The Gopher King by Gojan Nikolich

I have waited so long and piled up so many reviews, that I decided to work like I would in an English class. I am taking my read book covers as a prompt and going to think about and write about my reading experience whether I feel like it or not. It will be interesting to see what kind of results this will produce. It might even change my usual presentation style…this last part might be hoping for too much.

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It took me a while to get into the story, be it the plot or the concept. The writing was straightforward and humorous at times but also emotional, which helped ease me into this rather extraordinary blend of fantasy and reality.
It is not fantasy in the traditional sense of fiction; there is no unique worldbuilding with an intricate power dynamic. It is almost the ramblings of a mind under too much emotional stress and prescription drugs to battle PTSD. I say almost because the distinction is blurred: We have evidence of other people also seeing the ‘delusions’ of the main characters or at least the aftermath. Until the end of the book, I was torn about making up my mind about the context but finally decided I did not have to be a hundred per cent sure of anything!
Our lead protagonist is a grizzled ex-Vietnam vet who works in a small town for the local newspaper. He makes a trip to Vietnam at the beginning of the book, and we continue to get flashes of his time in the army and his painful, conflicted memories from that time. This provides fuel to his ongoing disconnect from the world around him.
We have a murder mystery, a corporate takeover and an arsonist thrown into the mix. The magical gophers play a role in almost all the branches of the main story. We get a form of closure towards the end of the book, which made me like the book more than I thought I would going in. If the book was shorter, even by a little bit (given the weight of the content), I would have enjoyed it more. As it stands, I had to take many breaks in order to finish it.
It is a complicated insight into a troubled mind of an essentially good person, and I would still recommend it to anyone who liked either my review of the blurb!
I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers, but the review is entirely based on my own reading experience.

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