Review: The Man on the Middle Floor
Lionel Shriver meets Mark Haddon in this break-out debut.
Despite living in the same three-flat house in the suburbs of London, the residents are strangers to one another. The bottom floor is home to Tam, a recent ex-cop who spends his days drowning his sorrows in whisky. On the middle floor is Nick, a young man with Asperger's who likes to stick to his schedules and routines. The top floor belongs to Karen, a doctor and researcher who has spent her life trying to understand the rising rates of autism. They have lived their lives separately, until now, when an unsolved murder and the man on the middle floor connect them all together. Told from three points of view, The Man on the Middle Floor is about disconnection in all its forms; sexual, physical, parental and emotional. It questions whether society is meeting the needs of the fast growing autistic section of society, or exacerbating it.
Thought-provoking and thrilling, The Man on the Middle Floor will leave readers talking.
This was a well-written book featuring three main characters that I honestly could not stand. I appreciated the first person POV of Nick which helped me understand him and his actions a little bit better but it did nothing to make me connect with him as a person. Karen was just SO frustrating and I get it - a woman chooses her work over her family and in most people's eyes she's instantly vilified - but how can you have three kids and treat them all so horribly, going so far as to turning your youngest child into a science experiment to benefit your career? I don't believe I've ever hated a lead character so much. I realize her husband was totally emotionally abusive but put myself in that situation, and I don't know if I'd be any different. She was completely frustrating and I'm so glad her children left her for good. She was toxic to everyone around her. Tam was really the only silver-lining and even then, he was a sad excuse for a human being up until the end when he redeemed himself.
Moving on, the whole plot-line with the abusive grandfather could have been left out of this book. I get it - he was a horrible human being - but we rarely saw him in the book and then, in the end, he's shown being a total a-hole to his grandchild who is about to be taken into police custody and what does he do? He cusses him out right then and there which (of course) sets off alarms in Tam's head that say, "He's an abuser and rapist! Let's arrest him." I just feel like that entire subplot was unnecessary.
And now, my absolute least favorite part of this book, coming from a hardcore animal lover and activist, WHY did a kitten need to be thrown into the plot of this book and WHY did he have to kill it? Was it to show us that he was capable of killing everything and not understanding what he did and feeling remorse? We got that from the park attack and then we saw it again with Marta. After he killed the cat and it kept coming up as evidence I thought to myself that it's possible that there was a deeper meaning and reason for the cat being introduced and killed, but no, there really wasn't. The poor thing was tossed in a freezer 20% into the book and never found justice.
Overall, this was definitely not the book for me but I did enjoy the writing style and detailed descriptions of everything.
I received this book through NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.