Book Review: The Biggerers by Lecturer Amy Lilwall
The Biggerers is Amy Lilwall’s debut novel. Despite its title, the story is about the the littlers as much as the biggerers, and two main littlers in particular - Bonbon and Jinx.
The littlers were created by a corporation to give playmates to a society that has become reduced to units – people that merely function. The essence of compassion, of humanity seems to have faded. No one has children anymore, and people do not die.
These playmates, the littlers, stand to about a foot tall, they are naked, they are affectionate, and contained. They cannot, and indeed are not allowed it, communicate with their biggerers.
In this dystopian future, this dynamic soon changes. Littlers develop increasing affection, and care for each other. They fall in love. They get sick. They notice that they are like their owners, but smaller. Then they get found out.
The Biggerers is a clever, witty, and disturbing book. What gives it this edge is that it feels within the realms of possibility – plausibility even. Within our current climate of shifting politics, centralisation, and the kaleidoscope of conflicting social pressures, the idea that something can be genetically created for the satisfaction of humankind is not unreasonable. We modify our landscapes, our food, even our bodies to suit ourselves. Why not modify our playmates?
Lilwall’s world then is familiar, and not. She is masterful in creating this familiar/unfamiliar-possible/not-possible tension in the dystopian future, which is sustained throughout the book. To the reader it is obvious that Bonbon and Jinx (and others) are smaller versions of biggerers, but the reader also knows that the littlers are blissfully ignorant of it. Lilwall’s ability to convey this naivety in detailed description is genius, and often hilarious.
The reader is on the side of the littlers – right from the start, you want them to work it out. You want them to be fully themselves. The active question is whether they will - and maybe then what they can do with it.
In The Biggerers, the cast of characters is extensive. Lilwall’s narrative switches between them, making it overwhelming at times. This ramps up the complexity of the story. It takes some stamina, but because you are vested in Bonbon and Jinx from the start, the patient reader is rewarded. You want Bonbon and Jinx to work it out, but at times you are not even sure that they will survive. The littlers are vulnerable in their world, but they find strength and determination. The tension builds and builds, and as it rolls towards the climax (no spoilers here) I could not put the book down.
The Biggerers is a contemporary novel, with incredible prose. This helps build the strange world that the reader must navigate. It is in her dialogue, and inner-dialogue, that Lilwall surpasses. This drives the action and the story. With this winning combination, The Biggererslends itself to Book Clubs. They will revel in the narrative, but also the big themes - humanity (or lack of), morality, heroism, loneliness, and survival.
Lilwall’s writing is strong and confident. She is an exciting novelist with an outstanding debut novel. The Biggerersis a vibrant, clever, witty, disturbing, and utterly rewarding read.
by Julia Webb-Harvey