The majority of the reviews panning this seem to be upset that it's not melancholy or a downer and doesn't taWhat a fun, enjoyable, interesting read.
The majority of the reviews panning this seem to be upset that it's not melancholy or a downer and doesn't take itself seriously enough. (How could the protagonist make jokes at a time like this?!) But I really think that's part of the story's charm. This is an adventure, not a "thriller", and good-on the author for making it an enjoyable ride.
Should be fun when it's released as a film starring Matt Damon, too....more
Me: "I wish I could give this book less than one star." Glader: "Well you can't." Me: "Is there a reason?" Glader: "Maybe." Me: "No, but seriously. I'd liMe: "I wish I could give this book less than one star." Glader: "Well you can't." Me: "Is there a reason?" Glader: "Maybe." Me: "No, but seriously. I'd like to know why." Glader: "Don't worry about it, greenie." Me: "It seems like a useful question. If I can give a book a full 5-stars, why can't I give it an empty 0-stars?" Glader: "Look, you shucking shank. Maybe I know the answer, and maybe I don't. But I'm not going to tell you because when you find out the answer, you'll totally klunk your pants." Me: "So you're withholding simple, known information for the sake of mystery?" Glader: "Maybe." Me: "But, that's not how mysteries work. Mysteries actually present bits of information and misinformation throughout the story to keep the audience engaged and guessing what the solution might be." Glader: "Maybe it's not supposed to be a mystery then." Me: "Uh, that's entirely what it is. What's the maze? Who built it? How do they get out? The core of the book is a mystery. So yeah, it's meant to be a mystery." Glader: "Listen, greenie klunkity-klunk shuck-shuck-shuckity shanker--" Me: "Do you think those are swear words? Glader: "Klunk right I do!" Me: "Because the other gladers clearly know real swear words and how bodily functions work, and I haven't seen a moment in recorded history when teenage boys would shy away from actual cussing in front of other teenage boys." Glader: "I have a reason, ok. Don't ask, though. I might suddenly reveal why in 100 pages or so. For now: just do what I tell you." Me: "Do whatever you tell me? Without reason? Has any teenage boy ever been ok with that?" Glader: "If I told you the truth, it'd shuck your mind." Me: "Pretty sure it wouldn't." Glader: "In a book where – time and again – the only possible solution turns out to be... the only possible solution? I'm pretty sure it will." Me: "...You do have a point." Glader: "Shuck right I do!" Me: "But that's one of the reasons I want to give it 0-stars." Glader: "Really? That's the only reason? Klunk-yeah!" Me: "Well, there's also the under-developed plot, the flat writing, the mindlessness of every character except for the protagonist (who himself has no personality), how every time a hardship arrives a different character throws up his arms and says how they should all give up--" Glader: "Maybe you should just give up on this review!" Me: "My point exactly. But seriously. If you're stuck in a maze for 2+ years, don't tell me you've explored every possible way out, if –when a new character arrives– everything he does is something nobody else has done before." Glader: "Didn't you at least like the title?" Me: "..." Glader: "What, klunk head?" Me: "To be honest, it sounded about a half-step away from naming the book Connect Four! And from what I've read of the following books: all the build-up of why they're in the maze and it's eventual purpose? Basically gets contradicted time and again and serves no purpose." Glader: "Maybe it does. Maybe it doesn't. But I'm not going to tell you." Me: "Seriously. You're the worst."...more
The wearyingly boring tale of an aging woman who never does much of anything, telling the story of her youth where she passively never does much of anThe wearyingly boring tale of an aging woman who never does much of anything, telling the story of her youth where she passively never does much of anything (life happens to her, never the other way around), all while reading a book her sister wrote, which tells the story of an affair (the affair's consummation is inferred) between a humdrum wealthy girl and a poor, crabby writer who vocally abuses her (which she never does anything about) between bouts of telling her science fiction stories worthy of "Astounding Science Fiction".
A wide chasm exists between the assumed kinfolk subtlety and passivity. Grade school writing classes hammer into our skulls the merits of avoiding the latter. Sadly, this novel bludgeons you with it. Clearly the intent is to tip-toe around that which is really going on... yet 500+ pages of tip-toeing is not subtlety. It's mind-numbingly boring. And the story-within-a-story-within-a-story-within-a-story structure is hardly redemptive.
Top-Level Story: Iris Chase is old. So old that nearly every reference in her life is in the past tense. Even her dawdling off to buy a donut in the morning is something that's already been done. And that's about all she does: buy donuts and read graffiti in public bathroom stalls. Oh, and to tell the...
1st-Level-Down Story: Iris Chase is young. Her dad is wealthy, so neither she nor her sister go to school. They sit at home. Nor does Young Iris ever need to make a decision for herself. So: she doesn't. This is hammered home by her past tense stories passively telling of events further in the past! Never does she simply go to the park. Rather, the reader is told "We had been to the park earlier that day." B-O-R-I-N-G. Or rather: "I had decided after I had completed the book that it was B-O-R-I-N-G."
Book-Within-the-Story: A wealthy lady has an affair with a poor jerk. The jerk verbally abuses her; she never does anything in response (save for sleeping with him). He's a hack of a sci-fi writer, so he tells her a story...
Tale-Within-the-Book-Within-the-Story: Perhaps the only redeeming part of the book. The story – through subtlety, inference and thematic parallels – actively gives "meat" to the rest of the novel. Which is assuredly why it shares the title with the actual novel itself. Sadly, the tale is short and not enough to redeem the concrete shoes that is the rest of this book.
5th-Wheel of the Story: Oh yeah. And to further bludgeon us with the passivity of matters, the novel is sprinkled with newspaper clippings, which (*sigh*) again tell us passively and in the past tense of events that had happened. No, we never experience these events. We're just told they occurred. And perhaps that's the overarching problem with the book: the reader is never given a chance to "experience" the story. Blah.
Clearly, Margaret Atwood is a gifted writer. Many descriptive passages throughout this novel are lovely, and several turns of phrase are worthy of an underline. But this was an awful choice of what book of hers to read first. Iris Chase's pitiful life – in the end – is her own damned fault, and to highlight a life of passivity, inaction, and boredom is (you guessed it) BORING. Horrifically so.
So I guess if this was meant to be a horrifically boring story, then it was executed beautifully....more