*Ahoy! Spoilers ahead…*
This isn't my usual type of book, so I'm finding it quite hard to write about it. I definitely didn't love it, but then as I don't read this sort of thing very often it's hard to judge whether that is just because it's not my usual type! I know that it was nominated for the booker long-list though so I'm assuming it must be a good one of its type.
I think my personal favourite thing about it all was the backdrop - it's a really hard setting to write against and he must have done so much research into Russia's history to be able to feel as though he could tell this story appropriately. It was an interesting story to tell, purely because reading it now I'm sure that these sorts of crimes were covered up in exactly this sort of way, although I'm not sure how many have-a-go-heroes would have been around to try and fulfil their own vigilante justice systems?
I didn't know that this was a trilogy until I read the blurb at the end, so I read it having no idea what the fates of the main characters would have been. I found the ending a little bit oh-so-convenient, and I think that if I had known that there were two more books to come (and therefore I think would have assumed Leo would make it through OK) I would have found it a bit more of an annoying read; I didn't feel there was a huge amount of jeopardy as it was. I felt it was so clear from the start that we were going to read about Leo's redemption and journey into becoming a hero that I found his relationship with Raisa a bit of a by-line - you could tell that she was just a plot device to pit Leo's personality changes against. That's all well and good for a storyteller, but it did make me care little for whether she lived or died.
I did wonder why the Andrei / Pavel story was told at first, but I just figured it was a backstory to set the scene for us about the harsh realities of Russian life. I have to admit, when Andrei's name was first revealed it didn't ring any bells at all - it was only when I learned Leo's name was Pavel that I flicked back to the first chapter to double check the names and realised where the book was going. I also found the resolution with Andrei's character a bit disappointing - I don't think enough was done to make the reader have any sort of understanding as to why Andrei would behave that way (his brother left = he becomes a serial killer.. really?!) and Leo / Pavel's reaction to the situation seemed muted - I was left wondering why more wasn't made of the potential connection between these two men if this was what the whole book was leading up to? Maybe that's something for the sequel, I don't know.
I don't think I'd read the next one in the trilogy but the book I got had the film poster as the cover, which has Tom Hardy in so I might watch that if it comes on telly! I'd prob give it 5 out of 10 - I read it quickly and generally enjoyed it, but I have no inclination to read the next one. I think, for me, the ending was just a bit too neat - it was a pretty long book but everything got tied up really nicely within about 20 pages.