Currently sitting at a tentative three-and-a-half stars, but I suspect this one will rise in my estimation as I digest it further, much as Never Let MCurrently sitting at a tentative three-and-a-half stars, but I suspect this one will rise in my estimation as I digest it further, much as Never Let Me Go did.
I do love a good unreliable narrator, and oh lord do we have one here. I may try to expand this review later, after some thought....more
The unreliable narration (multiple layers thick) is a bit much at times--stop talking about all the lying you're doing and just get to the point, NickThe unreliable narration (multiple layers thick) is a bit much at times--stop talking about all the lying you're doing and just get to the point, Nick--but it makes for an interesting layer cake of a story. I enjoyed teasing out the truth of what was happening in the marriage and in the disappearance through the filtered lenses of Nick and Amy's narration.
The one (nitpicky?) thing that consistently bugged me throughout, though, is [SPOILERS AHEAD]
the diary. If Amy were really to have constructed this multi-year diary of her life with Nick over the course of the past year as part of the plot, forensic ink dating could've proved that. Yes, there are ways to trick that analysis, but it wasn't addressed as a possibility.
But anyway, the twist was fun, as were the various plot maneuvers as Amy has to think on her feet. I didn't always buy them, but they were entertaining. The ending was satisfyingly twisted. One does wonder, though, how long we're meant to believe that Amy was laying traps for Nick, and how many concurrent plots she had working at once, given the resolution to the story. Though, in fairness, I don't believe that Amy would have gone through with the suicide aspect of her plan. Not that I think she is incapable of that level of self-harm in pursuit of revenge, but because she enjoys watching the suffering she doles out too much.
Ben Affleck is going to be awful in the movie adaptation.
Probably more a 3.5, but I'll round up to counteract the people whose only criticism seems to be "too much profanity" or "the characters were yucky".
(There's not even that much profanity, really. Not if you're in the habit of watching premium cable, or have ever read a Stephen King novel.)...more
This book was problematic. Often engaging, occasionally funny, highly readable, but still problematic. Ms. Flanders never seems to come to a point. ShThis book was problematic. Often engaging, occasionally funny, highly readable, but still problematic. Ms. Flanders never seems to come to a point. She spends a long time discussing several different murders, but she usually does nothing with the facts of the various cases. The subtitle of the book states that Victorians "revelled in death and detection and created modern crime". All right. Revelling in death and (eventually) detection, granted, but "created modern crime"? She does not begin to make this case. If she wished to make the argument that they created modern crime fiction, she has the skeleton of that argument already assembled, though she hamstrings herself by refusing to discuss anything that came after the Victorian era. (If one wants to make an argument about how anything influenced modern anything, one needs to then discuss the modern things.) If she wished to make the argument that they created modern poilcing and detection, she comes extremely close to making that case, too. But those are not her arguments, according to the subtitle. The end of the book wraps with a long discussion of Jack the Ripper, and she seems to be trying to argue that he was a new class of criminal. He wasn't, of course. His kind are rare, but he wasn't the first. He simply caught the imagination of a culture already infatuated with murder, at a time when newspapers were likely to fabricate evidence. Forensic science was not yet advanced enough to determine which murders really were the Ripper, either, and so his attributed body count (variable, even according to Ms. Flanders) may not be even close to accurate. This is the only brush with the "modern crime" argument in the book. Moreover, the Ripper murders took place before some of the other murders discussed in other sections of the book. He was not the culmination of Victorian murder history that she seems to imply. There are other flaws in the book, too. Primary among them, for me, was the tone. The author's commentary is not always intrusive, but sometimes it is. Sometimes it's quite funny, but other times it's snarky for the sake of snark, and sometimes crosses the line right into ghoulish. (See the line about the "fall" that the unforunate, quite possibly innocent, Mr. Lipski was about to take.) Ms. Flanders would be better served by scaling back the sarcasm. The book is not bad. It moves quickly and it tells some interesting stories. Even without my particular fondness for old murder ballads, some of the literature, music, and performance art that came out of the (already longstanding by that point) Victorian murder obsession sounded interesting. Unfortunately, the book never quite rises to its task....more
I think I'd rather have read An Imperial Affliction.
He didn't do the thing that he did in Looking for Alaska--the thing I hate that crops up a lot inI think I'd rather have read An Imperial Affliction.
He didn't do the thing that he did in Looking for Alaska--the thing I hate that crops up a lot in YA fiction--where he writes an incredibly, unbelievably naive teenage boy character who eventually gets fawned over by hyperliterate teenage "sophisticates", of a sort.
Of course, that's because both halves of the featured couple are the hyperliterate teenage sophisticates.
And I will be fair and admit that some of it got to me. But then, reading a book that features a protagonist who will die in the exact same way my mother did just 3 months ago next week (albeit of a different cancer), and reading it on the trip we took to scatter her ashes.... Well, that was bound to be a little fraught.
It's not that John Green is a bad writer. I think he's fairly charming, both on the page and in real life. And given that this book was inspired by a real, now-deceased 16-year-old Nerdfighter, I can appreciate the care Green must have taken in writing it. But still, it was a flawed book. Might give away my copy....more
Haven't finished this one. I got through about half of it on vacation, but once I hit a multi-page monologue by one of the characters about how Karl MHaven't finished this one. I got through about half of it on vacation, but once I hit a multi-page monologue by one of the characters about how Karl Marx could be the savior of the Negro race, I said, "Oh. So that's why Richard Wright liked it so much," and put it down.
Maybe someday I'll finish it, but it doesn't seem likely. I already didn't give a damn about any of the characters....more
I was quite enjoying this book. It's beginning is vaguely Proustian and it seemed to be turning into a delightful, somewhat satirical story of love anI was quite enjoying this book. It's beginning is vaguely Proustian and it seemed to be turning into a delightful, somewhat satirical story of love and loss in the British upper classes. I was already thinking about what I was going to say about homoeroticism in the novel, and the way some of the dialogue seemed more like a delightful collection of nonsequitors than an actual conversation, which oddly made it feel more natural.
Then I realized Waugh meant it to be quite serious. It isn't a satire at all. And now I don't think I can bear to finish it....more
3.5 stars, I think. This looked like a thoroughly creepy YA horror story, but it turned out to be a fantasy-adventure romp. That was a little disappoi3.5 stars, I think. This looked like a thoroughly creepy YA horror story, but it turned out to be a fantasy-adventure romp. That was a little disappointing. And the conceit that all of the photos were of the children in question broke down at a few points--most notably when the last photo of "Emma" showed up, and she was not only a very different person than the first Emma image, but also a great deal older than Emma was supposed to have been.
It's a shame, really, because the found-photo-illustration idea was clever, and many of the photos themselves are deliciously bizarre, in an obviously faked, early photomanipulation kind of way.
Still, the story is pretty well crafted, and for once I've found a teenage boy narrator who isn't written as being hopelessly ignorant about basic facts. (I'm looking at you John Green, and most especially at you, Stephen Chbosky.)
Also, Emma is not a fucked-up manic pixie dream girl, which is a refreshing change from a number of female characters written by male YA authors....more