Official Review: The Unbearable Machine by Megan Voysey

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Ginnamassa19
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Official Review: The Unbearable Machine by Megan Voysey

Post by Ginnamassa19 » 05 Aug 2018, 09:26

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "The Unbearable Machine" by Megan Voysey.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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Every once in a while, I come across a book written so truthfully that I can’t help but be captivated by its emotional honesty, bowled over by the author’s ability to perfectly capture the rawness of human emotion. For me, this was the case with Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day. It was the case with Judith Claire Mitchell’s A Reunion of Ghosts.

It was also the case with Megan Voysey’s The Unbearable Machine.

The Unbearable Machine is one of those books where the plot isn’t really the focus of the story, but still—before we go any further, let’s have a quick run-through of the storyline. Our main character, Astrid, is mourning the death of her partner Claire, without whom she feels lost and utterly alone. To cope with her loss, Astrid goes to therapy (a support group called Grieve with Dignity); she stays away from home for a while, going on a trip alone to learn to adapt to life without the love of her life. And, in the process of healing from this setback, she begins to heal from other traumatic events in her past, too. (Heads’ up—this does mean that this book does deal with darker themes like death and sexual assault, so consider yourself forewarned!)

The Unbearable Machine is beautifully written. It’s filled with vivid, haunting imagery and lyrical sentences that flow so seamlessly into each other, the writing more resembles poetry than prose. (Cross E. Lockhart’s writing style with spoken-word poetry—that’s the vibe you get with Voysey’s words.) It was easy to get lost in this book because the writing just flows—that’s something you don’t see too often. Voysey also makes great use of white space to enrich her tone, using double-line spacing to make each sentence that much more impactful. That’s usually analysis I’d save for poems, but that’s just how much Voysey’s writing reads like poetry!

Good writing aside, I also really liked the LGBTQ representation in this book; it’s great to see novels where people from the LGBTQ community have the starring roles. Also, Astrid may be a lesbian, but the story isn’t about coming out or being attracted to people of the same sex—Astrid has an identity and personality outside of her sexuality, which has always been the case in real life and should always be the case in media. LGBTQ characters in mainstream media tend to be written simply as That Queer Character, and have little to no development as actual characters, so The Unbearable Machine is definitely a great example of good representation!

Having said that, no book is perfect, and this one is no exception. My main gripe with this novel is that emotional emphasis is divided between two or three focal points—Claire’s death and a few other spoilers that I won’t share—and each focal point is equally emphasised. While this does pull the reader deeper into the story and allows for greater empathy and immersion, it also has the unfortunate side effect of making the story seem slightly unfocused, i.e. that the story can’t decide on a single main event. This distracts from the story because the events aren’t even the main point of the book; that title belongs to the emotional journey Astrid embarks on. I’d have liked it better if these subplots had been woven into the main core of the story, rather than having each event presented as the be-all and end-all of the plot. Another issue I had was that Voysey uses too many commas; while this was partially because of her writing style, I did find myself thinking that some additional full stops would have made the reading experience even better. I will say that the above-mentioned aren’t major problems, though—I did thoroughly enjoy the book!

Overall, I’d give The Unbearable Machine a solid 3 out of 4 stars because it really held up well for me. It’s definitely a book I’d recommend to anyone with a couple of hours to spare, at any rate—I promise it’ll be a fulfilling read.

******
The Unbearable Machine
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Bianka Walter
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Post by Bianka Walter » 07 Aug 2018, 14:23

This book sounds very intense. Dealing with the death of a loved one is an issue that almost everyone (unfortunately) can relate to - such a forlorn subject. But I loved your review. You made the book sound as beautiful as I'm sure it is, including the gloomy subject matter :)
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Post by daydreaming reader » 07 Aug 2018, 17:14

This books appears to have wonderful characters and promising character development. Thank you for lovely the review.
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Post by Cecilia_L » 07 Aug 2018, 23:20

This sounds like a beautifully written story about dealing with loss. I enjoyed your excellent review.

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Post by Ruba Abu Ali » 09 Aug 2018, 12:58

I could use an enjoyable read that tackles important issues, like dealing with loss. Thanks for the beautiful review.

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Post by Fuzaila » 17 Aug 2018, 04:45

I enjoyed reading your indepth review. I see the book does dwelve on the dark side with a few deaths. Your first sentence captured my attention well enough that I won't pass by without adding this book. Thank you!
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Post by teacherjh » 24 Aug 2018, 22:34

Honestly this sounds a little confusing to me. I think I'll skip this one.

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Post by Caylie_Cat » 28 Nov 2018, 02:25

You have written a lovely review about a sensitive subject that can easily become controversial. Apart from the review, I love your profile picture which is not that dissimilar to my own. Cat people unite!

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Post by Cotwani » 16 Dec 2018, 01:26

The book seems to be juggling very many intense issues. I think I will pass.I have enjoyed reading your review all the same.
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Post by Jagiine » 19 Dec 2018, 18:55

I find it rather enjoyable when I come across a book that reads with a both realistic and poetic tone. I appreciate your comparisons to poetry, as it makes the book more appealing. Thank you overall for a lovely review!

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Post by Bluebird03 » 18 May 2019, 23:10

It certainly sounds as though the author's style of writing was engaging- with the flow of the writing, the resemblance of poetry and the double spacing. I enjoyed reading your very thoughtful and informative review!

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Post by Mbrooks2518 » 13 Jun 2019, 00:38

Great review! This does seem like a great book for those who are interested, but I don't think it's one for me.

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Post by Nisha Ward » 13 Jun 2019, 02:28

Ah, this sounds like a much darker book than I'd expect for one dealing with the grief of loss, but it also sounds a bit confused as to what it wants to be. I'm on the fence for this one because on the one hand, LGBTQ representation isn't easy to find, but on the other, I'm not sure I can deal with a confused plot that can't decide what to prioritise.
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Post by Ginnamassa19 » 24 Jun 2019, 03:37

Bianka Walter wrote: ↑
07 Aug 2018, 14:23
This book sounds very intense. Dealing with the death of a loved one is an issue that almost everyone (unfortunately) can relate to - such a forlorn subject. But I loved your review. You made the book sound as beautiful as I'm sure it is, including the gloomy subject matter :)
Thanks, Bianka! :D Yes, I do think the subject matter is a little heavy, but the book is beautifully written!

I'm so sorry for the late reply--I took a hiatus from this website and didn't realise I had comments to reply to :P

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Ginnamassa19
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Post by Ginnamassa19 » 24 Jun 2019, 03:39

daydreaming reader wrote: ↑
07 Aug 2018, 17:14
This books appears to have wonderful characters and promising character development. Thank you for lovely the review.
Thank *you* for commenting! The book *is* a good read :)

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