Book Review: Broadcast, by Liam Brown

Publisher:  Legend Press

Publication date:  15th September 2017

Broadcast is a riotous victory for speculative live entertainment, delivering a sleek, alternative diversion for our appreciation. A streaming theatre without the prospect of an intermission becomes mind-cabaret for the masses, an innovation giving new meaning to the phrase ‘airing’ your thoughts.

Little by little our daily habits are already scrutinised, analysed and harvested until often they no longer feel like our own. With the rise of social media, You Tube, and Reality TV, the brave among us embrace this prospect when they volunteer to publicise moments of their daily routine in the name of recreation for a devoted audience. Staged bed hair and carefully placed brand placement is perfectly edited to present a censored version of their personality before any footage is Broadcast.

You’d think this kind of attention alone would feel intrusive. Yet the stars of these channels are the custodians of their own content and commercial destiny. They perform for their viewers, their ratings soar, along with potential advertising prospects.

I would imagine that maintaining that level of admiration would be exhausting, as YouTube star David Callow discovers. So when he is offered the opportunity that exceeds all others he jumps at the chance, as his current wavering success is no match for the possibilities of MindCast. Now anyone can tune in to see, hear and share the constant traffic of his thoughts 24/7, experiencing the unedited essence of David Callow, every silent judgement, aspiration, and caffeine craving now amplified.

Surely our minds should be the last frontier, even if the only protection that stands between social etiquette and oblivion is our mouth. But what if that were bypassed? Every reckless thought could escape into the wild – just think of all that uninhibited chaos your celebrity brain could cause!

This unhealthy brainchild is triggered by six rapid bursts of narration. The first is narrated in the third person until David steps into the spotlight to bare his soul for the remainder, and quite rightly so as he is the unique host after all. The story develops convincingly as the inclusion of ‘Plutchik’s Wheel’ (a scientific colour-code that classifies our primary emotions – yep, it’s an actual thing) shows how David’s initial thoughts were born as an embarrassing assortment of publicly identifiable hues before MindCast’s vision takes hold.

Not only is this book highly imaginative, it’s also one of my favourite reads this year. Terrific stuff!

Rating:  5/5

(My thanks to Tom Chalmers and Imogen Harris of Legend Press who kindly sent the advanced copy of this title. It is my absolute pleasure to provide an unbiased review.)

PLUTCHIK’S WHEEL

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

The idea behind MindCast is simple. We insert a small chip into your skull and then every thought, every feeling, every memory is streamed live, twenty-four hours a day. Trust me – within a few months you’ll be the most talked about person on the planet.

When David Callow is offered the lead role in a revolutionary new online show, he snatches at the opportunity.

Rapidly becoming a viral sensation, David is propelled to stratospheric levels of celebrity. However, he soon realises the downside of sharing every secret with the world.

A prisoner to both his fame and his own thoughts, David seeks to have the chip removed, only to discover the chilling secret lurking at the heart of MindCast, and the terrifying ambition the show’s creator has for him.

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(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

Liam Brown is a writer, filmmaker and former-life model. His debut novel Real Monsters was published in 2015, and was followed by Wild Life in 2016; both were long-listed for the Guardian‘s Not the Booker prize. He lives in Birmingham with his wife and two children.

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Blog Tour Book Review: Wild Life by Liam Brown #WildLife #Legend100

To say I am overjoyed to be kicking off Liam Brown’s #WildLife blog tour today would be an understatement, as I have book love galore for Wild Life! This incredible treasure was published yesterday and now it’s my great pleasure to be able to release my humble review into the wild…

Publisher:  Legend Press   |   Publication Date:  13th June 2016

Wild Life My Review

Wild Life by Liam Brown - Kindle CoverHow to go from civilised to feral in just a couple of hundred pages…

Yep. It’s a Wild Life indeed for Adam. Once upon a time he lived in the dog-eat-dog world of high flying sales executives, until his career and its relentless entertainment schedule finally turned its back on him. When his gambling debts spiralled out of control and his recreational drug use became habitual, he stepped out of his front door with just the clothes on his back to contemplate how his life went so badly wrong.

During his impromptu walkabout, Adam stumbles upon a hidden world just a stone’s throw away from society. While society minds its own business, this primitive place embraces him, warts and all.

Except this exclusive place doesn’t feature ‘Eve’. Nope, Adam’s wife, Lydia, is back at home with his children and is none the wiser as to his whereabouts. Would they think less of him when they learn what a major disappointment he was professionally and personally, or that he’s now residing in an undiscovered and somewhat unconventional haven for a chorus of weather-beaten folks with histories not dissimilar to his own?

Most of them prefer their pack as an alternative to the lives they each left behind, dishevelled men like Hopper, Fingers and Al Pachino (no, not THE Al Pachino) … and the elusive Sneed who skulks about the park like a phantom, while you get a whiff of Rusty’s catering skills featuring curried everything with each turn of the page. Under the ‘guidance’ of Marshall, a kind of militant Butlin’s Redcoat and resident sage, these men live by their own moral code and means of survival. They follow a few basic rules: everyone contributes, and once you decide to stay it would be considered rude to leave.

This existence is a stark contrast to Adam’s old one and presents him with an entirely new set of challenges. While conventional law is not recognised, extreme daily activities create the backbone on which the pack survives (including some disturbing early morning yoga). But any freedom gained from abandoning your past self can so easily morph into isolation and fear in the blink of an eye.

It takes an enormous talent to place the peculiarities of fictional characters on trial and make you believe in each every one of them, for better or for much, MUCH worse. Not only that, it’s brimming with shrewd observations of the sinister side of herd mentality and how the group applies deluded reasoning for it. Made me wonder if we’ve ever truly evolved.

I lost all sense of time alongside Adam while reading Wild Life, and that’s no exaggeration. His story is aptly told in ‘seasons’ and I was gutted to reach the final one marking the end of his journey. With it’s wicked brilliance, sharp pace and darkly satirical delivery I can safely say it’s one of those books I could happily read again tomorrow, as it sits superbly in a class of its own.

Rating: A mesmerising 5/5 (and a promise never to take Quality Street for granted again)

(Huge thanks, as always, to the Legend Press folks for providing another great book for me to devour as part of the Legend 100 Club.)

Legend 100 Club

Wild Life Book Summary

New novel from the Guardian Not the Booker shortlisted author of ‘Real Monsters’.

‘…as intoxicating as home-distilled hooch.’ — Stephen May, Costa Novel Award-shortlisted author

‘…inventive, finely written and disturbing.’– Jim Crace, Man Booker Prize-shortlisted author

‘When we moved into the wild, the wild moved into us.’

When a troubled advertising salesman loses his job, the fragile wall between his public and private personas comes tumbling down. Fleeing his debtors, Adam abandons his family and takes to sleeping rough in a local park, where a fraternity of homeless men befriend him.

As the months pass, Adam gradually learns to appreciate the tough new regime, until winter arrives early, threatening to turn his paradise into a nightmare.

Starving, exhausted and sick of the constant infighting, Adam decides to return to his family. The men, however, have other plans for him. With time running out, and the stakes raised unbearably high, Adam is forced to question whether any of us can truly escape the wildness within.

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Wild Life Author Profile

Liam Brown is a writer, filmmaker and former-life model. His debut novel Real Monsters was published in 2015 and long-listed for the Guardian s Not the Booker prize. He lives in Birmingham with his wife and two children.

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Wild Life Blog Tour

Thanks so much for stopping by,

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Real Monsters, by Liam Brown

Publisher: Legend Press  |  Published 1st March 2015  |  Edition: Kindle, via Netgalley

Real Monsters 27.02.15

Real Monsters is both engrossing and tragic.

With brutal truths and raw emotion, Real Monsters confronts the fallout of conflict on real people and the legacy this leaves behind.

The book is entirely narrated by Danny and Lorna via their letters, who alternately tell their sides of the conflict since the ‘monsters’ first attacked. Each of them set out to write their individual experiences to their son, right until the end of this compelling read.

Danny is a solider. He enlisted in the army to fight the monsters everyone has heard of. His new wife, Lorna, is left behind to carry on a life, which seems destined to be without him.

The two journals are quite different. Danny’s is an edgy monologue, a unique voice filled with expletives. It is an outpour of the harsh reality of the environment he’s engulfed by and the deteriorating mental state of a small band of soldiers reaching breaking point.

Lorna fills the background about life on home territory. Her journal records the life changing event at the age of twelve when her father had died in a terrorist attack. She tells of her troubled teenage years, until Danny rescued her. She relays her feelings from when Danny enlisted and her subsequent involvement in the protests against the war.

Although you can draw your own conclusions, at no time does the writer give an indication as to the location of Danny and Lorna. This story is portrayed in such a way that it could be set in any time zone, in any place, involving anyone.

It’s the emotion of the storyline that’s important, rather than a factual overload.  To give you some idea of how the writer achieved this, he introduces the two narrators, but doesn’t reveal their names until later in story. Although they remained anonymous until then, this only succeeded in my wanting to read further to discover their identity.

Some scenes are fairly harrowing and did make me shudder, plus the style of the narration does take a little getting used to, so it might not be a book for everyone. But I quickly became engrossed, right up to the final and tragic words that Danny and Lorna share.

Rating: 4/5

(Many thanks to the publisher, Legend Press via Netgalley, for the advanced copy.)


You can follow the author, Liam Brown, on Twitter:  @LiamBrownWriter  |  Publisher: @Legend_Press