Cover Image: Children of the Sun

Children of the Sun

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Member Reviews

Great audiobook, something different from what I'd usually choose but thanks to NetGalley I picked something different for a change and I was glad to discover a new author for me!

Thanks so much to NetGalley and the publishers for letting me listen to this audiobook in exchange for my honest feedback.
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3.5 stars   
Covering the neo-nazi movement in the UK from the 70’s to the 00’s, this book is well researched & educational but gritty & hard to read due to the litany of violence, racism, & homophobia that’s relentlessly & graphically depicted. 
[What I liked:]

•The prose is intense & immersive in a way I found engaging. Sometimes it’s almost beautiful; usually it’s confronting & in your face—even when describing an idyllic setting—which fits the overall tone of the book. Sometimes it veers into purple territory, but not often enough to have dampened my reading experience.

•I like that this is an unabashedly queer book. 
•The subject matter is pretty interesting, & I learned a lot from it. Partly because of the continuing rise in nationalist & neo-fascist groups in my own country, & partly because of my interest in the history of rock music, I’ve done some reading on the movements this book covers. I especially liked the inclusion of articles on the politics & the music reviews (including perspectives from both pro- & anti-fascist activists). Those helped frame & give shape to the chronology of the book since it spans several decades.

•The story is built on compelling contradictions, on characters’ attempts to compartmentalize conflicting & self-destructive beliefs. This unfolds over time against the constantly shifting loyalties in the neo-facist movement(s), in different ways for different characters, & is realistic in the sense that it never gets wrapped up neatly or happily resolved for most of the characters. This framework provides the space & depth to explore the many difficult themes the book takes on.

[What I didn’t like as much:]

•Some of the prose is a bit purple, in the sense that some descriptions are OOT & come across as trying too hard; it’s slightly comical at times when I’m pretty sure it wasn’t intended to be.

•Tony is a hard to read character. I felt a lot of sympathy for him: the ostracized kid with no friends or family support, sucked into a toxic movement that he can’t escape, afraid to be himself & find intimacy. 

All the same, I can’t respect his lack of direction, his failure to stand up for himself, that he seemingly never matures emotionally or ethically even by late middle age, that he “solves” his issues with violence & substance abuse, that he never questions nor truly owns his professed beliefs, & that he really TRULY is deplorably racist at heart.

•James is just straight-up a hard to like character. He’s selfish, doesn’t treat his partner well, is petty & passive-aggressively mean, to some extent gets off on his fascination with real life hard core fascists, & doesn’t value himself enough to accept the love & support he’s offered.

•It’s kind of the point of the book so there’s no false advertising, but there’s no break from the extreme racist/fascist/homophobic rhetoric & violence. It’s hard to read, painful & nauseating. I don’t think the book is meant to glorify this stuff, but sometimes it got near to crossing that line (or that’s how it felt to me; that’s not the writer’s intention according to the afterword), especially with it seeming to condone Adam’s casual cosplaying as a skinhead & his fetishization of an evil, toxic movement. 

•Um, whatever happened to Dennis? I feel cheated that we never find out.

CW: racism, homophobia, graphic violence, underage sex, literal fetishization of Nazis, substance abuse

[I received an ARC ebook copy from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. Thank you for the book!]
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There didn't seem to be a direction this book was going. I felt lost many times listening to this. Maybe les shock value and more content.
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This was a rough one for me and somewhat triggering. The novel focusing on the British Neo-nazis of the 1970/80s was a gritty historical study. There are some very lyrical passages through out the work, but a great portion reads somewhat like a soap opera, with dramatic, sexual interchanges broken up with characters in deep introspection.  I didn't find Tony or James to be likable characters, which is somewhat the point, but also didn't find any supporting characters enjoyable either. It left me with a feeling of not really caring what occurred to these characters throughout the novel. I will say that the amount of research completed for this book was astounding and quite impressive.
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Many thanks to Netgalley and Saga Egmont Audio for providing me the audiobook version of Children of the Sun in exchange for an honest review.

And to be honest, this is a hard book for me to rate and review. Like many other readers, this book was definitely out of my comfort zone in a political sense. Since it focuses on the skinhead movement, i.e neo-nazism in England, I would definitely not consider this book as a light read. There are many trigger warnings, including the following: violence, homophobia, rape, child abuse, racism, racial slurs, pedophilia. 

This book taught me a lot of historical things that I wasn't familiar with. I didn't know that homosexual individuals had a hand in the skinhead movement in the 70-80s. And reading about these characters was fascinating, to say the least. 

The story was complex and the characters were compelling. The author knows what he's doing and he knows these characters like he's met them in real life. 

The structure of the book was kinda challenging for me because it switches p.o.vs and timelines and I listened to it as an audiobook. I was often lost, trying to make sense who are the characters in the chapter.

There are two MCs narrating their own stories. First we have Tony and his story starts in the 70s. He's a a gay teenager but gets involved in the skinhead movement. Then we have the other MC, James and his story starts in the early 2000s. James has a complicated relationship with the teenager Adam who is quite promiscuous. James' ambition to write a screenplay about the neo-nazi movement gets him involved in shady, dangerous things.

 I couldn't get attached to the main characters, as they weren't the most likeable people. And their life choices weren't the smartest. 

The audiobook's narrator (Joe Jameson) did an excellent job. Listening to Children of the Sun as an audiobook heightens the aggregation of the story. I found that to be a positive thing. 

As a compelling narrative filled with historical details and serious societal problems, I do recommend this novel to anyone who likes to get out of their political comfort zone. Just beware of the trigger warnings.
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