Wow, I'm a bit blown away by how bad this was. I almost didn't want to review it, since - contrary to my critics' opinions - I don't actually enjoy writing negative reviews for up and coming authors. But I feel obligated to point out to others what I didn't like, lest they be taken in by the blurb like I was and find themselves similarly disappointed.
First, I think it's really important that there are more books out there about sexual assault and rape because awareness is the first step to change. I've read some truly excellent books on the subject, like Laurie Halse Anderson's SPEAK; Courtney Summers's ALL THE RAGE, and if you're looking for nonfiction, Alice Sebold's utterly devastating memoir, LUCKY. I get that the goal of these books is to make the reader uncomfortable and sometimes that necessitates the inclusion of unsavory details, because to portray the absolute awfulness of the act, the author has to convey that on a sensory and psychological level. I get that, and when done well, it can be a truly powerful effect. I get that.
Second, I am not easily disgusted. I will read pretty much anything, from gritty Scandinavian thrillers to 70s bodice rippers, to memoirs about forensic science. Sometimes I'll feel a bit grossed out, but I've built up a fairly good tolerance over the years and it's hard to really, truly shock me. My only wish as a reader is that such content is used to establish some kind of point or purpose and not just for the sake of shock value. I feel that shock value is demeaning to one's audience, personally.
Third, I think sometimes people mistake "shock value" for "good content" and that is not necessarily the case. A book should not get praise for being disgusting. I see this a lot with the so-called dark erotica novels, and I'm sorry, but grossing people out does not making you daring and talented. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and sometimes a tasteless book is just that - tasteless.
The best thing about PEACH is the flattering blurb, which makes it sound like this book is going to be good. An experimental prose novel about a woman dealing with rape? That sounded promising. But PEACH is written in this really disgusting, nonsensical style that I think is supposed to be channeling writers like Bukowski or Joyce (if you believe that Kirkus review), but sounds more like a high school student trying to be "gritty" a la Ellen Hopkins. But failing. Miserably.
Here are some samples, in case you think I'm being overly harsh (from the ARC, not the final copy):
Thick stick sticky sticking wet ragged wool winding round the wounds, stitching the sliced skin together as I walk, scraping my mittened hand against the wall. Rough red bricks ripping the wool. Ripping the skin. Rough red skin. Rough red head (7).
Mam giggles and pinches Dad's cheek. It's okay, Peach. Sex is a good thing. Me and Mam do it all the time. We just did it now on the kitchen table (16).
And then I think about what went inside last night and it was a sausage and what if it got stuck, sticky, somehow there was a sperm inside that sausage and I will give birth to a litter of hot dogs? (40)
Rage still, rage, rage I could feed. I will feed. I will eat the fear, the loathsome offender. I will feed. Not breed, not brood. I will eat the food of fear. I will shit later and feel better (88).
Also, I'm not the biggest fan of trigger warnings (although I get how important they can be for the people who need them), but I am shocked that this book does not have at least some warnings because it is disgusting and graphic AF.
***SPOILERS & GROSS CONTENT DESCRIPTIONS TO FOLLOW***
After she is raped, she sews herself up DOWN THERE. It's an absolutely disgusting, cringe-worthy scene. And to make matters worse, she bloats up afterwards and becomes sickly, which I took to mean that her period, when it didn't come, was trapped inside.
BECAUSE SHE SEWED HERSELF UP.
I hope I am wrong about this, but I do not think I am because of what happens afterwards.
Also, one word: cannibalism
Yeah, this book was pretty horrible and actually ruined my day a little. I'm shocked at how many people are giving this good ratings, because I saw nothing of value in this book at all. It was gross and bad and tasteless, and I completely regret reading it. Had it been any longer, I would have cast it aside without reviewing, but it was short enough that I forced myself to endure. I appreciate what this book was trying to do, and again would like to emphasize the importance of people telling such stories, but there are much better books out there discussing the same topic that aren't so revolting.
Thanks to Netgalley/the publisher for the review copy!
1 out of 5 stars