★ ★ ★
Foe is described as a “taut, psychological mind-bender” and while that is fitting, for me it was more of a slow burn, character driven story that is centered around relationships and isolation. It had that uneasiness within the first couple of pages that never leaves long after you’ve finished reading it. I cannot discuss too much into the plot, and to be honest, not much actually happens in this story—it relays a lot on dialogue and the thoughts of one character, our main protagonist.
Junior and Henrietta live a quiet life in solitude on their farm. One day a stranger from the city arrives with news: Junior has been randomly selected to travel to space. Henrietta won’t have a chance to miss him though, because she won’t be alone, she will have company that’s already been arranged.
The chapters are short, some less than 2-pages, which I personally like because it makes the story feel like it’s progressing quicker and I can get through a handful of chapters in one go when I’m reading during free time throughout the day. I also found it a well fit for this type of novel due to the lack of events that went on and how this was heavy on inner monologue.
I am torn between a 2 1/2 or 3-star review because while this was lackluster in areas due to not much taking place and seemed to drag on despite being a relatively short novel, it ended on a surreal note that left me as a reader stunned. It was a predictable ending to some, but not one that I had in mind or thought about once while reading the story. The protagonist, Junior, offers a rather distorted narrative due to his troubled psyche and the strain this unwelcoming event has caused on their quiet, isolated farm. There is an unsettling feeling surrounding the surprise guest that seeps into the energy of the farm, and that makes it difficult to analyze the situation and piece together the unknown due to the complexity and uncertainty that builds.
If you are someone who enjoys thrillers with some science-fiction, or just an intriguing, keep-you-guessing quick read that you can read within a day or two, I would say pick up Foe and see for yourself. If you have read it, tell me your thoughts! Did you expect the ending or were you just as surprised?
“In Iain Reid’s second haunting, philosophical puzzle of a novel, set in the near-future, Junior and Henrietta live a comfortable, solitary life on their farm, far from the city lights, but in close quarters with each other. One day, a stranger from the city arrives with alarming news: Junior has been randomly selected to travel far away from the farm…very far away. The most unusual part? Arrangements have already been made so that when he leaves, Henrietta won’t have a chance to miss him, because she won’t be left alone—not even for a moment. Henrietta will have company. Familiar company.”