Sunday, 25 November 2018

The Girl And The Rat by Jari Jarvela

The Girl And The Rat by Jari Jarvela
First published in Finnish as Tytto ja rotta in Finland by Tammi Publishers in 2015. English language translation by Kristian London published by AmazonCrossing in May 2016.

Featured in Cover Characteristics: Stairs

How I got this book:
Bought the ebook from Amazon

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After losing her boyfriend and partner in crime, Rust, during a tragic run-in with security, Metro moves to Berlin to start over. She finds a home in a grimy squat where she befriends other graffiti artists, and together they carry out aggressive attacks, bombing entire trains and buildings with fresh paint and achieving international notoriety by posting their hits online.

Adorning the attic of their squat is a wall-size piece by world-famous tagger Banksy depicting a silhouetted rat spraying a wall. It’s a hidden treasure amid the squalor. But when Metro comes home one day to find bodies—including one familiar face from her past—scattered around the building and the amazing mural missing entirely, she and her friends are forced into action. The piece turns up at auction for millions of dollars, and Metro must follow it to its new home in Kotka, Finland, a town she thought she had left behind for good.

Up against the law and on the run from her personal demons, Metro has no choice but to seek justice with the only means she has: graffiti.

The Girl And The Rat is the the sequel to The Girl And The Bomb which I read last year. I don't think it's absolutely essential to read the books in order as Jarvela includes brief recaps of important earlier events, but this second story does carry on from the first so I felt I had a fuller understanding of the characters.

Metro is still emotionally shattered from the loss of Rust and her escape to Berlin, by way of Pripyat, is an attempt to try and overcome this, however I didn't notice the same strength of feeling from her this time around. Perhaps she is numbed? The Girl And The Rat is told entirely from Metro's perspective so we don't get the dual voices which I thought worked so well in the first book. Instead this sequel focuses more on action scenes. Jarvela writes excitement well so I was gripped by set pieces such as the graffiti-ing of the train and the painting of a high-rise office block. Without the contrast of experiencing Metro's emotions though, the action felt more two-dimensional this time around. Without, hopefully, giving too much away, she mentally shrugs off events which should force at least some reaction and I wanted more depth.

I struggled too with the plausibility of Metro's continued athletic prowess considering her mounting catalogue of injuries. She seemed almost cartoonishly unstoppable which, for me, detracted significantly from the realism of everything else. I loved the descriptions of the grim attic squat, its security provided by the only access being across a narrow steel beam - but if one can still cross while encumbered with two crutches ...?

The Girl And The Rat is a thrilling, fast-paced story that was an enjoyable read at the time. I gave it four stars immediately on finishing as I did get nicely swept into the tale. Much of my criticism has come up on reflection so if you are looking for fun escapist reads with an unusual focus (and aren't planning to dwell on potential story flaws), then certainly try The Girl And The Bomb followed by The Girl And The Rat.

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  1. Interesting premise but I also get taken out of the story when the MC has an uncanny ability to never get hurt/ injured. Awesome Review!
    Tori @ In Tori Lex

    1. Yes, I enjoyed the story idea and setting, but Metro's ability to carry on with remarkable physicality despite an increasing catalogue of injuries just didn't ring true