Atomised by Michel Houellebecq


OK, so first off.  I now understand that you are not supposed to like this book.  It is supposed to be depressing and a vivid look at the dysfunctional state of society.  I wish I had known that before I started reading it!  Houellebecq is a French writer who does not shy away from any controversy.  He is nasty and dirty, and I am afraid as far from what I enjoy reading as you can get.

I read this book because Andy Miller wrote about it in ‘The Year of Reading Dangerously.’ He loved it so much, and as I thought his book was funny and clever, I decided to add it to my list.   Big Mistake. Huge.

I cannot express how much I loathed this book.  I apologize profusely for having recommended it, and I hang my head in shame if you actually went out and bought it.

I know there are all kinds of commentaries on the state of society and the plight of human beings.  There is much philosophy thrown in to enliven the boredom of a story where little happens.  There will be those who say – ‘stupid woman, you just don’t get it.’

But therein lies the problem.  I do get it, but I hate it anyway.

Two brothers – one a scientific genius, one a social drop out who is utterly obsessed with sex (don’t even get me started on the smut in this book – gratuitous and unnecessary.)

The novel follows their depressing, desperate lives as they find love, lose love, try and fail to have sex, and contemplate suicide.  You know what, within five minutes I hated them both, and that was my problem with this novel.  How can you enjoy a novel when you hate the two main characters.  I felt no sympathy for them, they were just two pathetic specimens trying their best in this mad world.  Who cares?

There were a few funny moments but God knows the novel needed them.

I know the point of a book review is to be objective and look for the balance.  Sorry I have failed miserably here.  I just don’t care enough.

Not one I would recommend.


2 thoughts on “Atomised by Michel Houellebecq

  1. Jay, I feel gratified to know I am not alone in feeling that way about the book! It really did make me feel ‘icky.’ As you say – not a redeeming thing about it! I wonder will I get any comments defending it! If so, I look forward to hearing what is said. Thanks for posting.


  2. I agree completely. I just read it because I was specifically looking for books with unpleasant protagonists, to see how they were written, but this was way beyond. I am sorry to say I didn’t find a single redeeming thing about it – the first book that ever made me feel this way. When I had finally forced myself to finish it, I actually closed the cover and thought, “Houellebecq? F*ck this guy!” An insulting read, and I couldn’t get it out of my house fast enough. I hope I forget everything about it.

    Liked by 1 person

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