Strungballs by Mike Russell

Rating: 3/5

Genre: Weird Fiction, Dystopian

Recommended Age: 18+. Sex is mentioned and described a bit, so if you’re allowed to read that then go ahead, but if not then don’t please.

Favorite Quote: “I will never wear one again.”

I was requested to read and review this book by Strangebooks Publishing Company. This did not influence my opinions.

Ever since the dawn of man there have been rites of ppassages that help transition young boys and girls into adulthood. Ten-year-old Sydney is about to experience his own rite of passage. He will be receiving his first Strungball. This will be his first of many Strungballs in his lifetime. To receive his Strungball though he must have a cube of flesh removed from his chest. The cube of flesh will travel and become apart of the wall that surrounds his city. When the procedure is over Sydney is supposed to be happy and good, but he can’t stop but wonder about why we need Strungballs and what happens if we pull them out of the Strungball recesses in our bodies. It is then Sydney discovers a deeper reason for needing them than could ever be imagined.

Can you fault a book that’s marketed as being strange? In my opinion, you can’t. While this little novella (66 pages in length) was a bit odd, it had a decent story to it. The overall story was very good. It was your average dystopian novel for the most part and it would have been a good introductory story for beginning dystopian readers had it not had some mature scenes in it towards the end. The quality of writing and plot development, although it got outlandish at the end, was very well done and it made the story enjoyable for the most part and the story was a very easy read. The story also seemed to be conveying a deeper meaning about how to remain true to oneself and to question everyday life.

However, this book had some issues in my opinion. I feel that whatever message the author was trying to convey became lost in the strangeness of the story. While I generally enjoyed it, towards the end I was wondering what the author could possibly be trying to say with the scenes. There were also some unnecessary scenes that, without them, would have made the story better. Some of the more mature scenes could have been left out and the book would have been adequate for younger audiences. In fact, for the first half of the book, I was thinking the book would have been marvelous for a high school or college English class. I could tell the author was trying to send some message and I believe the book to not only be of weird fiction but also a dystopian. If the book was just a bit clearer in the meaning I think it would have met it’s mark. The book also had some issues with pacing and characters. The pacing was very fast, even for a novella. I believe the author had more than enough material to slow down the scenes and have a full length novel if he wanted. I also think the characters needed a bit more explanation and back story. I kept wondering if I would get an explanation for how the city came to be and what motivated the characters to act as they did, but the explanations fell short in my opinion. I also had an issue with one of the scenes where there is bullying. If the characters have this idea of doing good, then why does bullying exist?

I’d recommend this book for any adults or children who are allowed to read mature material to read it. It’s a quick read and it was a decent book all in all.


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