Thursday, 8 December 2016

Versailles

Versailles is the home of the Baer family, a 100-room mega mansion built by the CEO of a prolific social media company. His daughter, Missy, has gone missing. She’s deleted her profile and gone off the grid. Her twin brother tries to track her down from inside his bedroom, a room with everything a boy could ever ask for.

Eyes forward, she took a picture with her mind for later, a blink against the sunlight streaming in the forward windshield.

Versailles has some good ideas but I just didn’t engage with the characters that much. It’s a bit surreal and I think this kind of writing can lead to the characters being more like playing pieces than actual living, breathing humans.

I think it would have said a lot more about the influence of online life if Missy hadn’t been chasing after a cult. She starts to cut down on her online life after watching a video of her favourite recording artist, one she doesn’t feel the need to share to her millions of followers. She wants to keep it just for herself. After she deletes her accounts she still sometimes thinks in terms of social media, what she would share, hashtags and framing pictures in her mind instead of on her phone. She keeps feeling the draw of it.

Stripped down, it’s about a struggling family. The mother feels dulled by the medication she is taking for an unspecified mental illness. The father seems controlling and manipulative, leaving the rest of the family to feel trapped in their multi-million-dollar mansion. It’s ambiguous whether the father is abusive or just over-protective, I didn’t really like the chapters at the end which was trying to add to his side of the story. Is it trying to say he’s just misunderstood?

The son never leaves his room and prefers to spend his time in the anonymity of online forums where he takes on different personas. He isn’t always trolling though, sometimes the characters he becomes are good people. He can be whoever he wants to be online. I got the feeling that the Baers were all very lonely people.

All those millions of followers and she hadn't posted anything in weeks... All those millions and she could count her real friends on one hand.

Yannick’s writing style has a lot of repetition that didn’t really work for me. I’m assuming the nanny is there as an outside perspective but it’s never really explained why she has nightmares, why she was fired. Is it just that the idea of this 100-room mansion with all its locked doors is frightening? Or is there something truly wrong with Casey? And then there's the poor, neglected monitor lizard roaming the corridors, which keeps cropping up. I just don’t think it was my cup of tea.

Versailles is published by Unbound and is available now in hardback and ebook editions. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review.

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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.

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