No, Boxall and Co., this is not one of the books that I had to read before I die. For me, this is on par with The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo - seemingly intriguing plot ruined by clunky, repetitive prose and so much bloat you'd think Murakami was on a strict diet of all salt and no water. The only reason this book gets a second star is that, despite all of my complaints, he still managed to keep me optimistically on board for almost the entire first section of the book. With Larsson's book, I lost the will to live almost immediately.
- "She pulled a book from her shoulder bag and started reading. It was a history of the South Manchurian Railway Company of the 1930's. The line and right-of-way had been ceded to Japan by Russia after the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905, after which the company had rapidly expanded its operations, becoming fundamental in Japan's invasion of China. It was broken up by the Soviet army in 1945. Until the outbreak of the Russo-German War in 1941, one could travel between Shimonoseki and Paris in thirteen days via this line and the Trans-Siberian Railway.
Aomame figured that a young woman drinking alone in a hotel bar could not be mistaken for a high-class hooker on the prowl if she was wearing a business suit, had a big shoulder bag parked next to her, and sat there absorbed in a book about the South Manchurian Railway (a hardcover, no less)."
OK. That first paragraph better end up tying in to some big plot twist later in the book, because if I just sat through that boring ass synopsis of the history of the South Manchurian f'ing Railway Company just to illustrate Murakami's point that a hooker wouldn't be reading something like that.... well, I'm going to be pissed.
- "...did not know why, but ever since the time she was twenty, she had been attracted to men with thinning hair. They should not be completely bald but have something left on top. And thin hair was not all it took to please her. They had to have well-shaped heads. Her ideal type was Sean Connery. His beautifully shaped head was sexy. Looking at him was all it took to set her heart racing."
Haha, wtf? Oh Haruki, I almost feel like you are screwing with us. "Let's see how much weird shit I can get away with writing and still have everyone eat it up with a spoon." Either that or you are one strange son of a bitch. Or you really don't understand women. Most of them, anyway.(less)
A huge shout out to all GR reviewers who mentioned how stellar the last section of the book was. I've had a severe case of reading ADD this year and...more A huge shout out to all GR reviewers who mentioned how stellar the last section of the book was. I've had a severe case of reading ADD this year and have abandoned more than my fair share of books because I wasn't enthralled from page one. I might have done it with this book too, but I was encouraged by the "it gets better" theme running through many of the reviews. It did get better, although it wasn't until about halfway through (right around the lunch scene at the mexican restaurant) that I felt like I was fully engaged and invested in the story. And they were right about the ending. Part 3 of this book ripped out my insides, just absolutely fucking gutted me.(less)
I don't like it when you get to the end of a book and you find yourself flipping back a few pages in confusion because the ending was so abrupt you're...moreI don't like it when you get to the end of a book and you find yourself flipping back a few pages in confusion because the ending was so abrupt you're sure there must be a page or two missing. That's the main reason I'm not giving this 5 stars. I pretty much loved it in every other way. If you're cool with magical realism (those of you unable to suspend disbelief should run for the hills), you should definitely give Aimee Bender a try. Even better, if you're open to short stories start with Willful Creatures: Stories. TPSoLC is great, but Willful Creatures is amazing.(less)
I don't think Shriver meant to describe her own book with the following passage, but she did:
"Remember how sometimes, in the middle, a movie seems to...moreI don't think Shriver meant to describe her own book with the following passage, but she did:
"Remember how sometimes, in the middle, a movie seems to drag? I get restless, and take a leak, or go for popcorn. But sometimes, the last part, it heats up, and then right before the credits one of us starts to cry - well , then you forget about the crummy middle, don't you? YOu don't care about the fact that it started slow, or had some plot twist along the way that didn't scan. Because it moved you, because it finally pulled together, you think, when you walk out, that it was a good movie, and you're glad you went."
Except I'm not particularly glad I went or, in this case, read. It wasn't terrible but it definitely wasn't great either. Most of the characters were so damn unlikeable that it was hard to muster up any sympathy for them. Even worse, though, were the multiple page long rantings about government, healthcare, evil insurance companies, etc. etc. etc. I'm well aware that those issues form the basis of Shriver's novel; however, the rabidness of the delivery was off putting and their sheer verbosity caused my eyes to glaze over and start skimming - probably not the effect Shriver intended. That said, I'm probably not Shriver's intended audience either.
Regardless, I'm reserving full judgement until after I've read The Post-Birthday World and We Need to Talk About Kevin, both of which I have on my bookshelves at home. She's a very talented writer and I'm hoping that this is just a case of the subject matter and the reader not clicking. (less)