Thursday, 13 May 2010

The Collector by John Fowles

GENRE: horror/thriller

Withdrawn, uneducated and unloved, Frederick collects butterflies and takes photographs. He is obsessed with a beautiful stranger, the art student Miranda. When he wins the pools he buys a remote Sussex house and calmly abducts Miranda, believing she will grow to love him in time. Alone and desperate, Miranda must struggle to overcome her own prejudices and contempt if she is to understand her captor, and so gain her freedom.

This novel was recommended to me by a friend and I am so glad I followed her advice and read the book because it is fantastic! The plot line is simple: a guy kidnaps a girl. But there is so much more to it. The book alternates between Frederick’s point of view (he is the kidnapper) and Miranda’s – she is Frederick’s victim. His decision to kidnap her is not because of money; I think that it’s worse. He kidnaps her because he is lonely, and because he wants to add the beautiful Miranda (he is obsessed with her) to his collection of objects that he collects. He hopes that in time, if he keeps her long enough, she will grow to love him back.

This novel is a psychological thriller almost from cover to cover. At the beginning, not much is happening and we only get to meet Frederick as a loner with no social skills who suddenly becomes rich. But once he starts to concoct his plan concerning Miranda, the book takes a very psychological turn. Through his eyes, you learn how he prepares everything to the tiniest detail, and how he thinks about taking Miranda to his solitary home and keep her there. I hoped that he would change his mind, although I knew he would do it; you could just tell he would do it. The suspense is amazing, and I could hardly keep the book down to do my daily chores, eat and sleep.

Once Miranda is in his home, locked up in a luxurious cell Frederick prepared for her, the psychological battle really begins. You get to know both Frederick’s and Miranda’s side of the story, how they think, how they see the situation, what they want and what they fear. Their “relationship” alternates between hatred and nonchalance, to strange acceptance and weird friendship for a little while. But Miranda is a fighter, and for the majority of the novel, I think she is psychologically stronger than Frederick. Although she can’t escape, she often has the upper hand and what I like about her very much is that she never stops hoping and fighting for freedom. But no matter what’s going on in the story, the tension never ceases to exist. Both characters are quite unpredictable, and they keep surprising you.

I liked both Frederick’s and Miranda’s characters. He is not someone you would hope to meet one day, but he is definitely intriguing and complex. He is a loner with no social skills, and he basically convinced himself that the only way he can have things in his life is to buy them or collect them. That’s why he did not approach Miranda like a normal guy and asked her out. He decided in advance that such an approach would not work for him, and he actually believed that the only option for him was to kidnap her and keep her, like a piece from one of his collections. He is also very creepy, silent and brooding, doesn’t say much, but when he does, he keeps you hooked. Miranda is a typical young lady with her head up in the clouds, but she’s an okay girl, normal, with ambitions, hobbies, likes and dislikes. I really felt sorry for her most of the time, but freakishly enough, there were times when I also felt sorry for Frederick.

The ending made my jaw drop, it was really surprising, I have to confess. But I can’t tell you what happens, so you’ll have to read the book. All I can say is that this is an amazing psychological thriller and I really recommend this book. The novel also draws elements from Shakespeare’s Tempest, which is really interesting.



Bookalicious Ramblings said...

Great review! I hope I was the friend who suggested this one? Glad you enjoyed it - it's certainly one of the most haunting books I've ever read!

Irena @ This Miss Loves to Read said...

You are the friend!;)

Unknown said...

I read this book for my A Level studies. It was a real journey for me. I hated it in the beginning because it was so scary but by the end I could really understand how much of a great book it is. Highly disturbing but at the same time you're mesmerised by it. Creepy too!