Book Review | Decompression : a novel by Juli Zeh

An unusual but enjoyable read, book cover decompression by juli zehDecompression takes place on Lanzarote in the Canary Islands. The story’s four main characters are two couples, Sven and Antje and Theo and Jola. Sven and Antje live on the island and run a diving school. They left Germany when Sven finished law school and tired of the lifestyle, wanted something simpler and more free spirited. Theo and Jola are tourists visiting from Germany paying a hefty sum for two weeks of Sven’s full attention. Jola is an attractive TV actress hoping to land a motion picture role and Theo is an aging writer with his debut novel more than a decade behind him. Shenanigans between Theo and Jola get in the way as Sven teaches them to dive in the Atlantic. The story gets interesting as a questionable relationship arrises between Sven and Jola and foreshadowing tells of something horrible to come.

As you can probably tell from the book’s blurb, this novel is by no means a happy read. Author Juli Zeh does, however, draw the reader in right at the beginning and keep his interest right until the end. Sven is the main narrator, but sections of Jola’s diary are woven into the text in a manner that prompts the reader to question which account of events is true. Amazon says this book is a psychological thriller, and it sure has a few thrilling moments, but overall it seems to be more of a slice of life story, allowing the reader to step into shoes very different from his normal worn slippers. If you appreciate dysfunctional, or at least abnormal, relationships, this would be a good read. Another blogger aptly compares it to Herman Koch’s The Dinner. Check out the English translation of this German novel at a library near you or look for the ebook.


About amy de simone
Amy is an active volunteer, traveler and photographer. She is interested in art, libraries, museums and nonprofits. She holds an M.A. in Library & Information Studies and a B.A. in Italian Language & Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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