Jennifer McMahon's Don't Breathe a Word almost earned a five star rating. It is a fascinating supernatural mystery that is not too heavy on the supern...moreJennifer McMahon's Don't Breathe a Word almost earned a five star rating. It is a fascinating supernatural mystery that is not too heavy on the supernatural, and blends just enough myth and magic with literary fiction to make it a wonderful read. The style flows well, and the plot is both engaging and interesting. In fact, it was a hard book to put down. It was, in fact, a five-star novel all the way up until the last couple of chapters. What went wrong? For one thing, I feel that the revelation and wrap-up of the mystery was too quick. Too many major clues appeared massed together near the end. If they had been spread out a little more it would have left readers time to wonder and try to work out the mystery themselves, and that would have made the last part of the book better.
Beyond that I was disappointed that one of the main cohesive mysteries in the book, the identity of the Dark Man, was never really revealed. (Well, I suppose in a way it is revealed, but in a way it isn't.) We know that he is referred to as the King of the Fairies, we see in an old newspaper article that another woman thought he was the Devil, and we see hints that he might be mostly in the protagonist's head. Throughout the entire book I kept waiting for some revelation about the Dark Man's true character, and I was disappointed that one never appeared.
Other than those two things, however, the book was engrossing and enjoyable. If you like good literature as well as supernatural mystery, you will probably find a lot of pleasure in reading Don't Breath a Word.(less)
I don't usually like romances, due to the fact that they are too often trite and angst-filled fluff, but I loved this book. It was just as much a stor...moreI don't usually like romances, due to the fact that they are too often trite and angst-filled fluff, but I loved this book. It was just as much a story about self-discovery, sisterhood, society, and environmental activism as it was a story about love. Barbara Kingsolver's style is wonderful, as usual, and she grabs readers' interest from the first page. The plot is involving, retaining my attention despite the fact that it was slow to reach the main conflict, and had just enough folkloric flavor to make it curious and well-balanced. All in all, Animal Dreams is a wonderful novel. This book kept me up more than one night because it was too good to put down.(less)
There are some books that soak into your memory like an old stain, not always obvious but always there when you look for them. Then there are other bo...moreThere are some books that soak into your memory like an old stain, not always obvious but always there when you look for them. Then there are other books that imprint themselves on your soul. Markus Zusak's the Book Thief is one of the latter. It demands your attention, and invites itself into your daily thoughts. In some slight way, it changes the way your mind works.
The narrative's charm is a culmination of expertly assembled parts. The style is poetic and unique, utilizing descriptions that are unexpected yet still perfectly accurate. The voice of the narrator, Death, is perfect: distantly compassionate, eloquent, and perceptive. The characters are believable, often revealing their personalities inch by inch until the end. The novel itself combines simple, honest storytelling with a complicated emotional tangle. As a result, it is able to deal with difficult issues without being either too restrained or too maudlin.
The Book Thief is as much a story about childhood and coming of age as it is about the horrors of Nazi Germany and a young girl's attempts to understand her place in it. The larger issues almost sneak up between anecdotes about childhood mischief and and homely concerns-- tales in which even modern readers will see odd flashes of familiarity. That connection is a part of why the narrative touches one so deeply.
Zusak's book is one of those delightful stories that demonstrates its own theme: in this case, the power and beauty of words. Simple phrases are woven together to paint a poignant masterpiece on the canvas of the imagination. And make no mistake, the Book Thief is a truly beautiful work of art. It will break your heart, but it will leave you smiling through the tears.(less)