Book Review on Atkinson's Normal Rules Don't Apply

Normal Rules Don't Apply book CoverKate Atkinson’s Normal Rules Don’t Apply is a remarkable collection of eleven interconnected stories that expertly blend the complexity of its narrative with profound themes of human nature, the disruption of time, and the power of storytelling. Notably, it’s her first full collection in two decades. The stories present a unique multiverse where nothing is as it seems, offering a blend of magical realism, dystopia, and connection that left me both perplexed and intrigued.

To say that the stories are varied would be an understatement. From talking animals, apocalyptic voids, and enchanted princesses to duped lovers, these tales are a testament to Atkinson’s ingenious creativity and keen social observation. Dominated by a sense of existential anxiety reflected by the multiple presentations of the end of days, they capture an ease surrounding the characters and narratives. I found myself stunned by the memorable scenes and dialogues that Kate Atkinson seemingly crafts with effortless mastery. The characters’ often-nonsensical experiences are a daring exploration of the boundaries of storytelling. Atkinson has a unique ability to conjure connected worlds that cleverly bring together the sense of chance in people’s lives, leading to deep connections. One particular favorite of mine is Franklin, who really didn’t deserve what happened to him!

Normal Rules Don’t Apply spans from the ordinary struggles of the human condition, capturing them with both honesty and sensitivity. The juxtaposition of the ordinary against the extraordinary makes the reader reflect on both personal aspects of the human condition and societal shifts over time. It’s a narrative that, perhaps, particularly resonates given the challenging times we find ourselves in. The stories are witty, wise, subtle, and imaginative, making for a truly captivating read.

Book Discussion Queries on Kate Atkinson's Normal Rules Don't Apply

  1. Which story did you find most unsettling and could you elaborate why?
  2. In The Void, Genevieve expresses a tinge of irritation about the missed opportunity to hoard products from Waitrose’s shelves after the Void. Can you shed light on why such a seemingly insignificant detail holds importance amidst an apocalyptic void?
  3. Should the experience of The Void become a reality, how do you anticipate you would react?
  4. Kate Atkinson peppers the novel with various social and geographical nuances. For instance, Franklin’s mother rarely discloses her Lincolnshire accent. How did you react to this juxtaposition of mundane details set against extraordinary circumstances?
  5. While Normal Rules Don’t Apply is a swift and easy read, the themes it explores are deep and complex. Did the book provoke deeper thought or introspection in you?
  6. Which short story did you connect with the most and why?
  7. Spellbound incorporates elements of the classic tale of Snow White where she isn’t murdered but abandoned in the woods. If you found yourself in a similar predicament as the Queen, forced to slay the hound, would you proceed?
  8. Which story appealed the least to you and what elements hindered your enjoyment?
  9. Franklin often fabricates responses to hypothetical and genuine queries that he doesn’t necessarily believe are accurate. Can you decipher his motivations for doing so?
  10. The tale of Skylar and the Prince in Puppies and Rainbows concludes in tragedy for her. What message do you think Atkinson is communicating through this narrative?
  11. What reasoning do you think Atkinson had for naming the story of Skylar and the Prince Puppies and Rainbows?
  12. How would you sum up the character of Pamela as portrayed in Shine, Pamela, Shine?
  13. How would you compare Kate Atkinson’s Normal Rules Don’t Apply to Sarah Mosse’s Summerwater

Book Club Questions on Normal Rules Don't Apply (for if you haven't read the Book!)

  1. Based on its title and cover, what are your expectations for Kate Atkinson’s Normal Rules Don’t Apply?
  2. Discuss the potential significance of the title Normal Rules Don’t Apply. What themes or situations do you anticipate it might suggest?
  3. The book comprises a collection of interconnected stories. How do you feel about this narrative style?
  4. How do you feel about short story collections in general? What are your expectations for this one?
  5. Normal Rules Don’t Apply draws from a range of genres, from magical realism to dystopia, to crime writing. What is your favourite genre of writing, and why?
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