book review

Eleven by Mark Watson

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Xavier Ireland is a radio DJ who by night listens to the hopes, fears and regrets of sleepless Londoners and by day keeps himself very much to himself – until he is brought into the light by a one-of-a-kind cleaning lady and forced to confront his own biggest regret.

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Okay, so, this one started really slow for me. Like I’ll read two pages, put it down, and start again the next day. The story finally picks up after two chapters or maybe three. It is about DJ Xavier Ireland (yeah, it’s not his real name), who is an Australian but left his home country to start fresh in London. Why start fresh, you’d ask? Well, something obviously happened to him in Australia that made it hard for him to stay there and face everyone he knows. It was too much that he decided to leave home and head to London, together with his new name and start a new life. The reason was not revealed until about half of the book, so it keeps me guessing the whole time. And come revelation time, it was not what I expected at all. It is heartbreaking. I totally understand Xavier for wanting to leave everything behind. Anyway, years after, Xavier become somewhat popular in London for his late night radio show where he listens to his listener’s problems and gives them advice. Then, one winter day, Xavier witnessed a bunch of teens beating up one kid. He attempted, feebly, to intervene but was not successful and as much as felt guilty about it, he immediately forgot about the incident. What he didn’t know was that incident affect not only the kid who was bullied but a lot more of people and resulting in a chain of events until finally ending with Xavier himself.

Eleven explores the idea that one action of a person, no matter how big or small, can create consequences that affect great deal of people. Eleven people, to be exact, who is connected in some way. A chain reaction occurred. It is my first Mark Watson novel I read and it is such a delight. The book is funny and sad at times, in a realistic kind of way. The ending is shocking and I really don’t know what to make of it. After a few consideration, I weighed it is just fitting. It is hard to get into it without revealing what happened, though. There may be a lot of characters but it is not so hard to keep up with them. The transition between characters is well done and not confusing. Of course, Xavier as the main character is the focus of the story. His story is intriguing and I can’t help but sympathize with him. But there are few secondary characters, with their own struggles and stories, which marks, too. From Xavier’s best friend to his set of callers, his neighbors and even the others he didn’t meet but was affected by the domino of events Xavier started. I personally like the attitude of Pippa, the girl Xavier met in a speed dating event he went to and she ends up being his cleaner. She then became a positive influence in Xavier’s life that led him to confront his past. She’s one remarkable character in the story and definitely is my favorite I’d say.  

Eleven is a really good and fast-paced book. It is well-written plus the plot is interesting. The story is engaging, believable and realistic enough. I didn’t expect much from it but glad I picked it up on one of our library visits. Yes, it is overall a sad book, but what I like is that everything revolves around people’s everyday lives. I like that no matter how unrelated those people are, their lives intersect and impacted each other in ways they are not even aware of. Just like what happens in reality. It’s the type of book that makes you wonder about the things you do/say and did not do/say in life and how it affects people you don’t even know. That being said, I’d say it’s worth your while to try and read this book.  

RATING: 4 out of 5

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(*Photos and synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

Purchase it on Amazon.com: Eleven by Mark Watson

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