Friday 31 January 2020

#BookReview — From His Perspective by Lisa Keeble #Fantasy #Satire #Humour

From His Perspective
By Lisa Keeble

If it hadn’t been for an accident involving a stray biscuit crumb, a black hole and a size 7 tweed slipper, they could have stayed true to their original blueprints but, as it was, they got stuck with humanity, a complex and extremely irritating species.

As the humans blunder their way through history, trying to grapple with the myriad of emotions that were installed in the early developmental stages, Norbert and his Boss do what they can to help. Unfortunately, they frequently cause far more problems than they solve and are often hindered by the restraints placed on them by the Accounts Department, and the militant actions of Gavin who deals with Returns.

They watch as cavemen tackle woolly mammoths in order to fill their larders and provide next season’s wardrobe and quickly regret introducing them to fire. Rivers run red with blood and plagues of frogs are visited on the Egyptians which does nothing more than interrupt their laundry schedule and promote an increase in sales of sandal cleaner. The Boss has decades of sinus infections and soot covered sandals as Henry VIII and Bloody Mary take power, prompting him to create syphilis and pheromones which, in turn, cause their own problems. Wars, the industrial revolution, slavery and empire building - all it does for Norbert and his Boss is push up the overtime budget, create more paperwork and really, really get on their nerves. Not only that but the human's blatant disregard for their habitat means braving the really long ladders to make repairs to the ozone layer.

They are left doubting whether they will ever fully understand what drives mankind. More importantly, they wonder if they’re to blame. Did they add too much essence of sheep? Did Cyril make a mistake with his calculations when they decided to increase intelligence levels? Was it such a good idea to use different pigments for the humans just because it made life easier for Cedric in Tracking? Would their lives have been easier if they’d just stuck with amoebas and forgotten about human beings altogether?

In the end the Boss decides that the only way to really deal with the humans is to tell them why they were created.

“It wasn’t a piece of biscuit, just one crumb, that’s all, I promise. One tiny crumb fell into one of the black holes and then there was a bit of an explosion...”

In the beginning, there was darkness, and the Boss liked the darkness. He had spent years creating the darkness. He was very proud of the darkness. But, then Norbert sneezed while eating a biscuit and there was an incident with a size seven tweed slipper which catastrophically ended with a rather large and unexpected big bang. And the darkness was no more.

What was needed in such an unprecedented situation was tea and copious amounts of biscuits. Perhaps, after a digestive or two, they would, to their delight, discover that this happy accident was an opportunity to create something far greater than darkness, and far more significant than nothing.

Nevertheless, next time, they would stick to the approved blueprints. However, life, as the Boss and Norbert found out, had an awful habit of not staying true to its design. Suddenly, there were fish who wanted to live on the land, and a dinosaur who went around killing everything it met, and then, of course, there was man — the Boss’ most distinguished and regrettable invention.

From the beginning of time to the present day, From His Perspective by Lisa Keeble is the farcical retelling of a snack disaster that resulted in the origin and evolution of the universe, and life on earth.

From His Perspective is a book where I found myself laughing out loud, especially at Norbert and his many antics, on more than one occasion. From the first page, I felt like I was reading a book penned by Douglas Adams — it has the same comforting familiarity of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. There was the same ridiculousness in the story which was incredibly compelling and extremely amusing. From His Perspective is an easy read, and although it has a few mild sex references and equally mild bad language, I think it is a book that would highly appeal to a young adult 14+ audience. 

Keeble has cleverly crafted a caricature of the life of man. There are some notable historical figures mentioned during the course of this book — from Moses to Jesus, William the Conquerer to Henry VIII — all of which are painted with a satirical stroke of the quill. I don’t think Keeble was going for historical accuracy when she wrote about these characters but instead, she has depicted them with a rather big pinch of salt and a hefty helping of creative licence, but it does lead to some amusing anecdotes — Moses wandered in the wildness for four decades because he had no sense of direction, who knew?

With a satirical eye on creationism and religion, Keeble has penned a book that, despite all the humour, addresses some of the worst traits of humanity. The disregard for life, the selfishness, greed and corruption of the ruling classes over the course of human history from the beginning of time until now, is all carefully depicted. Throughout this book, Keeble has one eye on the message she wants to get across while having a novelists intuition about what makes a book hilariously funny.

When portraying the life of man, Keeble has also used political satire to great effect. Her depiction of the French Revolution is an example where Keeble has done this particularly well, and despite all the humour, this is a book that asks you to think. What is right? What is wrong? And why do we allow atrocities to occur, when we, the sheep, are far bigger in number than the shepherds who so-called look after our interests? There are some crucial questions in this book, that perhaps, on a philosophical level, Keeble wants her readers to think carefully about before answering.

The Boss is in want of a better word, a biscuit munching mad scientist, who is playing God, rather than actually being him. His side-kick is his wonderfully awkward and shy personal assistant who goes by the name of Norbert. There are no celestial beings in this book — this is not a book about God and nor does it pretend to be. The Boss, Norbert, and the other characters who live in this realm create the world that we live in and the creatures and flora that we know. They then sit back and watch as one would do a television show. We humble humans are the entertainment, and such entertainment is at times very difficult for the Boss to witness. He tries to intervene on occasions, and yet still, man does not seem to understand how to live in harmony and peace. The Boss really struggles with morality in this book. He looks down upon his experiment and wonders what went wrong? Like any benevolent parent, he questions if he is to blame — did he make man too sheeplike? Had he really needed to add hate to balance love? So many questions, and no answers. In the end, the Boss turns his back and spends several decades playing checkers, in the hope that by the time he returns, man would have caused their own extinction! Alas, they did not.

I was thoroughly amused by Lisa Keeble’s From His Perspective from start to finish. Fans of Douglas Adams, and Monty Python, will enjoy this book very much!

I Highly Recommend.

Review by Mary Anne Yarde
The Coffee Pot Book Club.

Pick up your copy of
From His Perspective

Lisa Keeble

Lisa Keeble was born in the UK many years ago and, from a tender age, she had aspirations to be a writer so, naturally, she grew up to be an accountant. When she realised that spreadsheets really weren't doing it for her any more, she packed her bags and headed off to the South of France. These days she can be found living by the sea where she happily taps away at her computer trying to join random thoughts into something readable.

Her debut novel, From His Perspective, was born from an idea that she had in the shower one morning. It started off life as a short story and then morphed into a book with very little involvement from the author.

Connect with Lisa: WebsiteGoodreads.

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See you on your next coffee break!
Take Care,
Mary Anne xxx