Occasionally, when we start reading a book, we’re already expecting to be surprised by some event, outcome or revelation. We may not know what that surprise will be, but we know it’s coming, possibly because there may be some mystery awaiting to be solved. The books mentioned below have the particularity of featuring surprises that I was not expecting at all for various reasons. I could have chosen a few more, but these were the first that sprang to mind.
The first reason why I was surprised by Jessie Burton’s debut novel was that I knew close to nothing about the plot before buying it. I just had fell in love with the cover. However, after reading the first chapters, the main mystery seemed to be the identity of the miniaturist who sends Nella small replicas of people and objects from her daily life that she didn’t order. So, it was with great astonishment that I realised that many other and more interesting surprises had been awaiting me.
Through a non-linear narrative, A God in Ruins introduces the reader to the life of Teddy Todd. Despite desiring to be a poet when he was younger, he ends up becoming a bomber pilot during the Second World War. I got immersed in his life and became quite interested in his relationship with his family. The revelation near the end of the book saddened me and took me completely by surprise.
The Innocent by Ian McEwan
The Innocent takes place in Berlin in 1955-65 at the beginning of the Cold War. The main character in this novel, Leonard Marnham, is a 25-year-old Englishman, who becomes involved in a CIA and MI6 operation. What really surprised me was its gruesome streak. I was definitely not expecting it, although McEwan is sometimes referred to as “Ian Macabre”.
A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin
If you have read the A Song of Ice and Fire series, you’re probably wondering why I only got surprised by A Dance with Dragons, the latest published book. The explanation is simple. When I decided to read this fantasy series full of political intrigue, I had already watched the first three seasons of the TV adaptation – Game of Thrones. I read the first two books before watching the fourth season, and only started to delve into the remaining books afterwards.
So, I already knew which shocking events awaited me in the first three books. And it was only in the fifth one that something happened that I was not expecting at all, although in hindsight it shouldn’t have surprised me that much. Surprised is not even the most appropriate adjective. I was furious to the point of throwing the book onto the floor.
What books surprised you the most? Tell me in the comments!