A few weeks ago I received an email from FMCM asking if I’d like to review Tubing by K.A. McKeagney.
I read the blurb and wasn’t entirely convinced:
Apple Tree Yard meets The Girl on the Train in this erotically charged, psychological thriller.
Polly’s life is dull, every day seems the same, until after drinks one night in London, someone catches her eye on the tube – and her world is turned upside down.
The attraction is electric. They lock eyes. They kiss. But suddenly… he’s gone.
A frantic online search sees Polly track down her perfect stranger and they arrange to meet again via Twitter, during rush hour. What starts off as an exciting liaison on a crowded carriage soon turns sinister as he lures her into the murky world of Tubing.
At first she keeps it separate from the rest of her life, but things soon spiral out of control, and a horrific incident makes Polly realise not only how foolish she has been, but how her life is in danger.
I replied to the email and asked if it was more of an erotic / sexy book or more of a thriller / romance, because I don’t like erotica and I skip every sex scene I come across. I was assured that the sexy bits were mainly in the first third of the book, but the rest was more of a psychological thriller with a romance element. OK, I thought, let’s give it a go.
My policy for reviewing books used to be that if a book was sent to me for review by the publisher or author, I’d read the whole thing even if I didn’t enjoy it because I felt bad otherwise. Over the past couple of years, however, my philosophy on books has aligned with my philosophy on wine, relationships and most other things:
Life’s too short for bad books / wine / relationships / anything.
Nowadays when I meet a book I don’t like, I give it about 100 pages to see if it improves. Sometimes a book can be a bit clunky to begin with, before it settles into its personality. This is especially the case with debut novels. But if I still hate it after 100 pages or so, I give up.
On this one, I gave up on page 71, because there was no way this book was going to become acceptable.
First of all, there was way too much sex for it to be classed as anything other than an erotic novel. Even if the level of sex diminshes later in the book, that’d still mean you’d have to get through a shedload of people shagging each other on the London underground before you’d reach any kind of storyline, and if you’re not a fan of erotic novels that probably won’t please you.
The writing was very unpolished, to the point of being distracting. If the story is good enough I can forgive this in a debut novel – I’ve tried writing novels myself and I know how hard it is to get it right – but this book doesn’t really have anything going for it. Just look at how many one-star reviews it has on Goodreads and you’ll get an idea of how bad it is.
I wanted to take a look at the author herself online, because one of the other problems I had with the book was some casual racial stereotyping that was already present in the first 50 pages or so. K.A. McKeagney seems to have deleted her Twitter profile, so I couldn’t get a good look at anything she was saying online, but in her picture on the publisher’s website she seems white. Obviously white women writing books isn’t a problem, and including BAME characters is great because it’s important to have diversity in storytelling, as long as it’s done sensitively. I was honestly surprised to discover that McKeagney is a woman, because reading the first 71 pages of her book made me think it’d been written by one of those white men in their late twenties / early thirties who make racist comments when you’re at the pub and then insist they’re just doing it “for the bantz.”
I wouldn’t recommend this book, as you’ve probably guessed; and I also wouldn’t recommend looking out for any of the author’s future works. I can’t imagine them getting much better unless she does some serious reflection on how to write, and on how she views people of other races.
Tubing by K.A. McKeagney will be published by RedDoor on the 10th of May 2018.
I received a free copy of an advance proof from the publisher in exchange for a review. In reality it’s difficult to tell if this affected my view of it, but I think it’s fair to say that if the publisher had been controlling what I was going to write, they probably wouldn’t have asked for this.