Saturday, November 26

Book Review: The Antagonist

Title: The Antagonist

Author: Lynn Coady

Pages: EBook (Approx 257)

Summary: Against his will and his nature, the hulking Gordon Rankin ("Rank") is cast as an enforcer, a goon -- by his classmates, his hockey coaches, and especially his own "tiny, angry" father, Gordon Senior. Rank gamely lives up to his role -- until tragedy strikes, using Rank as its blunt instrument. Escaping the only way he can, Rank disappears. But almost twenty years later he discovers that an old, trusted friend -- the only person to whom he has ever confessed his sins -- has published a novel mirroring Rank's life. The betrayal cuts to the deepest heart of him, and Rank will finally have to confront the tragic true story from which he's spent his whole life running away.

With the deep compassion, deft touch, and irreverent humour that have made her one of Canada's best-loved novelists, Lynn Coady delves deeply into the ways we sanction and stoke male violence, giving us a large-hearted, often hilarious portrait of a man tearing himself apart in order to put himself back together.

My Rating: 7/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I started off not enjoying the book, as the protagonist came off as bitter and angry, which I grew tired o quickly, but eventually I began to see a different side of the story, while I never truely enjoyed the main character, I eventually enjoyed the story and how well the author carried it through.

The character, Rank, is one I found hard to like. He had a troubled past, and a lot of hardships growing up, but he is also such an bitter and angry person, it seeps off the pages. Originally I found it off-putting, but once I read further into the book, I found it worked for the character, the author did a great job at shaping out this character into someone very believable and at times complex.

The writing was also well done, the author did a fantastic job at pulling off how the story was told, a series of Emails ( and at time rants) as the character attempts to write a book about himself to an old friend. This was something that may not have worked, but the author pulled it off wonderfully. I also enjoyed some of the witty comments and interactions between the characters, once I got past my initial issues with Rank, I was able to see the author's style of writing more clearly. Overall a good read, I had issues with it, especially connecting to the character, but I can appreciate what the author did, and she executed her story quite nicely.

Would I recommend it to read: I think I would. Like I said above, I did have some issues, but I think there are a lot of readers out there would really connect to Rank.

What to read next: This is off the Giller short list, so the other Giller shortlisted books of 2011 (The Cat's Table, Free World, Better Living Through Plastic Explosives, Half-Blood Blues, The Sisters Brother)

Challenges: 11 in 11, 100+ Challenge, Canadian Reading Challenge 5


  1. He is a difficult character, I agree. But I loved what she managed to construct with his voice and the way in which his story gradually comes out. I really found the implications about the dimensions of their relationship, that came out in the final pages, an interesting touch.

  2. This book seems different than any that I have read before, and sounds like something that I might like to check out. I probably would have also been annoyed at the anger issues and angst, but it sounds like that plays itself out and gets better as the book goes on. Great review today, Jules! I am adding this one to my list!

  3. I really want to read this because I have enjoyed Lynn Coady in the past. I haven't had a chance to get to it yet.

  4. Buried in Print - She did do a great job at constructing his voice, no argument there. Why the book was given a higher rating than I originally thought it would.

    Zibilee - I think you would enjoy the book, he doesn't come off angsty, just angry. He does have his reason, I hope you get a chance to read it.

    Kailana - I haven't read the author before, but I think I may try her again. Any recommendations?