The Habit (2006) Review: The Habit By Cate Kennedy

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The Habit (2006) Review Htet Aung Naing When creating fiction, a realistic setting does not guarantee a realistic story. Stories set in a world parallel to our own have to obey the same laws that people obey in real life, as such the conventions of how a particular character would react to a situation would be limited to how a reader would expect a real person to. These conventions, customs and laws are out of the author’s control, so they must write their story around these rules. Whereas in a fantasy setting, the rules that govern that world are created by the author, who has the authority to sculpt their world around the plot, potentially molding the rules of the world to become plot conveniences. Regardless of the fictional percentage…show more content…
Set in a contemporary environment, it follows the first-person perspective of a woman in very late stages of cancer, who decides that rather than spend her last months of life strapped to a hospital bed, that she would fly out to Colombia and smuggle three kilograms of crack cocaine back to Australia and die high on crack. As much as I understand how anyone would do anything to avoid the pain of cancer and the associated chemotherapy, the way the protagonist almost jumps at the opportunity to have an excuse to get cranked up on cocaine is nothing short of worrying. In the story, it has never been explicitly stated that her cancer had developed to a terminal stage. From the scene where she reflects on initially having been told she had cancer, the only assurance readers get that her illness is terminal have only come from the protagonist’s internal thoughts. Not very trustworthy information, especially as we learn that she outright refused the treatment her doctor had suggested she take. The story presents her train of thought as immediately jumping from “Oh no, I’ve got cancer,” to “Hey, my doctor can sign my passport so I can go to Colombia and smuggle cocaine”. So far, she’s ticking quite a few boxes for an unlikable protagonist. Impulsive, addictive, and pessimistic. She just seemed so eager to give up on life, and that’s a trait I’ve never seen in anyone…show more content…
Analyzing the theme of Cate Kennedy’s other works included in the Dark Roots anthology, in particular What Thou And I Did, Till We Loved, and The Testosterone Club, it becomes obvious that she’s a big fan of strong female protagonists, pushing a message in all of them to stay true to what one believes in, especially in the face of adversity. Every secondary character in The Habit exists as an accessory to the main character, to glorify her actions, to help her succeed in the path she had chosen for herself. If the storyline were realistically portrayed, she wouldn’t have been allowed to leave for Colombia in the first place, or she would have been arrested trying to return. And that doesn’t make for a very strong and independent main character, does it? Not very feminist of her. Can’t have something like that. As much as the message of self-integrity makes for a warm and fuzzy story to read once in a while, the delivery has been botched pretty badly in the technical sense, exposing it as mediocre when analyzed at the kind of depth I have just
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