Wow!! Reading OOLA makes me feel like they don't make books like this anymore, books that are this PACKED with poetic language and poignant observations. OOLA is such a phenomenal read, with some truly innovative use of language and sharp insights into modern life. It tells the tale of a writer named Leif who wants to create a 100% accurate character based on his girlfriend, Oola. Most of the book takes place in Big Sur and it's very much a California sort of book. The excitement of the novel mainly comes from the tensions between Oola and Leif as Leif starts to go off the rails with his obsessive project. Because of its structure, Nylon called this book "the millennial Lolita," which is pretty apt! There's also some elements of magical realism, with some surreal plot points that will leave you wondering whether Leif has lost his mind. The book is told from Leif's perspective so of course you can't really trust anything you learn about Oola - the book is mainly about the narrator and his obsessive (destructive) tendencies, but it's also about the way that love, desire, and sex work in 2017. All in all, it's a book that you should savor, not read too quickly, so that you don't miss any of the rich language. But it's sexy and surprising, and would make a great movie - OOLA is a love story that turns into a psychological thriller. If you wanna be savvy to what's going on in 2017 - read OOLA now.
I devoured this book, and completely loved every page. I am buying it for everybody I know. Newell's mastery of language is completely unparalleled in anything I have read by a contemporary author. Even though the book is quite dark at times (which makes it even better in my mind), Newell strikes such a raw and meaningful cord on the confusion and delicacy of the post college years. She writes about moments often overlooked by authors and screenwriters but that every reader can relate to. This brings so much humor into the plot. This book is for anyone who wants to feel shocked, embarrassed, entranced, challenged, and certainly entertained (I laughed out loud many times while reading). I see Newell rising fast and I have no doubt that one day she will be considered the voice of our seemingly disenfranchised generation.
5.0 out of 5 starsWritten by a woman from the perspective of a man about love for a woman
June 18, 2017 - Published on Amazon.com
Impressive debut novel that's stuck in my mind since I read it. Written by a woman from the perspective of a man about love for a woman, it makes you feel just how thin the line can be between what we perceive as romantic in art and what is unhealthy obsession in practice. The prose is gorgeous, the story is uncomfortable in a piercing way. Excited to see what she writes next.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel recommened by my friend. Brittany Newell puts an interesting spin on a "stalker" that thoroughly absorbs themselves with the "victim". I look forward to following the career of this young and talented author.
5.0 out of 5 starsWell-Written, Strange Story of Obsession
May 11, 2017 - Published on Amazon.com
"Oola" is a strange, poetic novel on the nature of obsession. It examines the relationship between nomadic, artistic twenty-somethings named Leif (our narrator) and Oola. It is clear from their first meeting that Leif has intense "feelings" for Oola... but the true depths of his fixation are exposed in his increasingly unhinged descriptions and bizarre behavior. As it becomes evident that Leif is an unreliable narrator, you are left wondering: what does he *truly* want from Oola?
Leif is not alone in his madness; beautiful Oola has her own demons (or should I say "aliens?") to face and Leif's unhealthy dependence on her does not help. I wish we could hear their tale from Oola's point of view, as Leif describes her in such perverse adoration that you can't fully conceptualize who Oola is--though, I suppose that's the point.
Overall, "Oola" is more a character study than plot-driven novel. It is not a fast read. It is an experiential book that rewards patient readers with a chilling story that unfolds slowly and carefully; subtle hints and turns-of-phrases that gradually reveal the broken psyche of its two leads in such a masterful way you think: "Oh! It's been there all along!"
Brittany Newell clearly has a way with words and a unique perspective--I found myself bookmarking several delicious passages of prose. Here is a bit about "fainting" I enjoyed:
-- "That's what's so nice about it. Fainting, that is. When you come to, you can't help but fall in love with the first person you see. It's not romantic. It's like this weird ecstatic human need, this burst of gratitude as you come back to life. Because that's how it feels: like you're resurfacing from some very dark, very soft, very lonely black pit. I visualize it as a lake, with water like oil. When you're right on the edge of a faint, when your vision gets spotty but you're still trying to stand, the lake seems to lap up to you. It's just so tempting. You want to give in. And you do. You sink into it... and it's so nice to fall backward, with this velvety weight on your chest. And then, waking up, you pierce together this person, hovering over you, and their hands are so gentle, and their voice is so soft, and for one moment they are the whole world to which you're returning." (p. 114)
As you can see, her writing has a very specific cadence--her words are rhythmic and this "rhythm" sets a clear, increasingly frenzied (increasingly manic?) tone for the novel. I cannot wait to read more from this very talented author!