Nix excels at world-building, which, as usual, is showcased in Saturday. Sorceress Saturday's realm is beautifully worked, with new classes of DenizenNix excels at world-building, which, as usual, is showcased in Saturday. Sorceress Saturday's realm is beautifully worked, with new classes of Denizen's, new personalities and gorgeously depicted scenery. Saturday is also the most clear moral play of the books discussing the motivations and trustworthiness of the Will, the Old One, and Arthur himself as he progressively becomes less human. However, I agree with other reviewers -- this reads like a work unfinished. Every other book contained gaining both the Will and the Key of that day, except Saturday. There is not really a clear contextual reason for the book to end -- it is neither a conclusion, nor a major cliffhanger, simply the book concludes. ...more
I expected the book to come as billed: "An intricately intertwined set of narratives hiding a shocking family mystery." Instead it was 1. Snippets ofI expected the book to come as billed: "An intricately intertwined set of narratives hiding a shocking family mystery." Instead it was 1. Snippets of an interesting science fiction story, told by unknown lovers, padded with 2. An excruciating story of two young, insipid, girls and their coming of age. The beginning of the lives of the girls was interesting to develop setting and character, and their adulthood (the end of the time described in this part) was predictable, but at least relevant. However, for the middle 300 pages, this becomes an interminably long day-by-day description of everything that they ate and wore. In addition, because these girls are so completely insipid we are treated to the details of how they hate absolutely everything and aspire to nothing, which is a little less than endearing. However, this is still not the most insufferable of the three parts, because the remainder of the book is 3. The nominal framing device. Less a story on its own and more to remind us how "clever" Atwood is in her prose style, this framing device seems to consist of determining how many ways the narrator can find to remind us that she's old and her heart bothers her. She goes to eat donuts. She reads the graffiti on bathroom stalls. She has chest pain, a lot. She tries to do her laundry. Rinse, lather, repeat.
Even without much in the way of plot (that which there is having been telegraphed 300 pages in advance), this book could have had literary merit if the characters had been at all interesting. But instead Laura and Iris are the most frustrating characters known to my literary world. For example, Iris complains bitterly about getting married away to a rich man, for which one may have sympathy, had she not spent the proceeding 100 pages explaining how she wanted to be rich and she expected to marry money to get there. Laura is flighty and "spiritual," and disobedient, in such ways as to be maximally irritating but accomplish nothing. However, if Laura ever directly told anyone anything there wouldn't really be a book, so there is that.
The other most frustrating part of this book is the "unknown lovers" framing device for the Blind Assassin story. It is obvious to the reader who the unknown lovers are; however the characterization in this segment is so drastically different from that of the others (in that the female protagonist of this section, unlike every other female character in this book, has opinions, expresses them and acts on her will.) It is unclear whether this is done in a futile attempt to obscure the identity of the unknown lovers, or because the story is being told by an unreliable narrator (which makes little sense, given the final identity.)
Addendum, 12/11 - having finished Oryx & Crake it feels nothing short of criminal that Margaret Atwood spent time writing this book when she is clearly capable of so much more. ...more