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Rachel-K
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Later Chapters, Whole Novel

Please use this thread to discuss your ideas about the whole novel. Beware, all spoilers are fine here!
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IBIS
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Re: Later Chapters, Whole Novel

[ Edited ]
I finished the novel late last night, and felt as I usually do after a ride on my favorite roller coaster ride... whoozy... dizzy... flushed... with a relentlessly hammering heartbeat...

But ultimately exhilaratingly happy to be coming out of the experience in one piece.

The overall mood of paranoia in the book made me feel anxious at every turn. One reason that I enjoy thrillers is that I know it's only a book... I am safe in my bed at home... I am not jam-packed into a sluggish train on its way to a prison in Siberia... no crazed serial killer will jump out of the pages to disembowel me... I am surrounded by the creature comforts of 21st Century America...

After I closed the book, the metaphor of smoke and mirrors stayed with me... that things, and people, are not what they appear to be... as in a magician's act.

In the novel, people are told things that turn out not to be true... the MGB attempt to blind people to what is really there... there is no crime; murders do not happen, they are only accidents. And if there are murders, they have been committed by crazed foreigners who are corrupted by the West... the people we trust live in disguise, and those we mistrust are sometimes the very ones who will act in our best interests.

For example, ....Ivan, Raisa's "friend" who turns out to be a spy and betrays her trust... the villagers who are falsely accused of the murders, and are executed by the State merely to serve as window-dressing... Leo's loving "parents" who initially kidnapped Leo as a child in order to kill him...

... On the other hand, their counterparts... the villagers whom Leo initially dismissed as paralyzed by cowardice, prove themselves to be courageous, and save his life... the train passengers who cover up their escape, risking their own lives... the driver of the wagon who drove them through the dangerous kilometers to Rostov...

The book is peopled by characters who change their colors so that whenever a new character was introduced... Like General Nesterov... my first reaction was, "Is he friend or foe?"

I guess the overall mood of paranoia settled over me on every page I read. I drew a breath of relief when it ended on a very positive note.

IBIS

Message Edited by IBIS on 06-06-2008 12:14 PM
IBIS

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Re: Later Chapters, Whole Novel



IBIS wrote:
I finished the novel late last night, and felt as I usually do after a ride on my favorite roller coaster ride... whoozy... dizzy... flushed... with a relentlessly hammering heartbeat...

But ultimately exhilaratingly happy to be coming out of the experience in one piece.

The overall mood of paranoia in the book made me feel anxious at every turn. One reason that I enjoy thrillers is that I know it's only a book... I am safe in my bed at home... I am not jam-packed into a sluggish train on its way to a prison in Siberia... no crazed serial killer will jump out of the pages to disembowel me... I am surrounded by the creature comforts of 21st Century America...

After I closed the book, the metaphor of smoke and mirrors stayed with me... that things, and people, are not what they appear to be... as in a magician's act.

In the novel, people are told things that turn out not to be true... the MGB attempt to blind people to what is really there... there is no crime; murders do not happen, they are only accidents. And if there are murders, they have been committed by crazed foreigners who are corrupted by the West... the people we trust live in disguise, and those we mistrust are sometimes the very ones who will act in our best interests.

For example, ....Ivan, Raisa's "friend" who turns out to be a spy and betrays her trust... the villagers who are falsely accused of the murders, and are executed by the State merely to serve as window-dressing... Leo's loving "parents" who initially kidnapped Leo as a child in order to kill him...

... On the other hand, their counterparts... the villagers whom Leo initially dismissed as paralyzed by cowardice, prove themselves to be courageous, and save his life... the train passengers who cover up their escape, risking their own lives... the driver of the wagon who drove them through the dangerous kilometers to Rostov...

The book is peopled by characters who change their colors so that whenever a new character was introduced... Like General Nesterov... my first reaction was, "Is he friend or foe?"

I guess the overall mood of paranoia settled over me on every page I read. I drew a breath of relief when it ended on a very positive note.

IBIS

Message Edited by IBIS on 06-06-2008 12:14
PM





I didn't realize you were reading it at the same time as posting. I think a couple of the readers on this discussion board are doing a similar thing. It must be a very different reading experience.

I'm very pleased you enjoyed the ending. In my reply to your other post I explain, indirectly, why ending on a positive note, an uplifting beat, was so important to me. This is a story about people struggling for light in a dark world. Whether this makes me sentimental or not, I couldn't create a world where they didn't manage to find it. It felt wrong to me. It felt like an intellect cheat, as though I were falling back on misery to try and gain creative credibility.

Perhaps snatching that dream from that might have seemed like something "life" might do, but people do find a way through, and in the end that was the path I wanted my characters to take.


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Re: Later Chapters, Whole Novel

Ibis!
 
Can you imagine what those childhood dreams of Leo's must have been like?
 
We go through some brutal realizations of what many of the characters (even sympathetic characters) are capable of!
 
Is the State to be considered the biggest serial killer? And the men who worked for the state?
 
And in that context, the ability for many to be outraged, to demand justice, to risk being generous and to want to help--all seems outlandishly daring and hopeful!
 
A wonderful and awful aspect of the novel is how it sometimes pushed me to feel morally unsure of myself--the "what would I do" questions somehow hit very hard in this reading. Did you think so?
 
 
 
 
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IBIS
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Re: Later Chapters, Whole Novel

[ Edited ]

rkubie wrote:
Ibis!

Can you imagine what those childhood dreams of Leo's must have been like?
We go through some brutal realizations of what many of the characters (even sympathetic characters) are capable of!

Is the State to be considered the biggest serial killer? And the men who worked for the state?

And in that context, the ability for many to be outraged, to demand justice, to risk being generous and to want to help--all seems outlandishly daring and hopeful!

A wonderful and awful aspect of the novel is how it sometimes pushed me to feel morally unsure of myself--the "what would I do" questions somehow hit very hard in this reading. Did you think so?





Hi Rachel, I know what you mean about the wonder-ful/aw-ful aspect that this story pushes us, the reader, to feel... "what would I do under such circumstances"...

I've talked with people who have chosen not to continue reading CHILD 44 precisely for the reasons that attracted me to it in the first place... killing pets during famine... living with the insane "logic" of the State... reading graphic details about cold-blooded murders by Andrei, the serial killer, as well as Vasili, and others of his ilk...

It makes me wonder what my attraction to this "dark" story means?

It leaves many questions unanswered... are my friends who cannot bear reading about such suffering more sensitive than I? More empathetic? Kinder?

Does reading this story make ME cold-hearted, unfeeling, about the misery of the characters?

Much food for thought.

IBIS

Message Edited by IBIS on 06-08-2008 12:08 AM
IBIS

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Re: Later Chapters, Whole Novel



rkubie wrote:
Ibis!


Can you imagine what those childhood dreams of Leo's must have been like?


We go through some brutal realizations of what many of the characters (even sympathetic characters) are capable of!


Is the State to be considered the biggest serial killer? And the men who worked for the state?


And in that context, the ability for many to be outraged, to demand justice, to risk being generous and to want to help--all seems outlandishly daring and hopeful!


A wonderful and awful aspect of the novel is how it sometimes pushed me to feel morally unsure of myself--the "what would I do" questions somehow hit very hard in this reading. Did you think so?










Leo's dreams! You're right... I actually spent quite a long time thinking about them, trying to work out what Leo would dream. He has a lot buried very deep down, glimpses of his troubled past would almost certainly break through during those dreams.


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Re: Later Chapters, Whole Novel

[ Edited ]
Once again I submitted instead of quoting... let me try again... I clearly need a cup of tea.

Message Edited by Tom_Rob_Smith on 06-08-2008 05:11 AM


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Re: Later Chapters, Whole Novel



IBIS wrote:

rkubie wrote:
Ibis!

Can you imagine what those childhood dreams of Leo's must have been like?
We go through some brutal realizations of what many of the characters (even sympathetic characters) are capable of!

Is the State to be considered the biggest serial killer? And the men who worked for the state?

And in that context, the ability for many to be outraged, to demand justice, to risk being generous and to want to help--all seems outlandishly daring and hopeful!

A wonderful and awful aspect of the novel is how it sometimes pushed me to feel morally unsure of myself--the "what would I do" questions somehow hit very hard in this reading. Did you think so?





Hi Rachel, I know what you mean about the wonder-ful/aw-ful aspect that this story pushes us, the reader, to feel... "what would I do under such circumstances"...

I've talked with people who have chosen not to continue reading CHILD 44 precisely for the reasons that attracted me to it in the first place... killing pets during famine... living with the insane "logic" of the State... reading graphic details about cold-blooded murders by Andrei, the serial killer, as well as Vasili, and others of his ilk...

It makes me wonder what my attraction to this "dark" story means?

It leaves many questions unanswered... are my friends who cannot bear reading about such suffering more sensitive than I? More empathetic? Kinder?

Does reading this story make ME cold-hearted, unfeeling, about the misery of the characters?

Much food for thought.

IBIS

Message Edited by IBIS on 06-08-2008 12:08 AM





I think the question "what would I do in these circumstances?" is central to any kind of fiction. We're always putting ourselves into a character's situation. Would we fall in love like that, with that person? Would we steal that money? Would we leave our job and go off an a wild adventure? Movies in particular often posit a central question, sometimes very explicitly. Would you sleep with someone for a million dollars - I think that question was even on the poster for INDECENT PROPOSAL. It brings us into the world, it integrates us.

In the case of CHILD 44, I didn't need to fabricate those questions. They were being asked of all our characters, all of the time. I merely tapped into them.

As for sensitivity and empathy... everyone reacts differently, I'm not sure how much you can read into it. However, I have had readers told me that even though they found some scenes difficult they were really glad they pushed through. In fact, there is very little on the page violence. Most of it is imagined, or we cut just before it happens.


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Re: Later Chapters, Whole Novel

One literary technique that I found extremely elegant at the end of the book bears mentioning... the bookend-construction of the siblings...

In the beginning of the story, the brothers, Pavel and Andrei... devoted to each other. Their bond is forged by the struggle to survive; they rely on each other in the face of a single mother whose sanity is questionable.

At the end of the book, the sisters, Zoya and Elena... whose parents are shot before their eyes. They have only each other, they become wardens of the State, and are forced into the orphanage.

I found the parallel structure of Leo and Raisa reaching out to the sisters very elegant.

IBIS
IBIS

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Re: Later Chapters, Whole Novel



IBIS wrote:
One literary technique that I found extremely elegant at the end of the book bears mentioning... the bookend-construction of the siblings...

In the beginning of the story, the brothers, Pavel and Andrei... devoted to each other. Their bond is forged by the struggle to survive; they rely on each other in the face of a single mother whose sanity is questionable.

At the end of the book, the sisters, Zoya and Elena... whose parents are shot before their eyes. They have only each other, they become wardens of the State, and are forced into the orphanage.

I found the parallel structure of Leo and Raisa reaching out to the sisters very elegant.

IBIS




Those two girls are at the very heart of the second book. It's all about Leo and Raisa's attempt to be parents to these girls. However, Leo was involved in the death of their real parents and so the relationship is fraught... that's all I can say. But Zoya particularly, the older girl, she becomes a fantastic new character.


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Re: Later Chapters, Whole Novel



IBIS wrote:
One literary technique that I found extremely elegant at the end of the book bears mentioning... the bookend-construction of the siblings...

In the beginning of the story, the brothers, Pavel and Andrei... devoted to each other. Their bond is forged by the struggle to survive; they rely on each other in the face of a single mother whose sanity is questionable.

At the end of the book, the sisters, Zoya and Elena... whose parents are shot before their eyes. They have only each other, they become wardens of the State, and are forced into the orphanage.

I found the parallel structure of Leo and Raisa reaching out to the sisters very elegant.

IBIS




I should also add that I always saw the final hug, at the end of CHILD 44, as being highly ambiguous. They're not happy. Zoya is basically saying to Elena, we're in a fix, we have a difficult choice ahead of us, but we're going to make it together no matter what we decide.

That tension is very much the emotional engine of the second book....


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Re: Later Chapters, Whole Novel

I just finished the book today--before my eye surgery on Wed!!!!!
 
At points the tension in the book became so real for me that I had to put it aside for awhile.It was almost like it was burning my hand!..........
 
The other posts have been wonderfully perceptive on the literary structure, characters, etc. of the book.  I am intrigued, however,  by the case on which this was partially based.  How was it finally settled?  Did the authorities ever acknowledge what was going on?  Was there a person(s) who seeing the relatioinship among the murders actually tried to link them and seek justice as did Leo and Raisa?
 
rosie
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Re: Later Chapters, Whole Novel

I did not read the final chapters as necessarily positive--perhaps this says something about my cynical nature.  They certainly were more positive than the rest of the book, but relatively so.
 
On page 426 we are left with a vision of Nadya staring at Leo, with her "father's fury in her eyes."  Also, we are told here in this thread that the ending of the story is ambiguous with the two children whose father Leo was responsible for killing placed in the position of having to decide whether to have Raisa and Leo become their guardians.  Are children that age even capable of such things?  The alternative is so awful one could hardly believe it would be chosen.
 
And the homicide unit and Leo himself.  How will he live with what he has done?  The deaths he is responsible for?  The numerous arrests?  The tortues?  Is his awakening to the horror of these going to rip his psyche?  Can he accept himself? 
 
Will the new homicide unit have any freedom?  Are the new bosses just more of the same?
 
Yet there is an acknowledgement of reality--reality at least as seen by the characters and the beautiful love story of Raisa and Leo.
 
What does anyone else think?
 
As I said, I am a bit of a cynic but I do wonder about the ambiguity of not just the hug between the girls.
 
rosie
 
 
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Re: Later Chapters, Whole Novel



ROSIE wrote:
I did not read the final chapters as necessarily positive--perhaps this says something about my cynical nature. They certainly were more positive than the rest of the book, but relatively so.
On page 426 we are left with a vision of Nadya staring at Leo, with her "father's fury in her eyes." Also, we are told here in this thread that the ending of the story is ambiguous with the two children whose father Leo was responsible for killing placed in the position of having to decide whether to have Raisa and Leo become their guardians. Are children that age even capable of such things? The alternative is so awful one could hardly believe it would be chosen.
And the homicide unit and Leo himself. How will he live with what he has done? The deaths he is responsible for? The numerous arrests? The tortues? Is his awakening to the horror of these going to rip his psyche? Can he accept himself?
Will the new homicide unit have any freedom? Are the new bosses just more of the same?
Yet there is an acknowledgement of reality--reality at least as seen by the characters and the beautiful love story of Raisa and Leo.
What does anyone else think?
As I said, I am a bit of a cynic but I do wonder about the ambiguity of not just the hug between the girls.
rosie





I don't think you're cynical, I think you're exactly right - there are huge question marks over the future for Leo, indeed, all the characters. They're the reason I was always so excited about doing a second book, so much needed answering.

I think the upbeat nature of the ending comes from the implication that no matter what the future throws at Leo, he's going to try and do the right thing. That I certainly believe in. However, it will not be easy for him.

I'm speaking here with the second book bubbling in my mind.


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Re: Later Chapters, Whole Novel



ROSIE wrote:
I just finished the book today--before my eye surgery on Wed!!!!!
At points the tension in the book became so real for me that I had to put it aside for awhile.It was almost like it was burning my hand!..........
The other posts have been wonderfully perceptive on the literary structure, characters, etc. of the book. I am intrigued, however, by the case on which this was partially based. How was it finally settled? Did the authorities ever acknowledge what was going on? Was there a person(s) who seeing the relatioinship among the murders actually tried to link them and seek justice as did Leo and Raisa?
rosie





Firstly let me say all the best with the surgery tomorrow!

I'm very pleased you enjoyed the book. In answer to your questions, the real killer was caught after a ten year span and was tried and executed for his crimes. You can see the real event time line at www.child44book.com

The real events were set in 1980 when society was much freer. There had been other serial killers before this one. The detectives were still limited by various prejudices, in my view, and they made some terrible errors, but they weren't under anywhere near the same pressure as the investigation in my story.


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Re: Later Chapters, Whole Novel

[ Edited ]


Tom_Rob_Smith wrote:
I should also add that I always saw the final hug, at the end of CHILD 44, as being highly ambiguous. They're not happy. Zoya is basically saying to Elena, we're in a fix, we have a difficult choice ahead of us, but we're going to make it together no matter what we decide.

That tension is very much the emotional engine of the second book....

What a privilege to have an author tell us so much about a work in progress... your generosity amazes me.
It's unlike the secretive creative processes of other artists...  Woody Allen and Steven Spielberg come to mind....

 
How wonderful to hear that there is a sequel to CHILD 44... I wondered, as many of your other readers did as well, about the girls Zoya and Elena.... how  their adoption will be fraught with emotional uncertainty ....
 
And I'm looking forward to getting to know more about Leo and Raisa...
 
Is there a way to speed up the publication process? Next year is so far away.
 
IBIS


Message Edited by IBIS on 06-10-2008 03:49 PM
IBIS

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Re: Later Chapters, Whole Novel

[ Edited ]
I keep pressing submit instead of quote...

Message Edited by Tom_Rob_Smith on 06-10-2008 05:18 PM


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Re: Later Chapters, Whole Novel



IBIS wrote:


Tom_Rob_Smith wrote:
I should also add that I always saw the final hug, at the end of CHILD 44, as being highly ambiguous. They're not happy. Zoya is basically saying to Elena, we're in a fix, we have a difficult choice ahead of us, but we're going to make it together no matter what we decide.

That tension is very much the emotional engine of the second book....

What a privilege to have an author tell us so much about a work in progress... your generosity amazes me.
It's unlike the secretive creative processes of other artists... Woody Allen and Steven Spielberg come to mind....

How wonderful to hear that there is a sequel to CHILD 44... I wondered, as many of your other readers did as well, about the girls Zoya and Elena.... how their adoption will be fraught with emotional uncertainty ....
And I'm looking forward to getting to know more about Leo and Raisa...
Is there a way to speed up the publication process? Next year is so far away.
IBIS


Message Edited by IBIS on 06-10-2008 03:49 PM




I was going to say the same about your wonderful quotes IBIS! It's been a pleasure talking to you, indeed, everyone on the forum so far, so I don't feel all that generous. But if it seems generous, I'm fine with that too.

As for movie secrecy, well, those guys have real problems with the entire scripts ending up online. They have to go to extreme lengths to try and protect our two hours in the cinema, otherwise everything is known before the movie is even released. I'm kind of with them on that. I've even stopped reading reviews of movies because too much of the plot is given away, I find. I'd rather know as little as possible, which is difficult, since the movie has to be "sold".

One of the best trailers I've even seen was for JURASSIC PARK. It was just the block of amber, the mosquito, going closer and closer. I bought my ticket right there!

I don't have quite the same problem....


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Re: Whole Novel

Its just one of those days
When you don't wanna wake up
Everything is .......
Everybody sux
You don't really know why

Having one of those days? You are on the verge of starvation. You have already eaten any rodents, bugs, and leather that is available. You find yourself chewing on dirt, sticks, and even a piece of furniture. Your father left to look for food and never returned. Your mother sends you out in sub-zero temperatures to catch a scrawny cat for dinner, and instead your brother is taken. Your mother tells you someone will eat him. Not quite that bad? What’s your definition of a bad day?

No human contact
And if you interact
Your life is on contract
Your best bet is to stay away ......
It's just one of those days

Bad day at the office? No loyalty? Telling your co-worker that your son has been murdered is not allowed, because it is the official stance of your country - that murder doesn’t happen. To pursue the truth will only result in you and your family being hunted, tortured, and if you’re fortunate, being executed. No? Maybe your day at the office wasn’t that bad after all.

It’s all about the he says she says bull....
I think you better quit
Lettin' sh... slip
Or you'll be leavin with a fat lip

Family is just letting you down? Your parents advise you to turn in your spouse, to possibly save them and yourself. Three lives for one. The country you’ve dedicated your life to is now testing your loyalty. You really don’t know who might say what to bring an end to all you’ve worked for, and your life. And, there are some fates worse than death. That’s not what’s happening with your family? Maybe they’re not so bad after all.

Reading Tom Rob Smith’s, Child 44, will probably change your definition of a bad day. His book is based on extensive research on the lives led by those in Soviet Russia in the mid 1900s. His book is an awesomely written thriller. You may not want to know the truth of these times, but will not be able to stop reading. Don’t be afraid either - it’s not all darkness.

Lyrics in italic, Break Stuff, by Limp Bizkit

tgem

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Re: Whole Novel

Oops!  Lost my ability to edit my post.  Let me change the very end of it.
 


tgem wrote:

Its just one of those days
When you don't wanna wake up
Everything is .......
Everybody sux
You don't really know why

Having one of those days? You are on the verge of starvation. You have already eaten any rodents, bugs, and leather that is available. You find yourself chewing on dirt, sticks, and even a piece of furniture. Your father left to look for food and never returned. Your mother sends you out in sub-zero temperatures to catch a scrawny cat for dinner, and instead your brother is taken. Your mother tells you someone will eat him. Not quite that bad? What’s your definition of a bad day?

No human contact
And if you interact
Your life is on contract
Your best bet is to stay away ......
It's just one of those days

Bad day at the office? No loyalty? Telling your co-worker that your son has been murdered is not allowed, because it is the official stance of your country - that murder doesn’t happen. To pursue the truth will only result in you and your family being hunted, tortured, and if you’re fortunate, being executed. No? Maybe your day at the office wasn’t that bad after all.

It’s all about the he says she says bull....
I think you better quit
Lettin' sh... slip
Or you'll be leavin with a fat lip

Family is just letting you down? Your parents advise you to turn in your spouse, to possibly save them and yourself. Three lives for one. The country you’ve dedicated your life to is now testing your loyalty. You really don’t know who might say what to bring an end to all you’ve worked for, and your life. And, there are some fates worse than death. That’s not what’s happening with your family? Maybe they’re not so bad after all.

The scenerios above come from Tom Rob Smith’s, Child 44.  Reading it will probably change your definition of a bad day. His book is based on extensive research on the lives led by those in Soviet Russia in the mid 1900s. His book is an awesomely written thriller. You may not want to know the truth of these times, but will not be able to stop reading. Don’t be afraid either - it’s not all darkness.

Lyrics in italic, Break Stuff, by Limp Bizkit

tgem




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