• We Spread

  • By: Iain Reid
  • Narrated by: Robin Miles
  • Length: 5 hrs and 58 mins
  • 3.9 out of 5 stars (65 ratings)

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We Spread  By  cover art

We Spread

By: Iain Reid
Narrated by: Robin Miles
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Publisher's Summary

The author of the “evocative, spine-tingling, and razor-sharp” (Bustle) I’m Thinking of Ending Things that inspired the Netflix original movie and the “short, shocking psychological three-hander” (The Guardian) Foe returns with a new work of philosophical suspense.

Penny, an artist, has lived in the same apartment for decades, surrounded by the artifacts and keepsakes of her long life. She is resigned to the mundane rituals of old age, until things start to slip. Before her longtime partner passed away years earlier, provisions were made, unbeknownst to her, for a room in a unique long-term care residence, where Penny finds herself after one too many “incidents”.

Initially, surrounded by peers, conversing, eating, sleeping, looking out at the beautiful woods that surround the house, all is well. She even begins to paint again. But as the days start to blur together, Penny—with a growing sense of unrest and distrust—starts to lose her grip on the passage of time and on her place in the world. Is she succumbing to the subtly destructive effects of aging, or is she an unknowing participant in something more unsettling?

At once compassionate and uncanny, told in spare, hypnotic prose, Iain Reid’s genre-defying third novel explores questions of conformity, art, productivity, relationships, and what, ultimately, it means to grow old.

©2022 10804843 Canada Inc. All rights reserved. (P)2022 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

What listeners say about We Spread

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

when your mind becomes faulty....

After listening to Iain Reid’s “We Spread”, I read differing reviews and realized I got something different out of this than I think Reid intended. It’s billed as a thriller, a philosophical suspense story about aging, art, and productivity. From the beginning of the story, which is narrated by Penny, we know that Penny is losing her attachment to reality. My biggest fear in life is losing my mind from some sort of dementia. Reading Penny’s thoughts gave me anxiety.

Currently my neighbor has Alzheimer’s. Penny’s thoughts and feelings reflect my neighbor’s, including the increasing paranoia. I don’t know how Iain Reid was able get into the mind of a person suffering from the cloud of dementia, but he did it. Reid shows the gnawing and disjointed thoughts which leads to paranoia. The disease changes personalities, fooling the dementated into strongly feeling that they are rational. Through Penny we feel her fright, her confusion. Sadly, she assumes that her care workers are not acting in her best interest. This is exactly what is going on with my neighbor.

I digress. Penny is living in an apartment when the story opens. Through unfortunate events caused by her diminishing mind, her landlord moves her to Six Cedars, an eldercare facility which she chose when her mind was good. There are only four residents besides Penny. Hilbert is a mathematician; Peter is a violinist; Ruth is a French-language expert, and Penny is a surrealist painter. Penny moved with all her artwork and is encouraged to continue her work. The minders of Six Cedars, Shelley and Jack, do everything for the residents, including bathing and grooming them and encourage them to continue to “work”. As Penny’s dementia increases, her confusion swells. She loses time. She loses memory. She feels her mind is fine and the minders are trying to trick her.

Those who have been or are currently involved with a person afflicted with dementia, this novel will resonate in an aching way. It’s a haunting story of a woman stuck in her failing mind where she’s living a nightmare.

Robin Miles does a fantastic job narrating.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Meh.

The ending was a rather painful and abrupt conclusion for me, though the premise of the novel was strong and fascinating.
I got totally irritated by the narrator's voice towards the end. Also, she went from dispirited and inert to empowered and rather whiny far more quickly than felt anywhere close to realistic in terms of character development.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Very skilled writer

I can tell that the writer is very skilled. I just need something with a lot more action and a real plot. This book had neither.

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    1 out of 5 stars
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Dreadful

Hated it. Dull, boring and long. I will steer clear of Ian Reid most certainly.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

To the fans of Iain Reid.

This review begins with a story. To skip the actual review, look for the sentence that begins in ALL CAPS.
I was wondering the endless aisles of Comic Con San Diego in July when I happened upon a Simon and Schuster booth. I was handed a pamphlet with the events they were having throughout the weekend. Some random book giveaways, authors that I haven’t read from, etc. Until I got to their Sunday event. They would be hanging out advance reader copies of We Spread, Iain Reid’s newest novel. I’m Thinking of Ending Things is my favorite novel of all time. (I read several books a week, nothing has topped the experience I had reading that novel for the first time). Long story short, Sunday was the only day I didn’t have a pass for, I was devastated. A lady at the booth asked me what kind of stuff I like to read. I told her all about how Iain Reid is one of my favorite writers, how sad I was that I was going to miss getting an arc copy of his newest book. She looked me dead in the eye for a few seconds. We had been wearing masks in the convention center, but I could see a smile grow from behind hers. She turned and ran back to a door and opened it. There was a small room that contained several boxes of books. About a minute later, she comes back with not one, but two ARC copies of We Spread. I felt like I had won the lottery. This was my first Comic Con, but the only thing I wanted to do was run home and crack open that book. We Spread will forever be associated with that memory, and for this, it will always hold a special place in my heart.

WITH ALL THAT SAID. There’s something about this one that simply didn’t click with me as well as IToET or Foe. I’m not sure if it was the character of Penny, the situation, or the antagonist. Something held me back from absolutely loving this.

The novel itself is written with (what I can only estimate) is a single space gap between each paragraph. Like someone hit tab twice before starting every paragraph. This was FASCINATING to see. I’m not exactly sure why he chose to do this, but he did similar things in his previous novels to foreshadow or to flash forward. This was different, but it didn’t hit the same. It made me go, “Huh, that’s neat.” Which is fine, but again, it didn’t feel as important a detail as his previous works. I could have easily missed what his intentions were for that stylistic choice, but, for now, I gotta stick with this gut feeling.

The writing is as clean as we’ve come to expect from Reid. If this were the physical copy, it would be a page turner. He is better than most authors in his readability skills. The voice actress was quite good, however I feel the source material held her back instead of propelled her forward. (In contrast with IToET, which I feel elevated her performance)

With that said. The beginning of the novel made me feel icky. I felt dusty, decrepit, and worn out. Reid has captured the feeling of growing old better than most novelists I have come across. It’s not often that reading a books makes me feel like I need to take a shower. IToET feels like depression, Foe feels like Paranoia, We Spread feels like sheer and utter loneliness. It is Kaufman-esque in that way. I almost wanted a reprieve from that feeling, but it never seems to let up. Which isn’t a negative per se, he definitely got his point across.


All of this to say, my favorite thing about this book was talking about it afterwards with my brother and girlfriend (who read the Arc copies). This one might be the most open to interpretation in his bibliography. Every word is important, every moment has its purpose. Who knows, maybe I’ll grow on this, but for now, this feels right.

For fans of Iain Reid, check this out, please. Few things come out that are as unique as this.


Last thing!
I’ll need to double check this, but I think the arc copy didn’t have a number of scenes that this one did. Made for a fun experience.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

I liked just not enough

The issue I had is that the storyline was spelled out to the reader. the mystery of it all was revealed early on so it became boring. Slower pace without mystery any more I finished listening out of stubbornness not pleasure. I did enjoy the portrayal of the 'elderly'. it was not stereotypical, and it was closer to how older people feel. That part was awesome. it was ok but I would of purchased something else in retrospect.