Man vs Bookshelf

Man vs Bookshelf: Silence

This entry is part 13 of 104 in the series Man vs Bookshelf

I’m not looking forward to writing this review, and the world knows it.

I have a routine. I like my routine, and it irks me when I am shaken from it.

Every morning I get to work forty-five minutes early. I open my mini laptop, I open Scrivener, and I do whatever stage of my Man vs Bookshelf review I’m on.

Today that would be writing the first draft of my Silence review. Okay, so that’s now Yesterday, but let’s leave it in as a nod to first draft Mark.

As I mentioned, I’ve not been looking forward to it, so I need everything to go right.

But the world doesn’t know from routine.

So it would have to be this week that my laptop didn’t charge meaning it ran out on Tuesday. By the way, I’m writing this on a Wednesday. (Now redrafting on Thursday)

I took it home Tuesday night but forgot to charge it. So now it’s under the desk behind me charging up and being of no use whatsoever.

I’m on my work PC, and I hate working on my work PC.

Yes, I know how that sounds.

I don’t have Scrivener on here, so I’m writing this review on Evernote, and that is ALL WRONG.

To clarify that point, I’ve nowt against Evernote. It’s just not routine. It’s not what I’m used to.

I can’t handle change.

So expect this review to be a teenager. Angsty, resentful, and pretty spotty.

Expect it to be these things, but don’t write it off because of it.

Hell, you never know, might make it better, right?

Shusaku Endo and Me

There should be a couple of accents in that name, but we’ll have to make do without because I don’t know how to add them.

That’s why he looks so put out.


Until last year’s (2016) adaptation of Silence was released, I’d heard of neither book nor author.

The film, starring Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, and Liam Neeson, did not appeal to me.

Unlike with I Am Legend I was not enticed to go and read more about the story or author. I would never have been tempted to pick up the book, had I seen it in a bookstore or on Amazon.


And that sort of thing usually tempts me.

But, the fates saw this challenge ahead and decided they’d like to have a little fun.

Last Christmas, they were giving out free copies of the book to promote the film.

Not knowing the damage it would cause, my grandma plucked up several copies and brought them to ours.

Despite the book being free (I love free) I still didn’t want to read it. So I left it at my parents’ when I returned home, hoping never to see it again.

As I said, the fates had other ideas.

Sometime later my parents returned the book to me, and I looked upon it with disgust.

I should have thrown it away.

I wanted to.

But I’ve never been very good at throwing things away.

So on my shelf it stayed, and there it would have stayed forever.

If not for this bloody challenge.


There are plenty of books on my shelves I’m not jumping with joy about reading, but only two or three I actively dread.

Silence was one of them.

It didn’t seem like my kind of book. It’s set in sixteenth-century Japan. It’s about faith and religion (if those are different things) and a lot of it is written in letter form.

But there’s no escaping any books in this challenge, and it’s not very long, so I picked it up, and went for it.

The Story

Silence is, at its core, a straightforward story.

Two Portuguese Jesuits named Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver (or something) travel to Japan in the hope of finding their old teacher, Liam Neeson (or something).

Rumours have reached Christianity that Liam has apostatised. (I.e. stomped on a wood cutting of Jesus and renounced his faith).

In disbelief, Andrew and Adam stow away with a Japanese coward and sneak into Japan.

Upon arriving they find Christian communities in hiding and become a source of hope. Lifting spirits while the Japanese rulers capture and torture Christians. Forcing them to renounce their faith.

After splitting up, Andrew and Adam are both captured. Andrew is chucked in prison, and the Japanese try to convince him to apostatise.

The rest of the novel deals with Andrew’s struggle over his faith and his decision over what to do. Give up his faith, or try to front it out at the cost of not just his own life, but the lives of others.

A situation that ends up being lose-lose.


Not much happens in this book, outwardly. Priests go to Japan looking for their old Father. They are captured, and our hero is kept in prison for most the rest of the book.

That’s about it, but I suppose the point of the story is not so much what happens outwardly as what happens on the inside.

I’ve never been religious.

That’s not to say I don’t believe in ‘something’, but I don’t follow a religion (on Twitter or otherwise)

I remember being in school and wondering why people such as the Protestants during Bloody Mary’s reign didn’t renounce their faith and avoid a horrible death.

I still don’t understand now.

It’s okay to lie in such situations.

Like in Harry Potter when Dobby tells Harry all he has to say is that he won’t return to Hogwarts and Dobby won’t smash dessert.

Easy, just lie.

If I was God (a prospect I’ve considered many times) and I saw good worshipers being threatened with torture if they didn’t renounce their faith I would be screaming “just say what they want you to say, dickhead, don’t die!”

It’s ridiculous.

A lot of Silence deals with Andrew’s internal struggles. About faith, and the nature of renouncing. Whether it is okay. He also thinks a lot about Judus, and his (Judus’) purpose in the Bible, and why Jesus allowed him (Judus) to be such a dick.

Though he doesn’t phrase it like that.

I can see how, if the torment of spirituality and faith spoke to you, this would be a fantastic book. Martin Scorsese professes to have read it twenty times, and I’m sure that says a lot.

But it was never going to be for me because I couldn’t relate to the internal struggle.

I just wanted him to lie, get released, and get on with his new life.


Letters from characters

The second half of Silence was better than the first.

This is primarily because of another device I never like in fiction.

The ‘letter’ narrative.

For the first half of the book, the story is told through letters from Andrew to someone back home.

This is something I’ve never liked.

Maybe that’s just me, but it didn’t help in a book I already wasn’t enjoying.

Sum up

I gave Silence a 2/5 on Goodreads.

I think that’s the first time I’ve done that, not only in this challenge but on Goodreads.

Part of this might be I was expecting not to like it and didn’t give it much of a chance.

I could see it’s appeal, in a way. But as a novel based around spirituality and on a period and place in history I have little interest in, I suppose it was never going to be for me.

Still, got to get it out the way, and on to the next one.

Next time

I spoke about Harlen Coben in my review for The Cuckoo’s Calling, and now I’m opening one up for the first time this challenge.

It isn’t a Myron Bolitair novel, but it is one of his most popular books and one I’ve never read before.

So next week we’ll be diving into Six Years.

See you then.

Series Navigation<< Man vs Bookshelf: Confessions of a SociopathMan vs Bookshelf: Six Years >>
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International worst-selling author Mark Ayre has been writing since before he could pick up a pen (somehow). An author of mystery and suspense novels including the James Perry Series of mysteries.

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