Fishbowl - Bradley Somer

"The passing of a particular moment can't erase the fact that it was once present".

Ian is a goldfish. Just a standard orange goldfish. Although, there is something different about Ian, it's the fact that he is plummeting from the 27th floor of his owner's apartment. On his way toward the ground he observes the lives of the other occupants in the building, how diverse their lives are but how they come together to conquer loneliness, grief and phobias.


An appealing factor of this book was the flip-book animation of a falling goldfish down the margin. The physicality of a book is never a high-ranking factor for me but this one just couldn't be left in the shop based on that alone. It set the tone for the book which was for lack of a better word, fun. After reading IT for nearly two weeks solid I needed a fun break and this was the perfect choice. The concept of a whole story being based on a goldfish's observations was original and thoroughly enjoyable, Somer brings a world alive within a small apartment building through the little fish and it's an incredible achievement. Individual characters became compelling examples of every type of person in our societal cluster and their experiences were emotional enough for me to form a connection with them.


Fishbowl carefully stands the balance between fun narrative and thought-provoking concepts whilst combining the two in Ian the goldfish's narrative. He debates the existence of life, his place in his fishbowl and the fragile friendship with his snail neighbour, Troy. Friendship becomes a theme for the book that we saw in nearly every separate story, with most intertwining in a beautiful conclusion. We meet our characters all in unhappy situations but ultimately finding the missing connection to bring them into the realm of happiness. Katie and Garth's separate stories are my favourite, Katie starts being obsessed over a boy and Garth is hiding a secret he can only express in the confides of his apartment, alone. They travel their path through darkened stairwells and the shining lobby floor to their destinations of happiness which made for a happy ending I was hoping for.


A time traveller story-line was not what I was expecting for this book, although I wasn't sure what to expect from a goldfish based narrative, but it didn't do much for me. It added depth and anguish to our youngest character Herman but I think the story was a little lost on me and the book good have been written slightly differently to bring these characteristics out of Herman.


The question on my lips when I started the book was "Are we just going to read until Ian the goldfish plummets to his death?" - let me assure you that (and it doesn't ruin the book) he survives and fulfils his wish of travelling further than his glass bowl.


This was a wonderful read and it has earned it's place on my bookshelf for years and re-reads to come. Although there were sections of the book I didn't love the book was all-round enjoyable and a pleasant experience. Thank you Bradley Somer.




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