Title: Riddled With Senses
Author: Petra Jacob
Date Added: January 28, 2017
Date Started: March 19, 2017
Date Finished: May 14, 2017
Reading Duration: 56 days
Genre: Young Adult (YA), Magical Realism, LGBT
Shares Paradigms With: The Slow Regard of Silent Things
A tale of love, drugs, cynicism and magic set in the late nineties. It is told from the perspective of two seventeen-year-old girls, Jitty and Hazel; in the style of magic realism, where the grime of real life can be morphed by the characters’ imaginations.
Jitty is a recluse who has created a world of magic to keep herself company. She secretly interferes in the life of the townspeople, including Hazel’s friend, Vurt. Hazel is a wild cynic on a course of self-destruction.
One stormy night their paths cross as the lightning flashes. Their brief relationship is intense, swinging from beautiful to ugly, as Hazel’s cynicism and Jitty’s innocence prove a terrible match.
From then on, Jitty, Hazel and Vurt each pursue their own route to madness; as drugs, magic and a dance with the Devil take control. This ends on one final night, after which their lives are changed forever.
Every now and again I find a story that contains a sliver of the mess that is me, what I couldn’t explain if I had all the words of a thousand tongues. I cling to those narratives like a desperate climber to the skin of a stony peak recalling the piece that fit against my more jagged edges. But then sometimes a story comes along that lays bare the thoughts in my inner sanctum, forces me to face them, and wonder how much of a facade I’ve been keeping up for all these years. Thoughts yet coalesced made visible and presented in a world that could either be magical realism or drug induced haze.
Told in both the first and third person, taking place in the millennium’s last year, Riddled with Senses splits its time between Hazel and Jitty, first person and third, and these two are opposites who eventually come into union. Hazel is cynicism incarnate. It is the bitterness that blooms during the transition to adulthood when you start to see the world for what it really is, that shocking destruction of hope gifted to us from the fairy tales of youth into the putrid maw of the mundane and coarse. She and her friends fight it with drugs and delusions of their own grandeur, but even in the midst of their highest highs, there’s a sense of futility.
I don’t believe in a state of maturity. Adulthood is a simulacra. These sofa-buying, mortgage-paying chuckleheads are as confused as we are, pretending that paying the bills, raising kids and ignoring the dust and shit thickening a crust on their souls is something they understand
I want to buy five copies of this novel and leave it in random places for people to pick up and read.
There are only so many revelations you have before they all become meaningless.
I love the taste of these words. They’re random, scattered, and deliciously mad, yet they weave the lives before you in such brazen relief.
But that moment never comes. I’m never broken enough to get fixed.
When Hazel meets Jitty, it’s like a train crashing into the wall of her cynicism. The ginger haired whirlwind reminds me of Auri from The Slow Regard of Silent Things. In psychological terms, Jitty would probably be considered obsessive compulsive. She has created routines that she must follow. A watch that she stops and follows the direction of the numbers, directives only of her own creation. She sees the glow of goodness in everyone where Hazel sees pus. Their relationship is doomed from the start, but the day she climbed through her window and took residence under her bed was the best sober day Hazel can recall.
They are a unity of opposites, but it is a unity that cannot hold. Both the reader and Hazel know Jitty will leave her, realize her cynicism will drive her away, and the end of Riddled is less that and more just a close on this episode of these teenage lives.
This is not a book of blatant revelations, but rather smaller, much more profound ones. Hazel does not change. Jitty doesn’t change. The drug induced delusions of grandeur continue as they stumble inexorably towards an adulthood they’ve already scorned. None of them want to turn into the drooling blobs planted in front of screens, ignoring the squalor, yet they still have the sense that they’re mocking just for the sake of mockery. Because this end seems fated no matter what they do. What Hazel learns at the conclusion is how to pretend, and whether this farce will bring her and Jitty back together is up for speculation. She doesn’t truly believe her friend Vurt can create a new universe, but all the rest of them seem so convinced that she learns to cage her spleen, and that may be the lesson after all. Not to deny who you are, but to not allow bitterness to rob others of what they could possibly achieve even if failure is fated, and any point will fade like smoke from a joint.