Golly. What a poor book. And what a let down of a sequel.
The original "The Gold Coast" had the right mix of fun, intrigue, a glimpse into a world we'r...moreGolly. What a poor book. And what a let down of a sequel.
The original "The Gold Coast" had the right mix of fun, intrigue, a glimpse into a world we're not used to, an enticing setup ("The Great Gatsby" meets "The Godfather"), and an amusing/snarky narrator.
This? Well... DeMille was clearly grasping (desperately?) for whiffs of those successful elements this go around. The result was a bloated (seriously: 770 pages?!) mess that spends the first half (yes, almost 400 pages) rehashing -- and then rehashing the rehash -- the story and relationships and history of the first book. And not by weaving these elements delicately into the story as it unfolds. Nope, the reader is bludgeoned continually with the events of "The Gold Coast". And not as if these events were intended for readers who skipped book 1... because they would've "gotten it" in the first 50 to 100 pages. No. This felt as if the author couldn't manage a sustainable plot... and then spent the first half of the novel figuring out what was supposed to happen in the novel.
Which may sound repetitive, but, well...
Oh, and the plot is boring, hardly existent, and ends up really consisting of (minor spoilers -- kinda but not really) a letter... and not knowing where someone is. That's it.
I'm guessing this is going to end up being Michael Crichton's last novel. Probably. Given he was in the midst of writing it when he passed away, I gue...moreI'm guessing this is going to end up being Michael Crichton's last novel. Probably. Given he was in the midst of writing it when he passed away, I guess there could be additional "in development" opportunities.
That said, it was fun, buttered popcorn novel I've come to expect from the late Mr. Crichton. As close to Classic Crichton as any of his last 5 books or so, which I thought were pretty average. If you grew up enjoying his style, definitely give him one last read.(less)
Not bad. A bit of a knockoff as Cussler attempts to rope James Bond into things -- the secret agent is now retired, approaching 70 and under an assume...moreNot bad. A bit of a knockoff as Cussler attempts to rope James Bond into things -- the secret agent is now retired, approaching 70 and under an assumed name so the Russians won't come after him. The plot is rather scatter-shot as well. But, still the typical Dirk Pitt romp around the globe and through a variety of impossible hijinks. Woo.(less)
Just what you'd expect from a Cussler novel. Which can be decent, quick reads. This one is just a tad more bland than others, relatively predictab...moreMeh.
Just what you'd expect from a Cussler novel. Which can be decent, quick reads. This one is just a tad more bland than others, relatively predictable, and Pitt doesn't really seem to do a whole lot in this installment. Not a whole lot of "high adventure" to speak of.(less)
When I dislike and am so disappointed by a book, I'm torn between wanting to explain why I had such an issue with i...moreWow. What an awful(ly boring) book.
When I dislike and am so disappointed by a book, I'm torn between wanting to explain why I had such an issue with it and not wanting such a time-sink to take up any more of my time. So, in brief:
// Expectations With a catchy title and hook (Charles Lindbergh elected president in 1940 and leading the U.S. on a path eerily similar to Germany several years earlier), you are left with a certain level of expectation. Like maybe some intrigue, some espionage, a few thrills. Nope. None of those.
// Intentions A big thing for me in judging a book is by comparing it to what it was meant to be. So what is THE PLOT AGAINST AMERICA meant to be? It (apparently) is meant to be a fictional memoir of the author during his youth as the "what-if" unfolds. ... which again leaves me confused at the "a novel" proclamation on the cover along with the cover review claiming it to be a page turner. At best (for me, yes), it is a bloated, plodding, mind-numbing remembrance by a 9 year-old of 20% of what you'd like to read and 80% of some of the more pointless and boring anecdotes first-person writing has delivered in a long, long time.
// Is it really that bad? I'm troubled by Roth's execution on the book. He's regarded as a wonderful author, but -- this being my introduction to his work -- I can't help but feel that he couldn't decide how to write the book... even once he'd finished it. He attempts mightily to write from the mind of a young boy, but then rips the reader from this mode of storytelling to an awkward fire hose of third-person "news" informing the now-detached reader of what comes next. It's an annoying crutch for Roth to use. Disappointing too. If he couldn't convey the story in a gripping and comprehensive manner through his faux memoir, then tacking on such a hefty storytelling band-aid only makes things more cumbersome.
(And if I as the reader am to assume he wrote this as an adult looking back, then I'd hope that same adult would recognize the pages and pages of tiresome side-stories that do little more than bulk up the book's length and water down the plot to a point where boredom is all but assured.)
// Wow. This is harsh. Apologies. Sort of. Though I think any reader would be hard-pressed to say Roth is any less harsh. I'd heard in the past of Lindbergh's and Henry Ford's anti-semitic remarks to the public during this period. And I completely understand the venom their words would instill in people of Jewish descent who lived through such times. And *yes* such an extrapolation as Roth's "What if" leads to some intriguing and potentially terrifying possibilities. (And I think the desire for this intrigue and this terror coupled with the lack of execution was what left me so disappointed.)
The problem for me is that Roth gets so completely wrapped up in the venom itself that he poisons the novel with it. While I certainly rooted for Roth's family as the story unfolds, the plodding pace and the repeated blunt force of his condemnation of "President Lindbergh" (as well as most every non-Jewish American in the tale) left me screaming at the book "I GET IT! LINDBERGH WAS A HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE, BAD, BAD, BAD, BAD, BAD, BAD MAN!! GET ON WITH IT!!!"
// As Monty Python said... "Get on with it! In the end, that's what THE PLOT AGAINST AMERICA left me with: a better understanding of the value of a good editor. Then again, if he'd stuck with the newsprint parts of the novel, it'd be a 30+ page short story... But (which was my hope once I altered my expectations to the book being a faux-memoir), what if Roth had stuck to his guns and kept the entirety of the book to a first-person narrative of a 9 year old himself? Wouldn't the ambiguity of what's going on at a national level have kept the reader in a place of worry and suspense? Wouldn't our perspective have been better aligned with his? Wouldn't that have forced Roth to tighten up the story and therefore toss aside so many of the detracting chunks of story that bloat it to the point of morbid obesity? ... And in doing so probably shorten up the book while making it that much better?