The Listeners by Leni Zumas

 

 

 

 

[Click the cover below to check it out! If you don’t see a book cover below it’s probably ad-blocker settings]

[This was one of those times that I was definitely attracted to the cover that drew me to reading the synopsis after. Who doesn’t like octopi, though?]


“This is the story of a woman whose life is shaped by tragedy. Quinn is thirtysomething, a survivor of a fractured and eccentric childhood marred by the death of her younger sister. Twenty years later, she is in the midst of a decade-long slide down the other side of punk-rock stardom after her successful music career was abruptly halted. Sassy and smart, tough but broken, Quinn is at loose ends. She develops unique strategies for coping, but no matter what twisted tactic Quinn conjures to keep her psyche intact, she cannot keep the past away.”

This is one of those times where the synopsis isn’t… wrong, but also… just doesn’t seem right either? The only reaction I could think of after reading it again after finishing the book was definitely:

 


 

First and foremost, this book, at least in the format I have/had, has a mix of cut uncut pages. I kinda loved that, especially since it really matched the feel of this book.

After I finished reading it, I had to sit and process it awhile. There’s a lot of information and concepts within the book that took awhile to try and sort through.

As the synopsis explains, the book is from the perspective of Quinn, a washed up former ‘punk rocker’ who hasn’t known what to do with their life, especially after their band broke up. They come from a strange family and a strange life, and never really got over the terrible death of their younger sister that their family refuses to talk about to this day. [Sidenote, due to random context clues in the book, I am using ‘they’ as Quinn’s pronoun due to them speaking about not quite being a girl, and not born a boy, either]

The way the book is written is probably one of the most unique styles I’ve ever read. It definitely feels more like it’s written how someone speaks, or how someone thinks. It’s all over the place, and there are times where there’s two sentences on a page, to huge unbroken paragraphs, to random scattered paragraphs in the middle of a page.

The book rotates through multiple different timeframes. Quinn’s childhood, the current/present, Quinn’s time in their band, Quinn’s time in school, and random diary entries/song lyrics. There’s no rhyme or reason to the switching around, which got a little confusing at times until you read deeper into said section/chapter.

Quinn definitely reminds me of some people I know personally. So quite often I sort of imagined them as said people I know who also happen to sort of be genderqueer post-band punk dropouts-ish kinda. The main thing that this book definitely emphasized however, is how fucked up Quinn is.

Between a weird-ass childhood with strange parents, and their siblings being weird as well [sidenote, the sister that died also was both a bully and the weirdest of the kids], and then their younger sister dying a violent, terrible death, Quinn has many mental breaks that happens and continue on their entire life. Some of these triggers also include certain foods, smells, hallucinations, and irrational fears/phobias that caused them to be hospitalized [both regular and mental] more than once. Tragedy continues all their life as well, many relationships, including the end of their successful band and music career that ended in the loss of all the fingers on the hand of someone Quinn held dear.

It’s really hard to explain this book without giving key points away, while also actually trying to explain the feel of it.

All I can say is that the book is a wild ride. It’s so weird, but also so good. And definitely fucked up in a lot of ways. You also don’t really get a concrete ending.

Be warned of gore/blood descriptions and starvation/anorexia descriptions as well. [I promise it’s good though]

 


 

I give The Listeners 4/5 Menstrual-Blood-Eating Worms

Rating:

[This book had some amazing quotes. I actually had a lot more, but I narrowed it down to these:]

 

“The clerk had two thumbs on his left hand. One was normal, the other a nub of flesh and nail sprouting from the foot of the normal one. Out of politeness I tried not to look at it, but every time I bought cigarettes there came a moment when he turned and I could watch the second thumb. It seemed to possess a kind of intelligence. A wise baby tentacle with powers of its own.”

“Ever had your ass eaten by two guys at once?”
“Why no,” I said.
“It’s not a laughing matter,” she muttered.

“The sounds this band made were torn wings, crusts of glitter hills, valleys of black flame, clouds cut in three by red lightning, bluish brain rising from cankered feet. Every hair on me pointed at the ceiling. The thick poles of sadness that stood in me were yanked out by the singer’s screeching and howling, and my shoulders fluttered. The drunks were heaving and keeling and thwacking, each hit pulling the veins in my chest closer to the surface.”

 

 

 

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