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
Ooof. Based on some of the reviews, I had medium-to-high hopes for this book. Maybe it's worth two stars - maybe - but my initial impressions are... eOoof. Based on some of the reviews, I had medium-to-high hopes for this book. Maybe it's worth two stars - maybe - but my initial impressions are... er... bad. EDIT: I've given it some time: one star. (And I'm rounding up.)
While the novel's concept is a decent jumping off point, the author's writing style just killed it for me. ("Killed" in the unfavorable context.) Ishiguro is horribly repetitive, grinding out long, unnecessary sentences creating by far the longest 300 page book I've ever waded my way through. Perhaps a representative sample (made up by me) of the author's writing style will give you an idea? Here's ya go:
"Sally was a dear friend of mine. When I say Sally was a friend, I mean that she and I were the same year at school and spent time together from time to time. Sally and I would often treat one another as friends, doing friendly things of all manner. When I say we did friendly things together, I mean that many of our activities were done in the context of friendship - whether just the two of us or in a group of friends. Our friendship was something that our friendship was based upon, and the friendliness was something that was dear to me while we were in school together."
That. For 300 pages.
It's not depth. It's not subtlety. It's not nuance. It's... dull repetition. If Shakespeare is correct that "Brevity is the soul of wit", Ishiguro just might be a soul-sucking zombie, whose wit died out in some previous work. And you should barricade your home.
Yes, the story's eerie tone helps entice the reader. At first. Think a mash-up of PD James' "Children of Men" and Michael Bay's "The Island" (ouch). But this was never meant to be the focus of the story. (Readers expecting/waiting for a big "A-ha!" moment -- due to the story's setup -- will be disappointed; this is not The Sixth Sense or Witness for the Prosecution.) Rather, this book is intended as a longgggggggg, slowwwwwwww, blunt-force trauma commentary on individuality, racial/class divisions, and how nasty school children can be to one another. Unfortunately, any subtlety is maddeningly blown apart by -- have I mentioned it before? -- the author's repeated insistence to have his narrator repeat herself right after she's done restating what she's just said a few times. (She's boring.)
Sadly (yes, "for me"), this came off as yet another "No matter who you are, life is bleak and sucks... and then we all die" tale with little redeeming value beyond spurring me toward an even greater appreciation for Hemingway. Depth AND brevity? Good on ya, Ernest....more
Diving headfirst into this book, I found myself reminded quite regularly of JUNO.
Problem: I hated Juno. That may come as sacrilege to many, but (theDiving headfirst into this book, I found myself reminded quite regularly of JUNO.
Problem: I hated Juno. That may come as sacrilege to many, but (the movie) continually sounded as if all the characters - especially the title character - were trying to sound smarty-smart-smart (technical term) just so we could bask in how smarty-smart-smart Diablo Cody was. It oozed (maybe even literally) of trying too hard. That and Juno wasn't all that likeable... Unless "likeable" is a synonym for snarky. I'm bad with 3 syllable words.
I digress. A good bit. Back to the book. (Spoiler Alert: The similarities start and end with that first whiff of Juno-ness.)
Yes, this lovely little book is chock-full of characters (teens and adult) who have an uncanny ability for the snappiest of comments and comebacks. Fortunately, that's just the surface. There's a deeper, more honest, more thoughtful layer beneath the snappy frosting. As much as Hazel is drawn to that depth when found in Gus, so too the heart of the book is uncovered when it allows itself to be honest, not trying overly hard with the snappiness.
Really quite a good book, tackling some tough issues -- whether or not you're a young adult.
Four stars from me. We'll see how it settles in my brain machine. Might upgrade to 5.
(Meanwhile, it's worth checking out John Green's work on YouTube. Rounded out my appreciation for him and his work. Just watch out for the Mongols!)...more