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Absorbed

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Allison has been with Owen since university. She's given up on writing her novel and is working a dull office job at the local council – now it feels like the only interesting thing about her is that she's Owen's girlfriend. But he's slipping away from her, and Allison has no idea who she'll be without him. Panicking, she absorbs him... Soon Allison begins taking on Owen's b Allison has been with Owen since university. She's given up on writing her novel and is working a dull office job at the local council – now it feels like the only interesting thing about her is that she's Owen's girlfriend. But he's slipping away from her, and Allison has no idea who she'll be without him. Panicking, she absorbs him... Soon Allison begins taking on Owen's best qualities, becoming the person she always thought she should be. But is Owen all she needs to complete herself? Will Allison ever be a whole person? Absorbed is the original and timely debut novel from Kylie Whitehead; a darkly comic story of female insecurity, body horror and modern relationships.


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Allison has been with Owen since university. She's given up on writing her novel and is working a dull office job at the local council – now it feels like the only interesting thing about her is that she's Owen's girlfriend. But he's slipping away from her, and Allison has no idea who she'll be without him. Panicking, she absorbs him... Soon Allison begins taking on Owen's b Allison has been with Owen since university. She's given up on writing her novel and is working a dull office job at the local council – now it feels like the only interesting thing about her is that she's Owen's girlfriend. But he's slipping away from her, and Allison has no idea who she'll be without him. Panicking, she absorbs him... Soon Allison begins taking on Owen's best qualities, becoming the person she always thought she should be. But is Owen all she needs to complete herself? Will Allison ever be a whole person? Absorbed is the original and timely debut novel from Kylie Whitehead; a darkly comic story of female insecurity, body horror and modern relationships.

30 review for Absorbed

  1. 5 out of 5

    Robert

    Absorbed is the first offering from New Ruins; a collaboration between indie publishers Dead Ink and Influx , two presses whose output is consistently great and innovative. According to the about section New Ruins ‘publishes books that are comfortable sitting across, within, or outside of genre labels, for readers unafraid of transgressing boundaries‘. Judging by Absorbed, they have definitely kept their word. Allison has problems. Her constant fear of her long term partner, Owen leaving her is w Absorbed is the first offering from New Ruins; a collaboration between indie publishers Dead Ink and Influx , two presses whose output is consistently great and innovative. According to the about section New Ruins ‘publishes books that are comfortable sitting across, within, or outside of genre labels, for readers unafraid of transgressing boundaries‘. Judging by Absorbed, they have definitely kept their word. Allison has problems. Her constant fear of her long term partner, Owen leaving her is worsening, she does not like her job at the local council, her writing career has stalled and she is slowly losing her closest friend. On New Year’s eve, Owen and Allison have sex and Owen disappears. Allison believes that she absorbed him. As the book proceeds, we readers then get glimpses of Allison and Owen’s relationship, which is built on anxiety, jealousy, constant break ups and lack of communication – from both parties. In the process Allison drops bits and pieces about her past, which is a contributing factor to her anxiety. I saw absorbed as a book about relationship dynamics and mental health. How can a relationship cope with challenges? what happens if communication is not strong enough? does taking on a partner’s traits help strengthen a relationship or keep it going? Absorbed poses and answers these questions. At times the book has a body horror aspect and there are supernatural elements. I was reminded of the deadpan style which is seen in Otessa Moshfegh’s characters (no nose picking or bum scratching with Absorbed , although there is some detail over a particular nasty cramp). What I liked most is the eerie atmosphere that Kylie Whitehead conjures. There were times I felt a mounting tension when Allison starts dabbling into the supernatural world. Absorbed is a book that plays with your emotions, from suspense to intrigue. Clichés such as gripping and unputdownable were made for this book. Absorbed is excellent. Its cleverness lies in the fact that there are deeper and serious topics in the book and yet it can be taken as a horror novel albeit more creepy than scream out loud. Kylie Whitehead writes convincing characters and an unpredictable story. This all leads to a novel that will keep the reader up all night until it’s over. This all bodes well for a bright (or maybe it’s better if I say dark) future. Many thanks to New Ruins for providing a copy of Absorbed

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sue

    If you have never reached the end of a novel and thought to yourself "Well, that was a bit weird..." then, dear reader, you have really missed out, because sometimes the wackiest of concepts can really get to the heart of what it means to be human. I am here for all the wonderful weirdness that makes you think when it comes to books, and so I bring you the fabulous debut from Kylie Whitehead, Absorbed. Absorbed is about a young woman called Allison, whose insecurities have led to her a place wher If you have never reached the end of a novel and thought to yourself "Well, that was a bit weird..." then, dear reader, you have really missed out, because sometimes the wackiest of concepts can really get to the heart of what it means to be human. I am here for all the wonderful weirdness that makes you think when it comes to books, and so I bring you the fabulous debut from Kylie Whitehead, Absorbed. Absorbed is about a young woman called Allison, whose insecurities have led to her a place where she has given up on her hopes and dreams and clings desperately to her identity as Owen's girlfriend -worried that if he leaves her she will be nothing. Terrified that Owen is distancing himself from her after ten years together, as his life seems to be going upward and onward while she stagnates, she panics and... absorbs him. Once Owen has become part of her, Allison begins a painful transformation that has her taking on his finer qualities in an attempt to become a better person and escape the darkness inside her - but will this assimilation be enough for her to be the person she wants to be? Okay, so it's an unusual concept, but to be honest it doesn't really matter if you take Allison's absorbing habit literally or metaphorically. What you actually have here is an unusual coming of age story that explores female insecurity; unhealthy relationships; the painful act of self-discovery; and a coming to terms with the legacy of a disturbed childhood - and it imparts its message by pushing the boundaries with style. There were times when I was reminded of the eerie bleakness of How Pale The Winter Has Made Us by Adam Scovell, the blackest humour and unravelling of the psyche of Boy Parts by Eliza Clark, and the way Naomi Booth explores the frozen human heart in her incredible Exit Management, by way of the insidious menace of Ira Levin's classic Rosemary's Baby, in the slick way it mixes original literary fiction with an underlying feel of delicious surreal horror. It's completely compulsive reading and I absorbed the whole lovely lot in a single sitting in much the same way Allison draws in Owen, unable to look away even for a minute. As the inaugural publication from New Ruins, a band new collaboration between two of my absolute favourite indie publishers Influx and Dead Ink, it is something of a gem that promises a treasure trove of delights in the future. Embrace the weird and wonderful and give yourself a treat!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Aiden

    Well that was something else, New Ruins have set to break the genre boundaries and this book certainly does that and more. Whitehead has written a book which is so compulsive as the protagonist Allison absorbs her boyfriend and takes on his best qualities as she is fed up of her mundane life. She didn't want to lose Owen so the only way to keep him was to absorb him otherwise she would be nothing, as the novel develops she becomes the person she wants to be as she begins to be her better self sh Well that was something else, New Ruins have set to break the genre boundaries and this book certainly does that and more. Whitehead has written a book which is so compulsive as the protagonist Allison absorbs her boyfriend and takes on his best qualities as she is fed up of her mundane life. She didn't want to lose Owen so the only way to keep him was to absorb him otherwise she would be nothing, as the novel develops she becomes the person she wants to be as she begins to be her better self she worries if she'll ever be happy with who she is. Allison is constantly looking for validation so in order to be accepted she becomes someone else however her past comes back to haunt her and she begins to feel lost again. I couldn't help but indulging in this book as I had so many questions as the main character was struggling to understand the difference between love and jealousy.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    4.5

  5. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    How do you carry an entire book on a hook like this? Well, Kylie has nailed it - went a bunch of places I didn't expect, refused to go anywhere obvious, made me reflect a lot more on myself than I anticipated. A great first title from New Ruins and I can't wait to read what Kylie writes next. How do you carry an entire book on a hook like this? Well, Kylie has nailed it - went a bunch of places I didn't expect, refused to go anywhere obvious, made me reflect a lot more on myself than I anticipated. A great first title from New Ruins and I can't wait to read what Kylie writes next.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jules

    Absorbed is a bit of a strange one to review! It’s unique & original & quirky, and when I read a book like this, I always think that I’ve failed to see an obvious metaphor staring me in the face. Or can it not just be that it is unique & original & quirky, and that be the end of that? Despite its strangeness (afraid of losing her boyfriend, Allison absorbs him into herself & takes on his qualities), it is fabulously written & utterly intriguing. What exactly went on? I don’t know. But I liked it!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Erika Lynn (shelf.inspiration)

    4 Stars See more on my Bookstagram: Shelf.Inspiration Instagram “If only you could get deeper into him, if only you could sneak a little more of yourself into his consciousness. You want to inhabit him or have him inhabit you.” - Absorbed. Allison has been with Owen since university. She’s given up on writing her novel and is working a dull office job at the local council—now it feels like the only interesting thing about her is that she’s Owen’s girlfriend. But he’s slipping away from her, an 4 Stars See more on my Bookstagram: Shelf.Inspiration Instagram “If only you could get deeper into him, if only you could sneak a little more of yourself into his consciousness. You want to inhabit him or have him inhabit you.” - Absorbed. Allison has been with Owen since university. She’s given up on writing her novel and is working a dull office job at the local council—now it feels like the only interesting thing about her is that she’s Owen’s girlfriend. But he’s slipping away from her, and Allison has no idea who she’ll be without him. Panicking, she absorbs him. Soon Allison begins taking on Owen’s best qualities, becoming the person she always thought she should be. But is Owen all she needs to complete herself? Will Allison ever be a whole person? This was such a great debut! This novel follows Allison who is a little uncertain about her mundane life and feels like her boyfriend is slipping away from her. Not wanting to be without him, one night she absorbs him and begins to take on his qualities. Soon she feels different and things start to change, but it leaves her wondering about what is going on with herself and if Owen is actually gone. This story explores modern relationships and insecurity in such a unique way. The story is definitely a bit abstract and speculative but it is very thought provoking. Even though I finished this book last week, I keep thinking about the ending and definitely want to discuss this with someone else. If any of these topics interest you, pick this up and then let’s chat!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Piper Avery

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Really thought this was going to be my favourite book of the year so far! I loved the deep character study and related to many of the narrators emotions, which made me more invested in her and the story. Just didn’t love the ending - I would have preferred a few more answers instead of leaving things so open ended (also thought all the absorbing was a bit much - it would have been more meaningful if only the bf was absorbed imo). Overall really really enjoyed it though and gave me lots to think Really thought this was going to be my favourite book of the year so far! I loved the deep character study and related to many of the narrators emotions, which made me more invested in her and the story. Just didn’t love the ending - I would have preferred a few more answers instead of leaving things so open ended (also thought all the absorbing was a bit much - it would have been more meaningful if only the bf was absorbed imo). Overall really really enjoyed it though and gave me lots to think about, also wish I’d have annotated it as had lots of good quotes I wish I’d marked to come back to!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    You ever finishing reading a book and feel like you’re not too sure what’s went on? Well that’s how I felt about this one! But for me that just made it even better. Allison has just absorbed her long term boyfriend Owen, but maybe this could be a good thing. I mean you can’t lose someone if you absorb them! This book went in a direction I wasn’t really expecting but it turned out to be one in which I really enjoyed. The beauty of this books is how it touches on so many relatable issues through the You ever finishing reading a book and feel like you’re not too sure what’s went on? Well that’s how I felt about this one! But for me that just made it even better. Allison has just absorbed her long term boyfriend Owen, but maybe this could be a good thing. I mean you can’t lose someone if you absorb them! This book went in a direction I wasn’t really expecting but it turned out to be one in which I really enjoyed. The beauty of this books is how it touches on so many relatable issues through the use of a completely abstract concept! Some of the issues it touches on include the stigma around not wanting to have children, your job relating to you worth as a person and the insecurities we all have inside us but are always trying to hide from others. It’s one of those books that really gets you thinking and reflecting. The mentioning of these topics might give the impression that this is a heavy and difficult read but I didn’t find that to be the case at all. In fact I found this to be an easy read that I just didn’t want stop reading, I constantly wanted to know what was going to happen next with Allison. Overall a really captivating read that I just couldn’t put down! Really interested to see what Whitehead writes next!

  10. 5 out of 5

    L T

    Hot Girl Summer has arrived and we are deconstructing our compulsive heterosexuality and internal misogyny by reading literary body horror fiction. I was so lucky to receive this as an ARC, and what a suffocating rollercoaster it’s been to read. First of all, this book is LOUD. The main character, Ali, hit me like a ton of bricks as I recognised so many behavioural patterns within myself that I’ve exhibited in past relationships just as she does with her partner (apart from the ability to absorb Hot Girl Summer has arrived and we are deconstructing our compulsive heterosexuality and internal misogyny by reading literary body horror fiction. I was so lucky to receive this as an ARC, and what a suffocating rollercoaster it’s been to read. First of all, this book is LOUD. The main character, Ali, hit me like a ton of bricks as I recognised so many behavioural patterns within myself that I’ve exhibited in past relationships just as she does with her partner (apart from the ability to absorb those I wish to become). This book is a chilling, unique take on how we strive to be enough in the eyes of our partners, our friends, coworkers and mostly ourselves. This constant internal struggle is bluntly depicted in such a unforgiving fashion— a stream of cutting inner-dialogue, peppered with harsh criticism on how gender roles in relationships perform themselves, how our family trauma can live within us and influence everything about us so quietly. It’s so irreverent to the discourse of identity politics we face in feminism right now, and has hints and slices that bring to mind authors such as Eliza Clarke and Carmen Maria Machado— if you’re a fan of either, oh my god this book is for you. Basically, get reading, get enlightened, get absorbing.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ellie Hawkes

    I read this book so quickly, devouring it, perhaps appropriately, over a couple of night time reading sessions. It definitely gave me weird dreams. And it definitely flits across boundaries – it is a modern love story, a horror story, at times a story of personal development, at others dipping into supernatural mysteries. It is unsettling and engrossing in equal measures. The protagonist, Allison, is a curious mix of being pretty self-aware, calling herself out on her flaws and foibles, and (par I read this book so quickly, devouring it, perhaps appropriately, over a couple of night time reading sessions. It definitely gave me weird dreams. And it definitely flits across boundaries – it is a modern love story, a horror story, at times a story of personal development, at others dipping into supernatural mysteries. It is unsettling and engrossing in equal measures. The protagonist, Allison, is a curious mix of being pretty self-aware, calling herself out on her flaws and foibles, and (pardon the pun) self-absorbed, childish, unable to see how her actions affect those around her until it is too late and the consequences have spiralled out of control. She isn’t particularly likeable, but that is a strength of the book – I have said it before, I’m sure, but we need more dislikeable women in novels. The plot, as is clear from the blurb, is as mad as it sounds. Yes, Allison literally absorbs her boyfriend. There’s no rationalising or metaphorizing it – that is what happens, and then Allison must try and figure out what to do next. You do need to hop on board and accept this premise, but there is a decent amount of Allison also feeling bewildered and confused and trying to figure out what the hell has happened, so it’s clearly not ‘normal’ even within the confines of the storyworld. As we learn more about Allison’s past, there are hints of how this could have come about, but again, everything is hazy and the truth is hard to pin down. Two characters, Maggie and Odile, are remarkably accepting of Allison’s version of events, but by allowing her to share the story of her absorption of Owen with a couple of people, the plot can open out a little to include witnesses to her drama. The story gets gradually darker and more physically uncomfortable – always with the shadowy sense of not being sure exactly what is going on. In this way, Whitehead allies us closely with Allison’s first person narrative – like Allison, we are struggling to make sense of the changing sensations and emotions she is going through. I felt quite on edge reading this book, always waiting for something horrific to happen, for some massive revelation, and I think there is some very clever suspense threaded through the sometimes rather casual-seeming descriptions of Allison limping on with her existence as best she can in the circumstances. There’s a good pay-off for this, though not the one I was expecting, and I got a lovely shiver down my spine when I realised where the narrative was headed. It is tricky to describe my feelings for this book, which is about as far from a warm and fuzzy read as you can get – it definitely provoked a visceral reaction, and I found myself oddly aware of my body as I was reading. There is a delicious warping of reality, a scratching away at the veneer of normality – at one point I couldn’t stop thinking about how bloody weird pregnancy is, having another being growing inside you, at another, I wondered how far loving someone means wanting to be them. This book raises so many questions, and has dark fun exploring them, though it is not necessarily forthcoming with the answers. Relationships, friendships, parent-child bonds are all examined through the smashed surface of a fractured mirror, and it’s a disorientating and weirdly compulsive experience. I would absolutely read more of Whitehead’s work, and I am excited to see what New Ruins comes out with next, too.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ria

    If you've ever been a young, insecure woman in an intense relationship I feel like you'll probably recognise a lot of the feelings the main character has. But her path to finding herself is... pretty surreal. I liked the concept and enjoyed the main character and her unusual background. I did feel like the word "absorbed", and the whole concept of "uh oh I absorbed my boyfriend" was hammered home a lot, I got to a point where it kinda made me chuckle because it felt like the makings of a drinkin If you've ever been a young, insecure woman in an intense relationship I feel like you'll probably recognise a lot of the feelings the main character has. But her path to finding herself is... pretty surreal. I liked the concept and enjoyed the main character and her unusual background. I did feel like the word "absorbed", and the whole concept of "uh oh I absorbed my boyfriend" was hammered home a lot, I got to a point where it kinda made me chuckle because it felt like the makings of a drinking game.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ildikó Connell

    I don't really know what happened but I really enjoyed reading it! I don't really know what happened but I really enjoyed reading it!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    I would give this book 3.5 stars!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Michiel

    Chosen in a whim based on the back cover. Overeen disappointed but I enjoyed this one cover to cover!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Helen

  17. 4 out of 5

    Aana

  18. 5 out of 5

    Siobhan

  19. 5 out of 5

    Emily

  20. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte Cantillon

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kate Baguley

  22. 4 out of 5

    George

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

  25. 4 out of 5

    Vapaem

  26. 4 out of 5

    Hel

  27. 5 out of 5

    Hal

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jasmine Dove

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lucie MH

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Louise

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