I should start off my first proper review (!!!) by stating that I often get distracted by nice book covers, and I am a very picky reader — I don't like spending necessary time & money reading books / things I will not enjoy (which explains my horrible grades back in high school), so I will usually trawl through the internet to see if there's anything interesting (while avoiding spoilers; very tricky).
I was pleasantly surprised when I stumbled upon The Silent History
at the bookstore (I really liked the cover), and found myself tearing through the first few chapters on the spot without googling a single bit about it. As luck would have it I didn't have enough money in my wallet that day, so I went back a few days later and bought it home.
Here's some background information: The Silent History started off as an award-winning iphone / ipad app
released in late 2012, with downloadable installments and interactive features, such as location-specific content. The paperback edition was released in June this year, and as you can probably tell, the content in the interactive features are not included (where's the fun in that?). I don't own an iphone / ipad so I can't really say much about that aspect of the original, but from what I've read online it's pretty intriguing; download it if you can! For now, the paperback shall entertain me.
As mentioned above, I really liked the front cover — the title, handwritten and set within the white blocks, along with the subtle debossed lines, make a rather interesting combination, like filling in the blanks, which is essentially a huge part of the plot: how do you get through to people who do not possess the ability to communicate verbally?
The Silent History is told from a set of testimonials spanning from 2011 to 2044, and begins with a spike in children born without the ability to speak — as a result, these children don't learn to read and write (they're pretty much illiterate
), so testimonials are told from the point of view of the families, friends, impostors, researchers, etc. Truth to be told when I first read the blurb at the back I was nearly convinced that the events that took place within The Silent History actually happened; if it weren't for the year stated in the prologue I would have been fooled. As it turns out, the part of the human brain in silents where speech & language is processed is completely dead, and you have doctors and other people racing to solve the issue, but is the inability to process language even a problem in the first place?
I like how the testimonials are spread over 33 years; it allows the story to develop at a pretty comfortable pace instead of cramming it within a few years. You get to observe the silent children transforming to adulthood, and starting silent families of their own, while society slowly adapts around their presence, but then shifts abruptly from reluctant acceptance to rejection and fear.
Since there are a number of characters narrating their testimonials, you can see how the three different authors come into play — it would be pretty tough to pull off all the different characters if it were just one of them writing the entire story. There are a handful of recurring characters that serve as the backbone of the story, and it was interesting seeing them develop as the story moves along. Parts of these characters' monologues are just heart-achingly beautiful — a father whose every move to form a closer bond with his silent daughter simply serves to push her away, an imposter who wonders what it would be like to be one of them, and the teacher who pays a little too much attention to her silent students.
Overall, I really enjoyed The Silent History. The only thing I didn't like was how abrupt the ending was — it left a couple of questions unanswered, but don't let that discourage you from reading it though! I hope this ~*review*~ wasn't too rambly and made you want to read the book (:
Labels: books, fiction