Monday, September 16, 2013

**Blogger 'Duel' Review ~ The Radleys ~ Matt Haig

The Radleys
The Radleys by Matt Haig
Genre: Literary Fiction
Release Date: September 20, 2011
Source: Purchased Paperback

Just about everyone knows a family like the Radleys. Many of us grew up next door to one. They are a modern family, averagely content, averagely dysfunctional, living in a staid and quiet suburban English town. Peter is an overworked doctor whose wife, Helen, has become increasingly remote and uncommunicative. Rowan, their teenage son, is being bullied at school, and their anemic daughter, Clara, has recently become a vegan. They are typical, that is, save for one devastating exception: Peter and Helen are vampires and have—for seventeen years—been abstaining by choice from a life of chasing blood in the hope that their children could live normal lives.
One night, Clara finds herself driven to commit a shocking—and disturbingly satisfying—act of violence, and her parents are forced to explain their history of shadows and lies. A police investigation is launched that uncovers a richness of vampire history heretofore unknown to the general public. And when the malevolent and alluring Uncle Will, a practicing vampire, arrives to throw the police off Clara’s trail, he winds up throwing the whole house into temptation and turmoil and unleashing a host of dark secrets that threaten the Radleys’ marriage.
The Radleys is a moving, thrilling, and radiant domestic novel that explores with daring the lengths a parent will go to protect a child, what it costs you to deny your identity, the undeniable appeal of sin, and the everlasting, iridescent bonds of family love. Read it and ask what we grow into when we grow up, and what we gain—and lose—when we deny our appetites.


Several months ago, my blogger buddy, Lectus, listed The Radleys on her The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly list. I told her that it was on my TBR as well. She asked if I wanted to read it together and I thought doing a 'duel' review would be lots of fun. It was! I hope y'all enjoy it!


L ~  I'm going to start at the end. How did you like the ending of the book?

BB ~ I quite liked the ending. I thought it was very fitting, keeping the tone of the novel. It was an HEA nor was it grim. It was a compromise of sorts. There were second chances allotted, and the Radleys were choosing to live in a way where they no longer ignored their true nature - acknowledging they did not have control over every aspect of their lives. However, they weren't swinging to the opposite side of the spectrum either.

I know you ended up liking The Radleys, but is there something specifically about the story that spoke to you?

I liked the rules to de-vampire themselves! It was a satire that wasn’t overly so; it had meaning and feelings. I totally loved and understood how Rowan felt! Oh, I was in love with a boy since I was 13 until…. About four years ago that we finally kissed and it wasn’t all that. I was like, really? You are already a granddad and don’t know how to kiss? Plus he squeezed my breasts like they were flour and he was trying to make bread!

You started at the end...I'm starting at the beginning...sort of. What made you pick up this book? What about it appealed to you?

I picked this book because I read its review somewhere... I just don't remember where anymore! After reading the summary, I was hooked because I like vampires, just not the ones that are so beautiful that women fall in love with them with the blink of an eye. Except for Twilight, that is.

I initially picked up this book because of the title. As a fan of To Kill a Mockingbird, when I first saw the title I was hoping for a book about Boo Radley's family. Then I read the blurb, and it had vampires so I was hooked. But I had no idea how much I would enjoy this satire!

I read To Kill A Mockingbird but didn’t make the connection! Great memory lady! I had no idea the book was going to be like it is; I just though that it was a different take on vampires (he is so beautiful that I already love him, etc.), and that is why I read it.

The Radleys lived a suppressed life. Do you think it compares to how we live today? In order words, do we, like the Radleys, suppress ourselves to conform with society?

I think in many ways we do suppress ourselves in order to conform with society. I feel like we all, in some fashion, ignore out true natures in an attempt to fit in and be liked. And we use 'guide books', whether it be the Bible or a self-help book, to show us how we should live to have fulfilling lives.

Which one was your favorite character and why?

I really liked Helen, although I have to say she redeemed herself in my eyes quite a bit towards the end, which made me like her much more. She is a very conflicted character and she had a varied perspective on how to live life since she'd lived both as an unblood, a practicing vampire, and an abstainer. I also liked Peter. I admired that he continued to live as an abstainer to honor his wife's wishes. However, I think my favorite character is Rowan. I like characters to experience a lot of growth and development and I felt like Rowan was the character with the greatest growth. He went from not even knowing his true nature and suffering because of that, to having other secrets about his life also revealed and the repercussions on his psyche from those revelations, to essentially being redeemed.

I'd also like to know your favorite character and why. I'm interested to see if we picked the same one.

Definitely Helen! I like conflicted characters with OCD. She was obnoxious but came through at the end. I liked Peter too, but you asked for just one, so.....

I did have a bit of trouble liking Helen because of some of her secrets. Did this not bother you or did it just add to her appeal as a conflicted character? And what did you like about Peter?

I was totally hating Helen at the beginning. Why won’t you just let your husband be? But as I read and understood what was going on I came to like her. I liked that Pete wasn’t all-pious like Helen. He had trouble taming his nature and Haig showed us that. On the other hand, Haig didn’t show how Helen was coping which made her seem cold hearted and total bitch.

What are your thoughts on Mr. Haig's references from The Abstainer's Handbook?

I found the Handbook to be a nice addition to understand where their "rules" came from.... at first. I enjoyed the short references, but I totally skipped the pages where the references were too long!  

I can't believe you skipped those references!! LOL They really added so much to what was coming next - plus, they served as a lot of comic relief. I liked it that it felt as though The Abstainer's Handbook was satirizing the Bible.

Ahem… I skipped the references from The Abstainer’s Handbook because it was delaying my reading of the actual thing? BUT, when I finished the book I went back to read the references :-) I just didn’t want to stop to read that when I wanted to see if Rowan was actually going to kill – what’s his name? His classmate on the bike.


Haig could actually publish the handbook by itself, like a guide to stop being a vampire of something like that.

By the way, did Haig left any literary figure out? Apparently, every famous deceased person was a vampire. Even my favorite poets, Byron and Blake. Although I read somewhere that she left three people out. Was it Virginia Wolfe and Plath? I don’t remember.

Oh yeah, I loved that he included so many famous writers, poets, and pop culture icons! Yes, he did neglect Virginia & Sylvia both. :) But the people he says he left out were Elvis Presley, Marquis de Sade, Edgar Allen Poe. (I googled it)  Poe is a shame...he'd have made a great vampire! LOL

I just had to give you a hard time about the Abstainer's Handbook references...but I'm glad you went back and read them. Haig could absolutely publish TAH on it's own. That would actually be hysterical!

Elvis did look like a vampire! Too handsome and smooth. Did you see that movie by John Cusack about Poe? Very nice. And I personally think that Marquis de Sade WAS a sexual vampire. Have you read any of his books? I used to (well, 2 books) but they were too much even for my deviant self.

You're right - Elvis did look like a vampire! LOL

No, I didn't see the movie about long ago did it release? And no, I have read Marquis de Sade but now I'm intrigued! LOL

Thanks, Lectus! This was so much fun!!!


  1. Tis was such a fun review and an awesome idea. You have deff piqued my interest with this one. Great review guys :)

    Teresa @ Readers Live A Thousand Lives

  2. The ending sounds good, and this is such a neat way to review

    1. It IS a good book with a good ending, Brandi. And the review was great fun! :)

  3. I totally forgot to give you the name of the movie!!! Well, you know how it is :-)

    Is called Raven and here is the link

    I'm not a fan of Poe but after watching this movie I just look at his work differently.

    1. Yeah, I know exactly how it is! LOL Thanks for leaving it though. I happen to love Poe - don't know how I missed the movie. Oh wait, I do... LOL I'll check it out though. Happy Monday, Lectus!

  4. Very cool review! I love that y'all did this. De-vampire rules? That is very interesting!
    Thanks for the fun review, ladies!

    1. Thanks, Andrea. I really did enjoy both the book and the review. :)

  5. *applause* What a great duel, ladies! So much fun to read your back and forth about The Radleys! And of course, now I have a new book to add to my TBR :D

    This is a truly excellent idea, and I hope you'll do other duels in the future - very clever.

    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

    1. LOL Thanks so much, Lexxie! The Radleys was a lot of fun - Mr. Haig poking a finger at society. And I do hope to do more duels! ;) I was thinking we could do one for Ignite Me!

    2. That would be awesome, Brandee! I really look forward to Ignite me - and it would be fun to bounce ideas off each other while reading and after!

  6. I read this pre-blog. I remember liking it but I found it has flaws. I was looking for more background about his vampires but as the story is specific to the family, I guess it makes sense that he kept the focal point on them. I liked it but I felt it needed a sequel or something.

    Fantastic post!

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Braine! Yeah, it'd be great if Haig did a sequel. I enjoyed it quite a lot though (4 stars) just for its satirical look at society. :)

  7. What a book conversation. I love the back and forth. I love it when characters I started out hating evolve into the ones I look forward to reading. Cat's mom in the Night Huntress series is one of those characters. This is such a great idea and I love the fun you brought to the blogoshpere. Oh, surprisingly enough, I haven't watched that movie, but I remember the previews.

    1. Helen was definitely one of those characters, Robyn. Although I'm gonna admit she grew on me more than Cat's mom did. LOL I'd love to duel with you sometime. Oooh, maybe we can both watch The Raven and do a duel movie review! LOL

      Thanks, Robyn!

  8. I haven't heard of this book until just now reading you guys' review, which by the way was very fun and creative! Thanks for sharing your thoughts about this book. I also love vampires so I may end up adding this to my never ending TBR Pile.

    Kayla @ K.G. INC

    1. I'm glad you stopped by, Kayla! The Radleys is a fun book - and it lent itself perfectly to doing a duel review. :) I hope you enjoy it if you ever decide to read it.


Now you know what I think...what are your thoughts??