Published on February 14th, 2019 | by Justin Bruce0
Foe – Iain Reid
Iain Reid, author of I’m Thinking of Ending Things, is back with a new suspenseful science fiction book, Foe. It’s a quick and worthwhile read.
Foe is a 2018 novel from Kingston-based author Iain Reid. Part suspense, part science fiction, and part horror, the story has its fair share of twists and turns but never loses the reader. While it is a short read, the book manages to pack in a lot of substance. Whether you’re a fan of Reid’s previous work or you’ve never heard of the guy, Foe is a worthwhile read.
The book is set in the near future and revolves around husband and wife Junior and Henrietta. After the two get an unexpected visit from Terrance, an employee of a space exploration agency called OuterMore, they learn that Junior has been selected to join a small crew on a space station designed by the strange visitor’s employer. Even more bizarre, the couple soon learn that Terrance is much more interested in learning about the two of them than he is teaching Junior about his upcoming trip. What follows is an increasingly strange and intrusive series of evaluations, leading Junior to call into question what he has, and, more importantly, what he hasn’t been told.
Despite the otherworldly elements, the novel is really an exploration of Junior and Henrietta’s relationship and the difficulties they go through after Terrance’s first visit. While I doubt any of us have been told of an impending trip to outer space, the fear and frustration that the couple experience keeps the characters relatable. Iain Reid’s dialogue-driven storytelling helps keep the book’s focus. This, combined with its low page count, made Foe an easy book to breeze through. Reid told Vice: “I love it when I sit down with a book and finish it in one setting [sic]. With books, we tend to read them over the course of a long period of time…We wouldn’t do that with a movie.” Given that the movie rights have already been purchased for Foe, it’s safe to say this style is working out for him.
If you’re familiar with some of Reid’s previous work, you’re right to expect a major plot twist at some point in the novel. Being that I wasn’t crazy about how the writer’s 2016 book I’m Thinking of Ending Things panned out, I was a bit nervous about how Foe would unfold. I was really pleased with the twist in this book; you might have seen it coming a mile away, but you’re not the one writing this review. It was jarring but makes no vast leaps in logic and really made me reconsider parts of what I had read earlier on. The book is ultimately open-ended, with some subtle, and some not-so-subtle, hints as to what could be to come, but offering no true sense of closure.
Foe was a really enjoyable read. The novel packs a lot of tension in it’s 250ish page count and Iain Reid has made some improvements to his storytelling that I don’t think will go unnoticed. Although the sci-fi aspects of the book are limited, Foe is definitely worth checking out if you’re in the market for a quick, suspenseful read.