Book Review: What Milo Saw by Virginia Macgregor

What Miilo Saw by Virginia Macgregor - Header

When it comes to social media I am a far greater fan of Twitter than I am of Facebook. I have always felt that Facebook is somehow egotistical. That’s it’s “friends” structure forces a culture of boasting and voyeurism, whereas, Twitter is about engagement. It’s about finding people: friends, strangers, companies or brands, and talking, debating, listening. It’s not about showing off but rather, about sharing interests.

And it was Twitter that lead me to What Milo Saw by Virginia Macgregor. My interest in reading and my love of writing mean I like to follow authors on Twitter, whether it’s the obvious “big names” like Stephen King and J.K. Rowling, or the smaller influences on my life like Matt Haig, they provide a constant source of interest with their tweets and it’s through them that I came to be following Virginia Macgregor.

Hamlet The Pig - What Milo Saw by Virginia Macgregor

Macgregor has tweeted often about her book What Milo Saw but they didn’t, directly, demand I read it, in fact, it’s been more a war of attrition to get me into its pages. A constant flow of reviews and praise for the book littering my timeline, subconsciously wearing me down and creating brand knowledge until I decided to read the book, not because I really wanted to but rather, because I had spent so long looking at its title that I thought I should see what it was all about. And I really do mean that, I started reading with absolutely no idea what to expect, what it was about, or where it would go apart from the fact it involved a boy named Milo. In fact, I’d become so blinkered to everything around it I didn’t even realise there would be a pig in the story yet it’s screaming off the cover at you.

Sadly though, the story I found just wasn’t for me. My initial problem was that I don’t think it really knew what it wanted to be. It all just felt a bit too fluid and therefore, a bit too lacking. It doesn’t quite have the focus to be a character story told through the eyes of Milo because it spends too often talking about other characters, but then it also doesn’t have the depth to make the other characters feel anything other than side plots to Milo’s story. It was just a bit “six of one, half a dozen of the other” and as a result, ended up as a slightly stale, almost lifeless story that never drew me in or tugged at me emotionally, or really got going.

Pied Piper - What Milo Saw by Virginia Macgregor

I think the lack of bond is also down to the plot being completely farfetched and at times, implausibly naive. As I’ve hinted, it tries to centre around Milo, a nine year old boy, but too often he would do something, say something, behave in a way that I just couldn’t accept or believe. Too often the world would spin around him in a way that I just cannot accept would happen in real life. He’d talk people into situations with a simplicity that couldn’t exist. People would bend over backwards. Indulge him without thought or care, as if everything was normal and routine and not, unrealistic and daft.

I also couldn’t shake this feeling that too much of its plot was written not to add narrative depth but rather social context. Characters lives felt designed to make them relevant to now, to current agendas, rather than making them real people that you could connect with. And this just created a greater friction between myself and the text when they’d happily, and blindly, follow the lead of a 9 year old boy on his wild goose chase. The book just lacks responsibility of adulthood to stop, look, listen and think.

Banksy I Want Change - What Milo Saw by Virginia Macgregor

I hate to say it, but the more I read the more the story became an immature muddle of uninviting beige. It never got inside me, I didn’t hate reading it but it never became encompassing. Nothing really ties together, or has enough structure or explanation to really make you feel like you understand it’s inclusion. I still don’t really see the need for the pig, some of the side characters, or Milo’s eye condition. Even worse though, because it’s story is very linear and under developed, it’s completely predictable. You can see the twists coming pages, even chapters, before they do and this simple, obvious direction meant I found it very, very slow. It goes from A to B at one pace. Just ticking along, unemotional and implausible, cold and dull.

To me, What Milo Saw just felt a bit too much like a story designed for a social purpose rather than narrative imagination. It’s fashion fiction and nothing more. It’s a story you read because everyone else tells you to, rather than because it’s actually any good.

Posted on by 5WC in Book First Edition

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