stretch my arms above my head. My lower back is stiff. I pick up the open bottle of beer that’s beside me, walk from my chair straight ahead several steps to the window. My shirt is unbuttoned, as it often is at this time of night. Nothing ever feels simple in this heat. Everything requires an effort. I’m waiting to see if, as I think, the car will stop, reverse back onto the road, continue on, and leave us alone, as it should.

But it doesn’t. The car stays where it is; the green lights are pointing my way. And then, after a long hesitation or reluctance or uncertainty, the car starts moving again, toward the house.

You expecting anyone? I yell to Hen.

No, she calls down from upstairs.

Of course she’s not. I don’t know why I asked. We’ve never had anyone show up at this time of night. Not ever. I take a swig of beer. It’s warm. I watch as the car drives all the way up to the house and pulls in beside my truck.

Well, you better come down here, I call again. Someone’s here.

I hear Hen walk down the stairs and into the room. I turn around. She must have just gotten out of the shower. She’s in cutoff shorts and a black tank top. Her hair is damp. She looks beautiful. Truly. I don’t think she could look more like herself or any better than she does right now, like this.

Hello, I say.


Neither of us says anything else for a moment, until she breaks the silence. I didn’t know you were here. Inside, I mean. I thought you were still out in the barn.

She brings her hand up to her hair, playing with it in a specific way, curling it slowly around her index finger and then straightening the hair out. It’s compulsive. She does this when she’s concentrating. Or when she’s agitated.

Someone’s here, I say again.

She stands there, staring at me. I don’t think she’s blinked. Her posture is stiff, reserved.

What? I ask. What is it? Are you okay?

Yes, she replies. It’s nothing. I’m surprised someone’s here.

She takes a few hesitant steps toward me. She maintains more than an arm’s-length distance but is close enough now that I smell her hand cream. Coconut and something else. Mint, I think. It’s a unique smell, and one I register as Hen.

Do you know anyone with a black car like that?

No, I say. Looks official, like government, doesn’t it?

Could be, she says.

The windows are tinted. I can’t see inside.

He must want something. Whoever it is. They’re here, they came all the way up to the house.

A car door finally opens, but no one steps out. At least not right away. We wait. It feels like five minutes—standing, watching, waiting to see who will step out of the car. But maybe it’s more like twenty seconds.

Then, I see a leg. Someone steps out. It’s a man. He has long blond hair. He’s wearing a dark suit. Collared shirt, open at the top, no tie. He has a black briefcase with him. He shuts the car door, adjusts his jacket, and walks up to the front porch. I hear him on the old wooden planks. He doesn’t need to knock on the door because we’re watching, and he can see us through the window. And we know he’s here, but we wait and watch anyhow, and eventually the knock comes.

You answer it, I say, buttoning a section of middle buttons on my shirt.

Hen doesn’t reply but turns and walks out of the living room, goes to the front door. She delays, looks back at me, turns, takes a breath, and then she opens the door.

Hello, she says.

Hi there. Sorry to disturb you at this hour, the man replies. I hope it’s okay. Henrietta, right?

She nods and looks down at her feet.

My name is Terrance. I’d like to have a word with you. Inside, if possible. Is your husband home?

The man’s exaggerated smile hasn’t changed since she opened the door, not at all.

What’s this about? I ask, stepping out of the living room, into the hall. I’m right behind Hen. I place a hand on her shoulder. She flinches at my touch.

The man turns his attention to me. I’m taller than he is, wider. And older by a few years. Our eyes meet. He holds his attention on me for several moments, longer than what I deem normal. His smile moves to his eyes as if he’s delighted by what he sees.

Junior, right?

Sorry, do we know you?

You look great.

What’s that?

This is very exciting. He looks to Hen. She doesn’t look at him. I had butterflies in my stomach the whole way over, and it’s not a short drive from the city. It’s thrilling to finally see you like this. I’m here to talk with you, both of you. That’s all, he says. Just to talk. I think you’ll want to hear what I have to say.

What’s this about? I ask again.

There’s something unusual about this man’s presence. Hen’s unease is visible. I’m uncomfortable because Hen is uncomfortable. He better start telling us more.

I’m here on behalf of OuterMore. Have you heard of us?

OuterMore, I say. That’s the organization that’s dealing with—

Would it be okay if I came in?

I open the door wider. Hen and I step aside. Even if this stranger has malicious intentions, I’ve seen enough to know Terrance is not a threat, not to me. There isn’t much to him. He has an office worker’s body, a delicate frame. He’s a pencil pusher. He’s not a man like me, a laborer, someone used to working with his body. Once inside the front hall, he looks around.

Great place, he says. Spacious. Rustic, unadorned, in a charming way. Lovely.

Do you want to sit down, in here? Hen says, leading us to the living room.

Thank you, he replies.

Hen turns on a lamp and sits in her rocking chair. I sit in my recliner. Terrance sits in the middle of the couch in front of us. He puts his case on the coffee table. His pant legs rise as he sits. He’s wearing white socks.

Anybody else in the car? I ask.

Just me, he says. Making these kinds of visits is my job. Took a little longer to get here than I thought it would. You guys are a long way out. That’s why I’m a bit late. Again, my apologies. But it really is great to be here. To see you both.

Yeah, it is quite late, says Hen. You’re lucky you caught us before bed.

He’s so calm, relaxed, as if he’s been here, sitting on our couch hundreds of times. His excessive composure has the counter effect on me. I try to catch Hen’s eye, but she’s just looking straight ahead and won’t turn her head. I return to the matter at hand.

What’s this about? I ask.

Right, I don’t want to get ahead of myself. As I said, I’m a representative of OuterMore. We’re an organization that formed more than six decades ago. We started in the driverless automobile sector. Our fleet of self-driving cars was the most efficient and safest in the world. Our mandate changed over the years, and today it is very specific. We’ve moved out of the auto sector and into aerospace, exploration, and development. We’re working toward the next phase of transition.

The next phase of transition, I repeat. So, like, space? The government sent you here? That’s a government car out there.

Yes and no. If you follow the news at all, you might know that OuterMore is a joint assembly. A partnership. We have a branch in government, hence the car, and roots in the private sector. I can show you a brief introductory video about us.

He removes a screen from his black case. He holds it up with both hands, facing it toward us. I glance at Hen. She nods, signaling to me that I should watch. A video plays. It seems typical of government-style promotion—overly enthusiastic and forced. Again, I peer at Hen. She appears uninterested. She’s twirling a lock of hair around her index finger.

The images on the screen move from one to the next quickly, too fast to discern specific details or glean intent. People smiling, people engaged in group activities, laughing together, eating together. Everyone is happy. There are several images of the sky, the launch of a rocket, and rows of barrack-style metal beds.

When the video ends, Terrance tucks the screen away in his bag. So, he says. As you can see, we’ve been working on this particular project for a long time. Longer than most people realize. There’s still a lot to do, but things are progressing. The technology is quite impressive and advanced. We just received another significant surge of funding. This is happening. I know some of this has been in the media of late, but I can tell you that it goes much deeper than what’s being reported. This is a long time coming.

I’m trying to follow his logic, but I can’t quite piece it together.

Just to be clear, when you say, This is happening, what exactly are you talking about? We don’t follow the news much, do we? I say, looking over at Hen.

No, she says. Not really.

I’m waiting for her to elaborate, to ask a question, to say something, anything, but she doesn’t.

I’m talking about the first trip, he says. The Installation.

The what?

The Installation. It’s the first wave of temporary resettlement.

Resettlement. Like, away from Earth? In space?

That’s correct.

I thought that was more hypothetical, like a fantasy, I say. That’s what this is about?

It’s very real. And, yes, this is why I’m here.

Hen exhales. It’s closer to an audible groan. I can’t tell if it’s uncertainty or annoyance.

I’m sorry, the man says, but could I trouble one of you for a glass of water? I’m parched from the drive.

Hen stands, turns in my general direction, but doesn’t make eye contact. You want anything?

I shake my head. I still have my beer to finish, the one I was drinking before the car arrived, before our night took this unpredictable turn. I pick it up off the table, take a warm mouthful.

Well, here we are. This is your house. Very nice. How old is this place? he asks when Hen’s gone to the kitchen.

Old, I say. Couple hundred years or so.

Amazing! I love that. And you’re happy here? You like it, Junior? You feel comfortable? Just the two of you?

What’s he implying? I wonder.

It’s really all we’ve ever known, I say. Hen and me. We’re happy here, together.

He tilts his head to the side, smiling again.

Well, what a place. What a story. Must be a lot of history in these walls. Must be nice to have so much space and quiet. You could do whatever you want out here. No one would see or hear a thing. There’s no one to bother you. Are there other farms around here?

Not so much anymore, I say. Used to be. Now it’s mostly just crop fields. The canola.

Yes, I saw the fields on my drive. I didn’t realize canola was quite so tall.

It didn’t used to be, I say, when farmers owned this land. Now, most of it is owned by the big companies or the government. The companies grow the new stuff. It’s a hybrid, a lot taller and more yellow than the original was in the old days. Barely needs any water. These plants will last through a long drought. Grows faster, too. Doesn’t seem natural to me, but it is what it is.

He leans toward me.

That’s fascinating. Do you ever feel a little . . . antsy? All alone out here?

Hen returns with his glass of water and passes it to Terrance. She moves her rocking chair closer to me and sits.

Fresh from our well, I say. You won’t get water like this in the city.

He thanks her and brings it to his mouth, drinking three-quarters of the glass in one long, loud pull. A small rivulet of water escapes the side of his mouth, down his chin. He puts the glass down on the table with a satisfying sigh.

Delicious, he says. Now, as I was saying, planning is already under way. I’m a liaison with the public relations department. I’ve been assigned to your file. I’ll be working closely with both of you.

With us? I say. We have a file? Why do we have a file?

You didn’t until . . . well, recently.

My mouth is dry. I swallow, but it doesn’t help.

We didn’t sign up for anything or agree to have a file, I say, sipping from my beer.

He displays his toothy smile again. Like many people in the city, I assume his sparkling white teeth are implants. No, that’s true. But we’ve had our first lottery, Junior.

Your first what? I ask.

Our first lottery.

That’s what you’re calling it, says Hen, shaking her head.

A lottery? What exactly are you talking about? I ask.

It’s hard for me to know how much the general public such as yourselves are aware of already, how much you’ve pieced together based on things you’ve read or seen. I guess out here, not much. So it’s like this: you’ve been selected. That’s why I’m here.

Even though his mouth is closed, I see Terrance run his tongue over his top row of teeth.

I look over at Hen. She’s looking straight ahead again. Why won’t she look at me? Something’s bothering her. It’s not like her to avoid me. I don’t like it.

We have to listen to this, Junior, Hen says, but her tone is off. We have to try to understand what he’s saying.

Terrance looks from me to her and back to me. Does he notice her irritation? Could he? He doesn’t know us, know what we’re like together when we’re alone.

Excuse my informality, he says, standing up to take off his jacket. The water helped, but I’m still a bit warm. Everything is air-conditioned back home. I hope you don’t mind if I get a bit more comfortable. Are you sure you don’t want some water, Henrietta?

I’m fine, she says.

Henrietta. He’s calling her by her full name. He’s sweating through his shirt. The blotches of random moisture look like a map of small islands. He folds the jacket and lays it down on the couch beside him.

Now’s the time to ask more questions. He’s giving me the opportunity. It’s clear from his body language.

So you said I’ve been selected.

Right, he says. You have.

For what? I ask.

"For the trip. The Installation. Obviously, this is preliminary; it’s just the beginning. I have to stress that this is still only the long list, so I don’t want you to get too excited just yet. But what can I say? It’s hard not to be excited. I’m excited for you. I love this part of my job more than anything—delivering the good news. There are no guarantees. I need you to understand that. In fact, far from it, but this is significant. This is a significant moment."

He looks at Hen. Her face is expressionless.

"You wouldn’t believe the flood of volunteers we’ve had over the last few years. Thousands of folks are all dying to be picked. There are a lot of people who would give everything they

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  • (4/5)
    Iain Reid first came to my attention with his eerie horror novel, I'm Thinking of Ending Things. It was so well conceived and there was a twist at the end that I never saw coming, yet was carefully written into every chapter of the book. So I was quick to grab a copy of his new novel, Foe, which I read watching for any clue as to what would come next. It did me no good. I spotted nothing and was exactly as surprised as when I wasn't expecting it. Foe tells the story of Junior and his wife, Hen, who live in an isolated farmhouse in a rural area. Junior works in a local grain mill, Hen in a nursing home and while their lives are simple and quiet, Junior is content. And then a man from the government shows up at their house with some astonishing news, Junior has been put on a long list of candidates to go build a space colony. As they wait to hear back, their relationship goes off-kilter, even more so when the government man returns with more exciting news. Foe is all about atmosphere, and this rising sense that things are wrong, without precisely being about to say how or why. Reid sets this novel in a near-future where things are almost, but not quite, identical to how things are now, creating a sense of being off-balance that he uses to enhance the reader's sense of both familiarity and dislocation. This book is just fantastic and I'm still thinking it over.
  • (4/5)
    Foe has a claustrophobic setting, an old farmhouse out in the middle of unending canola fields, and it has only three primary characters: Junior, the narrator; his wife, Hen; and a visitor, Terrance. Terrance shows up unexpectedly to tell Junior that he has been chosen by lottery for the long list of people who might go live on a space station for a couple of years, leaving his wife behind. This visit reveals some tensions in the marriage, at least on Hen's part, and this largely is what the novel is about: marriage, our expectations of and assumptions about each other as married people, our needs for ourselves to live fulfilling lives. The suspense is a slow burn, gradually thickening, until Terrance returns. There are twists, but they aren't the point of the novel either. This domestic tale with a sci-fi context feels nail-bitingly creepy. Slight spoiler: I also appreciate that this author played around with punctuation use for a reason, rather than just because it's trendy (or lazy) not to use quotation marks these days, and used it to very good effect.
  • (3/5)
    Rather interesting psychological-science fiction mix of a novel that keeps the reader guessing right up to the last page. And even then, I have to admit, that I'm still scratching my head more than a little bit about what really happened to the novel's two main characters, a husband-wife team living on a small farm way out in the middle of nowhere.
  • (4/5)
    Sometime in the future, Junior and his wife, Henrietta (Hen) live what seems a contented life on an isolated farm. They rarely get visitors but one day, a man, Terrance, shows up at their door unannounced. He tells them that he represents Outermuch, an organization dedicated to space settlement and that Junior has been selected by a lottery for a long list to travel to space.Over the next two years, Terrance reappears always unannounced, first to tell Junior that he has been selected for this important mission, then to take Junior's physical measurements and record memories from both Junior and Hen. Eventually he moves in with them, constantly asking for more, and more intimate, information, doing chores around the farm, even taking Junior's job after he is injured.His presence, not surprisingly, unsettles the couple's lives especially after he tells Junior he doesn't have to worry about Hen while he's gone because she will not be left alone - the company will ensure she has constant companionship. While Junior becomes increasingly more paranoid, questioning Terrance's meaning and motives but seemingingly unable to fight back, Hen seems to develop a friendship with the interloper. All of this leads to a denouement I, at least, did not see coming.Foe by Iain Reid is one heck of dark and twisty psychological thriller that kept me guessing right up to the big reveal. It is told in the first person by Junior and it gives a very interesting view of the relationship between couples - Junior spends much of his time trying to understand his relationship with Hen whom he views as his anchor but often his analysis does not match his own description of her behaviour. As the publisher's blurb points out, it is a look at 'what it means to be (or not to be) a person' and, as Reid shows, this is much more complicated than most of us believe. This is a fairly short book but a fascinating, suspenseful, and often creepy look at how we see others and how it often doesn't match the reality.Thanks to Netgalley and Simon and Schuster Canada for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review
  • (5/5)
    This is a seriously creepy book. It takes place sometime in the near future, though we learn very little about it. The narrator gives little away, and often seems to understand even less than we do about what is going on.The plot revolves around a couple who live in rural isolation who are told that the husband — Junior — has been selected to go off into outer space for a couple of years. To compensate his wife, Henrietta, OuterMore, the mysterious company behind the program will be giving her what is effectively a “biomechanical duplicate”, an android replacement for him — but one which looks and speaks and behaves exactly like Junior.From the beginning, you get the sense that there is going to be a plot twist or two, and there are, and then you feel oh-so-clever because you saw that one coming, but then the one you didn’t see coming whacks you right on the head.Iain Reid is a great storyteller and this a chilling, weird book. You’ll read it in one day, but you won’t forget it for a very long time.
  • (3/5)
    In Iain Reid’s second novel—set in the near future and in an unspecified geographic location—a young childless couple, Junior and Henrietta (Hen), live in an isolated farmhouse surrounded by fields of canola. Their life is simple. They keep a few chickens. Both work regular jobs. One hot summer evening, with no prior warning, a polite, well-dressed young man named Terrance arrives at the front door—alarming enough in itself since they never get visitors. Terrance represents an organization called OuterMore and he is bearing wonderful news: Junior has been placed on the longlist of individuals selected to take part in a project that will require him to leave Earth and travel to the “Installation,” (the implication is that this is a space station), where he will live with other participants and work for a lengthy but unspecified period of time. Though the news is unexpected and certainly disconcerting for Junior and Hen, Terrance projects so much enthusiasm and sincerity that they resist voicing doubts and misgivings—especially considering that being longlisted is no guarantee that Junior will make the final cut. Eventually however it turns out that Junior does make the cut, and two years later, when Terrance arrives to deliver this piece of news, he also drops another crucial bit of information: that in Junior’s absence he will be replaced by a duplicate: an exact replica that will perform his duties and functions and provide companionship for Hen. The crux of Foe centres on this unsettling premise: that someday technology will have advanced to such a degree that it will be possible to build copies of ourselves that are not just physically precise, but also emotionally and intellectually identical to the original (The reader might well ask, Why would anyone want to do this?). Later, at a further stage in his prep work, Terrance moves into the farmhouse, armed with myriad gadgets and devices that record and harvest data, observes Junior and Hen going about their daily lives and conducts interviews with them. In the meantime, the reader detects fractures developing in Junior and Hen’s relationship—they no longer seem comfortable with each other, inexplicably Junior’s memories of his past are hazy, Hen reveals that she’s no longer so thrilled with life on the farm and might want to live in the city—and as the day of Junior’s departure draws near, the divide begins to seem unbridgeable. It would be unfair to give away more than this. Foe is a novel that depends for its effect on slowly building tensions and subtle intimations that more is happening behind the scenes than is immediately apparent. However, something about the withholding in this book comes across as calculated, unnatural and forced. (This is not meant as a criticism of authors who withhold information from the reader. The judicious withholding of information is a standard strategy in all fiction.) Important details—for instance, under whose authority is OuterMore empowered to rip citizens from their lives and send them into space?—are left unexplored and unexplained. Reid drops hints about what’s really going on, but it is done in a manner that, in retrospect, once you’ve finished the book, seems disingenuous. The finale creeps up on us, but it’s one that appears to defy logic. In the end, the reader of Foe is left with as many questions as answers.
  • (4/5)
    This book led me along 85% of the way confused. I was even getting bored with the not knowing, I mean, give the reader something. Then the end happened... it was interesting but not enough to win the book a 4 or 5 star rating for me.This book is marked horror and by no means is it horror - SciFi, sure but definitely not horror, it wasn't gory or suspenseful.
  • (4/5)
    Many thanks to Netgalley, Simon and Schuster Canada and Iain Reid for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are 100% mine and independent of receiving an advanced copy.This is the kind of book I absolutely love. It reminds me of “The Twilight Zone”. Everything seems very normal but there is an underlying creepy, dark undertone that gives you the chills. You can’t put your finger on it but you know it’s coming. It is set in the future but other than a few telltale signs it could take place today, giving it a timeless feel. This book delivered in every way that was important. It is stark and hauntingly beautiful and makes you think about the big questions of life, love, relationships and what we want out of life. By paring back on all the extraneous details, Reid allows the focus to remain on the characters. Junior and his wife Henrietta live on a farm, far away from civilization with no social interaction. Their farm is run down and although there is much space Junior and Hen live almost on top of one another, each being the other’s entire world. They are a quiet couple but you are never sure if it is because they are so comfortable with one another they don’t need to say anything or if there is a distance between them that neither one of them want to address. One night a mysterious man named Terence appears on their doorstep informing them that Junior is being considered by OuterMore Corporation for an adventure that will take him far away. They don’t know when he will be leaving, how long he will be gone or what he will be doing, but Terence assures them that now they are part of the “family” they will be well looked after. There is no choice in the matter, it is not something Junior applied for and Terence’s happy-to-help exterior but never-answer-any-question-with-details interior definitely let’s you know something is up. Two years go by and Terence knocks on their door again to inform them Junior has been selected and he will be going into space. He moves in with the couple and proceeds to administer many tests. Terence needs to know everything not only about Junior but about Junior and Hen as a couple. The strain on having him be so invasive takes a toll on the couple. Junior feels Henrietta pulling away. Terence’s evasiveness puts a toll on Junior and he starts to unravel. There is so much more going on but I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who wants to read the book.This read like a play. Anyhow, that’s how it played in my mind. There are so many big questions that this book evokes I will only touch on a few. When Terence returns for the second time Junior wants him out of his house. Junior says the reason is that he and Henrietta need their privacy. Terence’s reply is that he had two years. He knew he was leaving so why did he wait until the last minute to spend so much time with her, be close to her, say important things to her. Why do we wait? Why don’t we live every moment to the fullest. Having had a serious health scare, you would think I had learned this lesson better than most. But life has a funny way of taking over and we don’t live every moment like it is our last. Why aren’t our priorities more in line with our wishes? Henrietta hints at the fact that she might not be happy. She wants to explore the big city and do exciting things. Why can’t she share this with the person to whom she is closest to? What is it that stops her from sharing her wants, dreams and desires with Junior? These are the types of gems that this book leaves in its wake for you to ponder. I don’t want to give you the impression that this is a heavy book. The sci-fi part is very very cool. There are lots of ethical questions that also could be entertained with that piece. I’m being vague because I don’t want to give anything away. The mystery/thriller aspect keeps you guessing until you slowly start to put the pieces together. There is an underlying creepiness that gives you chills but never crosses into horror at all. There are many entry points so even if you think this isn’t your genre, I think it is worth give this one a try.
  • (5/5)
    It's rare that I pick up a book and keep reading till it's done, but this book is that mesmerizing. If I had to categorize it, I'd say it's psychological horror. From the first page, the reader is unsure what's going on, but whatever it is, it's unsettling. The reader, however, can't help but be sucked right in. The time period is probably several decades in the future, and there are three characters, with the story told in the first person by Junior. Junior and his wife Hen live on an isolated and rundown farm, although they don't work the farm and have other jobs. It's a very quiet existence with few visitors. One evening a large black car pulls up and out steps a man who introduces himself as Terrance, a representative from a semi-governmental organization who has come to congratulate Junior that he's been drafted onto the long list of possible candidates to live for an extended time in an installation being used to study transporting humans off-planet. It will be several years before there's a decision on the short list. Terrance smoothly assures the couple that this is wonderful news, and he proceeds to take measurements of Junior and ask him many, many questions. Hen apparently knows more than Junior about what is going on, but Junior is unable to say no and goes along with Terrance's explanations, acquiescing to the monitors and blood work and telling Terrance what he wants to know. Terrance leaves and life goes back to normal, but two years later he returns, joyfully announcing that Junior is on the short list. He moves in uninvited to devote more time to questioning Junior in depth about his life, adding more and more sensors and medications to Junior's daily regimen and setting up multiple recording devices around the house. At this point, both the reader and Junior are distinctly uncomfortable with what Terrance is planning, and I, for one, began to wonder if one of the three was an alien. It doesn't help that more and more frequently there's a siting in the house of a large rhinoceros beetle which seem to simply stare at the inhabitants. Hen has begun arguing with Terrance and telling Junior he should resist, but Junior can't seem to, for all that he now doubts Terrance's intentions. I'm not going to say anything more about the plot except that it gets even more intense, with a wham of a finale, then a bit more, and then another finale which brings a smile to the reader's face. Not as strange as, say, Jeff Vandermeer, more like a Lucius Shepard novel, and just as wonderful. I dare you to start reading this and not finish it.
  • (3/5)
    Junior and Henrietta are living a quiet and solitary life on their farm when a stranger arrives to inform Junior that he has been randomly selected to journey into space. However, Henrietta will not be left alone as someone familiar will be staying with her while Junior is away. This is a psychological suspense/sci-fi novel set in the near future and mainly deals with family relationships, how well we know each other, and how people deal with unthinkable situations.Overall, I enjoyed the novel but found it did lag a bit at times. I am glad I stuck with it as it was an interesting story.
  • (4/5)
    Pros: atmospheric, interesting characters Cons: somewhat predictable Junior and Henrietta’s lives change the day Terrance shows up at their country house. Junior has been chosen by lottery to participate in the installation, meaning he’ll be away for an undetermined amount of time. But the company has decided that Henrietta won’t be left alone while he’s gone… The book is very atmospheric. The chapters are short and punchy and leave you feeling unsettled. Junior asks Terrance questions and it’s fascinating how easily Terrance deflects the conversation or speaks a lot without saying anything. There’s a level of frustration you feel, along with Junior. The first person perspective was a little peculiar, as both Junior’s thoughts and spoken words were done without italics or quotation marks. A few times I wasn’t sure if he’d said something out loud or just in his head. I liked Junior and Henrietta. It was interesting seeing their lives. The book mostly takes place in their home, with only occasional jaunts to where they work or the fields outside their home. It gave the book a claustrophobic feeling. The book is set in the near future but the world is largely ignored. There are a few SF elements but the book mostly feels like a suspense novel. I figured out the ending around the half way point, but it was still interesting to see how the book would reveal what was really going on. It was also a quick read, which helped maintain the creepy mood. If you like books with mystery and a touch of horror, this is a good read.
  • (5/5)

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    Iain Reid stunned me with his last book, I'm Thinking of Ending Things. I couldn't wait to start reading his latest, Foe.I love the cover, the starry skies above, the isolated barn highlighted from above. But it's the skewed title word that had me wondering what I might find inside.What I found was a story I couldn't have imagined - one that took me only a day to devour.Set sometime in the future, Foe is the story of Junior and Hen, a married couple who live on an isolated property. One day Terrance, a government agent of some sort, arrives to let Junior know that he has been selected for the long list. What list? "For the Installation. .... You might even get to be part of the first move. The first wave. You might get to live up there." And to that end, Terrance begins to interview Junior over the course of the next couple of years. His interviews, measurements and diagnostics take a more intimate and intrusive path as they progress. And the final piece? He needn't worry - Hen won't be alone if he is chosen to go.For the reader, those interviews lets us have an inside look at their marriage. What builds a relationship? Memories? Plans for the future? Wants, desires, dreams? What is love? But still, there is something off with their interactions. Is Hen done with the marriage? Does she want something else for her life? Unsettling undertones are present in almost every conversation.And just like I'm Thinking of Ending Things, the final chapters of Foe will have you questioning everything you just read. And I have to say, I loved the turn things took on the last pages. Startling, but so fitting. Foe is another stellar read from Iain Reid - unusual, unexpected and finished too fast.

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  • (4/5)
    I requested this one from NetGalley as the description sounded quite freaky. While the writing did not quite live up to what I'd hoped for and was a bit chunky, the story did keep my interest until the end and I managed to read it in about a day. It's a very slow build up and gets creepy very slowly, but it was a decent read. I would recommend it to anyone who likes sci-fi and doesn't mind a slow burn. 3.5?(Thanks to NetGalley for this ebook in exchange for an honest review.)
  • (5/5)
    Junior and Henrietta are married and live on a farm. They enjoy their solitude. There are no neighbours, the city is far away, and they don't get visitors. Ever. So imagine their surprise when, not only do they get a visitor one night, but this visitor comes with the news that Junior has been randomly selected to travel very far away. Alone. No Henrietta. Arrangements have already been made and Hen will be left in good hands.

    I was SO excited when I found out Iain Reid was coming out with another book because I loved I'm Thinking of Ending Things SO much!! I was even more excited when I got my hands on an ARC. Just by looking at the cover you can tell it's going to be creepy and that something sinister is lurking in those pages. I loved everything about this book - Junior and Hen are real and they're living in an old house in the middle of nowhere. I couldn't imagine having to go through what they did. I couldn't get through this book fast enough. I couldn't wait to know exactly what was going on! Junior's frustration was palpable. Definitely a clever, thought-provoking, page-turner.

    Thank you to the author, Netgalley and Simon & Schuster Canada for an ARC.