Vernon Subutex 3 — Virginie Despentes

I’m bereft that this trilogy has ended. This is the third and final instalment of the Vernon Subutex series — and what a finale!

I anticipated a dark end but I wasn’t expecting it to be quite so bleak, as the genre bleeds from intrigue with a dash of fantasy to straight dystopia.

As the book begins, events do seem too good to be true — the eponymous Vernon and his group of friends are content living their unconventional, undocumented life. Then, with gathering speed, everything begins to spin out of control, and the violence that surfaces only briefly in volumes one and two becomes much more integral to the plot.

The series is an addictive account of France in the 2010s, in the wake of the financial crisis and Charlie Hebdo and Bataclan terror attacks. But what I found most compelling about this book is how it considers what it means to be lost and found. Each of the characters has lost their way in some sense — and at times do literally go missing in this volume — only to find their place, unexpectedly, in this group of misfits. But when the wrong person is looking for you, being found can be disastrous.

It’s quite unlike anything else I’ve read. If you’re up for a trilogy that gets increasingly dark (though is also often darkly funny), then I can’t recommend these enough.

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