The Antagonist by Lynn Coady

Gordon "Rank" Rankin, Jr. is the type of guy that people size up immediately upon meeting him. Larger than other kids his age, he comes across as your typical hockey enforcer and most people expect such behaviour from him. As much as he tries to fight this, it soon catches up to him and he finds himself in trouble, putting everything he has worked for in jeopardy.

But it isn't this incident that has Rank all riled up. Decades after a troubling run-in with the law changed his life, Rank discovers that a university friend has written a book based on his life. Painted as a goon and criminal, Rank is angry that his one time friend has betrayed him. And he is determined to set him straight.

The Antagonist by Lynn Coady is an intriguing, unique novel. It is written in the form of Rank's emails to his former friend Adam who has written a novel based on Rank's life. Rank is determined to correct Adam about his life, angry that Adam has left out some crucial biographical information that made him the young man he was - the death of his mother. However, through the course of the emails (never from Adam), Rank comes to see that the book is not really about him, and Rank manages to find a peace about his life as the reader comes to understand why Rank has spent his life feeling so tormented.

I was really impressed by the writing, how the narrative using emails really added to the story. Even as Rank took tangents and began talking about other parts of his life, my interest was kept. The format gives an interesting view of what could be just another story. The character of Rank is misunderstood and heart-wrenching, you can't help but be drawn to him and feel sorry for him. His emails are angry and honest, there is a complete realness to him that jumps from the page.

This book is a great read. It is a page-turner that will grab hold of you emotionally. It is a quick read but one that the reader will also find themselves invested in. Rank is a character that doesn't leave you once you have turned the last page.


  1. I just finished this book a few days ago, but I didn't enjoy it as much as you. I wasn't able to feel much toward Rank as a character. It took me a while to actually enjoy the book for what it is.
    Good review,

  2. Thanks for your comment Jules. It's always nice to hear when people feel differently about a book and why.


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