Argh! I so desperately wanted to give this book five stars. In fact, had you asked me halfway through whether this would be a five-star, book I'd haveArgh! I so desperately wanted to give this book five stars. In fact, had you asked me halfway through whether this would be a five-star, book I'd have said, "Hell yeah!"
Ani FaNelli is the sort of high-class WASPy bitch that, when you see her on the streets of New York, you can't help but hate. And she's worked hard to appear that way. In fact, her whole life of luxury has been painstakingly constructed to make sure you never guess that her real name is TifAni and she grew up in a not-rich-enough suburb where parents can't afford to get their BMWs serviced and if you aren't wearing hot-pink lipstick, you're clearly ill. The secret is, she actually hates every bit of it.
Luckiest Girl Alive is a "whodunit" of sorts. From page one, you're wondering what happened in Ani's past to make her work so hard to create this whole life that she actually hates. As you jump back and forth in time, you find yourself partially emerged in a YA book (Ani is the new girl at school, trying to find her place in the social hierarchy) and partially following a romance novel gone wrong (Ani has the guy, is planning the wedding, but is starting to seriously second-guess the whole thing . . . from page one!).
So what happened. What happened? What HAPPENED?
Well, when I finally found out, yes, I was slightly horrified. But then I couldn't really figure out why I had so many pages left. What else was there to reveal? Oh boy, that meant there was a twist coming up! (After all, this book was compared to Gone Girl.) I looooove twists.
But, dear future reader, let me be the one to warn you: there is no final twist. So don't get your hopes up. After the frenetic pacing of the first two-thirds of the book, I actually found it difficult to get through the end, where she does the documentary and has her wedding. Because the actual end just felt so predictable. I knew which character she'd inevitably encounter doing the documentary. I knew how her wedding would go. But I kept slogging along, because I was waiting for the Big Surprise that I felt I'd been promised. It never came.
So four stars it is! In spite of my ultimate disappointment, it was still a very fun read, especially because it isn't often you find yourself hating the narrator of a book, yet frantically pushing forward to find out what happens (or in this case happened) to them....more
For a software engineer and self-proclaimed science nerd, Weir does a very good job writing what could have become an overly technical novel in an accFor a software engineer and self-proclaimed science nerd, Weir does a very good job writing what could have become an overly technical novel in an accessible way that (clearly!) appeals to the mass market.
Mark Watney--the novel's hero and frequent narrator--is accidentally left on Mars, presumed dead . . . only he's not dead. He spends the rest of the novel (with the eventual help of NASA and his original mission crew) working to survive and return to Earth.
What I liked most about this novel was the way the narration was broken up; not necessarily just how we got more than one story (Mark on Mars, NASA on the ground, the rest of the crew in space), but how even the narrative voice and writing style itself changed. Mark's diary was obviously told in first person; the NASA and crew sections were told in third person; and when something ominous was about to happen, the narration became a very distant third person describing the landscape and Mark himself in a detached, scientific way. The ability to change up the narration like this shows Weir's (and his editor's) talent as a writer.
I personally didn't love the book because I spent a lot of time skimming the technical details. I'm not a scientist, nor am I a software engineer, and I don't care about these details; I want to know what happens next. Of course, I appreciate that all the biology/physics lent the book a huge amount of credibility; it's just not my personal preference. I liked Mark Watney's humor, and my favorite parts were the bits at the end where he and the mission commander exchange barbs. I wish there could have been more of that! (But then, of course, it would have been a very different book.)
All in all, a quick read, and while science fiction readers will undoubtedly enjoy this novel, it can clearly appeal to a large swath of everyday fiction readers, as well....more
Like so many 3-star reviewers, I'm giving Eric Fair's memoir a middle-of-the-road rating because I can't quite decide how I feel. On one hand, I admirLike so many 3-star reviewers, I'm giving Eric Fair's memoir a middle-of-the-road rating because I can't quite decide how I feel. On one hand, I admire the narrative style he chose, because I think its austerity reflects the emotional numbness he forced upon himself in order to press forward on the life path he was perpetually choosing. That said, I desperately wanted to feel something throughout this book. I kept waiting for some sort of break where I would feel the horror and cringe at the atrocities Fair so carefully denoted. I just simply never did. In the same way that Fair treated every event of his life academically, with a cerebral knowledge of the guilt he refused to allow himself to feel, I also followed is narrative at a distance, which kept me from truly becoming immersed.
Suffice to say that while I do believe Fair was intentional in his writing and likely accomplished what he set out to achieve with this memoir, it will never move readers the way that a book of fiction--devised by someone with less internal anguish to suppress--will move them....more
This book would have gotten a solid 4 stars from me if not for the entire segment where the narrator, Scott McGrath, actually begins to entertain theThis book would have gotten a solid 4 stars from me if not for the entire segment where the narrator, Scott McGrath, actually begins to entertain the possibility of supernatural powers. In every other part of the book, he is a logical investigative journalist--a skeptic--and I'm a skeptic, too, so I was fully on board with his investigation. But then, suddenly three-quarters of the way through the book, Pessl starts to go all Stephen King on us, making everything spooky and creepy and confusing so that McGrath finally doubts himself and buys into the supernatural explanation for everything . . . before ultimately proving himself wrong of course.
This arc was so utterly predictable, and the ultimately "explanation" for everything so disappointing, that I had to downgrade Night Film a full star. I still enjoyed the narrative as a more traditional murder mystery, especially the integration of pieces of evidence McGrath collects earlier in the book. It was fun to read websites and police reports and newspaper clippings along with him, and create a mental picture of the murdered woman (Ashley) at the same pace that he does. Also, his sidekicks Hopper and Nora are hilarious--they lend the book a welcome dimension that it would not have otherwise had, even if they do sometimes feel like plot crutches.
Bottom line: if you enjoy murder mysteries that nod toward the supernatural, and especially if you've ever idolized an elusive "creative genius," this book will be right up your alley....more