Foe is another mind-bender from the master of misdirection. I really didn’t know what to think going into this one. It’s totally different from I’m Thinking of Ending Things. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still good, but very different. I’ve never read anything quite like Foe. I read this book back in January and couldn’t quite come up with a worthy book review until now. I didn’t know what to say about the book. It has sat with me every day since I finished reading it. Foe is a heavy read–I’m talking subject matter.
Foe is about a couple, Junior and Henrietta, who live out in the middle of nowhere. Something seems off kilter. And it’s this off balance feeling that sets the tone. It’s the uneasy feeling of not being entirely sure of what’s really happened and what’s going to happen. It seems like an apocalyptic world. Maybe even post-apocalyptic given the few details throughout the story. The book centers around the couple’s farmhouse and their relationship. Well, one day a mysterious man comes to the house to tell the husband that he’s been selected to journey into space to help work on the space station. You get a sense that the Earth is in its final stage, and that it will soon be uninhabitable.
Turns out, Henrietta will not be spending her days alone. Instead, she will be accompanied by the mysterious man. And while Junior is training for his mission, the mysterious man begins spending more time with Henrietta. Junior is very upset, as can be expected in that particular situation. Junior notices subtle changes with Henrietta. She becomes distant. They rarely talk anymore. Junior thinks Henrietta is cheating with the mysterious man. After all, the mysterious man has pretty much taken over Junior role–he’s spending a lot of time with Henrietta and he’s working in Junior’s position at the factory.
That’s when the author hits you with a brilliant twist. I didn’t see it coming. I closed the book and stared off into the distance for a long time before opening the book to finish reading. Iain Reid’s tight prose makes for quick reading, too. I sped through this one. It’s the perfect length at around 250 pages. Just the way I like my books–not too long and not too short. I got a little claustrophobic reading Foe because you are stuck with Junior on the farm. And it’s a very bizarre reading experience. I don’t really know how to explain it. This book kind of messed me up for a while–in a good way.
I kind of got into a review slump after reading this book. I didn’t know what to say about it, but I hope you read this one. It’s quirky. I guess you could consider it sci-fi. If you dig books that are off the beaten path, then Foe is the right read for you.
A taut, philosophical mind-bender from the bestselling author of I’m Thinking of Ending Things.
We don’t get visitors. Not out here. We never have.
In Iain Reid’s second haunting, philosophical puzzle of a novel, set in the near-future, Junior and Henrietta live a comfortable, solitary life on their farm, far from the city lights, but in close quarters with each other. One day, a stranger from the city arrives with alarming news: Junior has been randomly selected to travel far away from the farm…very far away. The most unusual part? Arrangements have already been made so that when he leaves, Henrietta won’t have a chance to miss him, because she won’t be left alone—not even for a moment. Henrietta will have company. Familiar company.
Told in Reid’s sharp and evocative style, Foe examines the nature of domestic relationships, self-determination, and what it means to be (or not to be) a person. An eerily entrancing page-turner, it churns with unease and suspense from the first words to its shocking finale.