Book Title: Barracuda (Standalone)
Author: Christos Tsiolkas
Number of pages: 528
“He asked the water to lift him, to carry him, to avenge him. He made his muscles shape his fury, made every stroke declare his hate. And the water obeyed; the water would give him his revenge. No one could beat him, no one came close.”
His whole life Danny Kelly’s only wanted one thing: to win Olympic gold. Everything he’s ever done – every thought, every dream, every action – takes him closer to that moment of glory, of vindication, when the world will see him for what he is: the fastest, the strongest and the best. His life has been a preparation for that moment.
His parents struggle to send him to the most prestigious private school with the finest swimming program; Danny loathes it there and is bullied and shunned as an outsider, but his coach is the best and knows Danny is, too, better than all those rich boys, those pretenders. Danny’s win-at-all-cost ferocity gradually wins favour with the coolest boys – he’s Barracuda, he’s the psycho, he’s everything they want to be but don’t have the guts to get there. He’s going to show them all.
“He would be first, everything would be alright when he came first, all would be put back in place. When he thought of being the best, only then did he feel calm.”
(an excerpt re: Goodreads @ Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas)
Should this book be picked up? the tl;dr spoiler-less review:
- A coming of age story with converging perspectives to recount the then and now of Daniel Kelly’s life.
- Prose is expertly versed, imaginative and evocative, even if long-winded.
- Characters are brutally honest, real, and provoke both negative/positive emotions.
- The plotting is seemingly basic but manages to capture a variety of genres.
I am perplexed.
But what I am sure of is that I’m a bit disappointed that the book cover (and its title by proxy) could have made me believe that this kid had some pseudo-merman powers or the like. Seriously.
However, the synopsis is certainly poignant. And if the blurb is of indication of the writing in this book then you’re certainly a winner for picking this book up because everything is meticulously described. To expand upon this point: you just didn’t somehow load up this blog (although that is cool beans as well)—no, that would be too easy… through the reflection of the backlit screen your eyes graze a query into the deepest desires for knowledge. A white manifestation of your soul skeptically hovers, looming, unsure, and you begin to wonder what the heck I’m talking about now…) Yeah, that’s my take on how overbearing and fluffy some descriptions tended to be. But I guess there’s substance in that so I can’t complain that much.
I will admit: I don’t usually gravitate towards novels fixated on a cultural-contemporary nature. Actually, I don’t remember how I came across Barracuda in the first place. But with Sochi (and Olympic feels) rapidly approaching, I felt this to be a great fit to explore the battle of an athlete’s mentality; and all of the inherent struggles and fix-ins that came with it.
Let’s dive right in.
Disclaimer: Potential spoilers inherent to this review have been minimized with exceptions to quotes.