“Insurrecto” by Gina Apostol

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I received an advanced reading copy of Insurrecto from NetGalley and Soho Press in exchange for an honest review.

I was quite interested to read this as the Philippines is not an area of the world I am very familiar with and I was looking forward to gaining an insight into the culture and some of the country’s history and culture. 

The book vividly describes the bustle, heat and culture of the Philippine setting. The characters initially seem compelling when we meet them, however, I did not feel like I got to know them by the end of the novel. The filmmaker, Chiara, is mysterious to the point of being completely unknowable. The other main character Magsalin, is easier to get a grip on but she still managed to slip through my fingers. I enjoyed the flashbacks to Chiara’s parents and felt these were the most interesting characters in the novel although again, I felt their motivations were impossible to grasp.

Ultimately my main issue with this novel was the writing style which I found almost unfathomable. I consider myself a reasonably intelligent person, but there were passages that I read and re-read multiple times and still failed to fully understand. The writing style is rather overwrought, and I struggled to comprehend what was happening at certain points in the novel. I appreciate that this is my personal preference, others may enjoy this aspect of it. 

On balance, this novel had some enjoyable parts to it and I can honestly say that it is quite unlike anything I have ever read. It is a vibrant and interesting novel, but not one that spoke to me personally.

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