I must begin by saying that the jacket cover copy does not do this book justice. I received this book in the mail quite some time ago, but I put it of...moreI must begin by saying that the jacket cover copy does not do this book justice. I received this book in the mail quite some time ago, but I put it off for so long, mostly because the jacket copy did not intrigue me. Even after my mother's book club reviewed it favorably, I still put it off. Reading a book about a whiney silent-film icon who first makes her debut in New York City in the 1920s and 1930s just did not seem all that interesting. However, when I finally begin reading, I was delighted to discover that the book really isn't about young arrogant Louise at all; it's about Cora, her middle-aged chaperone. It's about self-discovery, and revising one's beliefs, and understanding the past but then putting it aside for the sake of the future.
The thing I appreciated most about this book was the fact that while it certainly integrated a good deal of history and historical commentary, it didn't ram the information down your throat under the guise of your "needing to know it" in order to appreciate the plot. Cora's narration is wonderful in that way, never over-explaining but always offering just enough information to keep you, the reader, up to speed on what is happening in that period of history that impacts the narrative itself.
Unfortunately, I had to dock this book 2 stars for its ending. It simply lasted too long. Honestly, once Cora returned from New York City (I won't say any more so as not to spoil any surprises), I no longer cared about the rest of the story. Some of the changes were nice to see, but in a sentimental way, like seeing your grandparents finally accept black people or your mother admit that she actually likes your tattoo. They didn't matter, and they certainly didn't drive the story to any further conclusion. Everything that needed to be said had been said, and it's a shame Moriarty didn't have the self-restraint to stop there.(less)
**spoiler alert** I LOVED the first 1/4 - 1/3 of this book. Telling a zombie story told from the perspective of a sympathetic child zombie--Melanie--w...more**spoiler alert** I LOVED the first 1/4 - 1/3 of this book. Telling a zombie story told from the perspective of a sympathetic child zombie--Melanie--was pure genius, and the mix of tension and horror surrounding her captivity sucked me right in. Based on those first several chapters, I thought this was definitely going to be my new "recommend to everyone" book.
Then, the junkers (a great term for a type of character that never amounts to very much) invade the military base, the main characters escape together . . . and the story evolves into a much more typical zombie story, the only difference being that they have the sympathetic zombie child still in tow. Carey does a good job at developing the various characters' relationships with Melanie, but once the perspective shifted from what Melanie was experiencing to what the more "stock" adult characters were experiencing (each chapter is told from a different character's perspective), I frankly got bored. A few of the fight-or-flee scenes are invigorating, but the entire middle section is just a lot of "traveling toward home" (appropriately named Beacon), which even the least savvy reader can deduce is no longer there anymore. It's a zombie movie--we know they're going to be lacking supplies and fighting off the zombies at night. We know there's going to be tension between the heartless scientists who insists everything she does is "for the greater good," the psychologist/teacher who feels responsible for Melanie, and the Sergeant General who adheres at all times to his duty of keeping everyone alive. These are predictable characters, whose actions and fates are predictable and therefore make the duration of the book considerably less exciting.
The one character I couldn't figure out was Gallagher. He is the least stereotypical character in the mix--Carey takes pains to develop his childhood backstory to explain why he is in the military at all--but he never really does much of anything. I could easily see another book being dedicated to him and his experiences during this time in "history," but I don't really understand why he had to come along on this particular ride.
All in all, this book was built from an excellent premise, will no doubt be loved by many, and will almost certainly be made into an entertaining movie. Thank you, Carey, for giving us something other than a traditional zombie story . . . at least for the first third of the book.
I really, really wanted to like this book. After all, I--also being a twenty-something graduate of a liberal arts college who lives in NYC (okay, okay...moreI really, really wanted to like this book. After all, I--also being a twenty-something graduate of a liberal arts college who lives in NYC (okay, okay, I live in NJ, but my neighborhood is more of a Manhattan suburb than Staten Island will ever be)--am essentially just like Nugent!
However, as it turns out, I'm really nothing at all like Nugent. Firstly, we have entirely different priorities: I'm an athlete and she's . . . an alcoholic? I like nice boys and she . . . well, she doesn't, at least not yet. I'm fiscally responsible; she definitely is not. These are just a few of the easy comparisons I can make off the top of my head that kept me from reading this book and thinking, "Right on, girl!"
Then, there's her overwhelming snarkiness. If I had been her editor for this book, I'd have started by explaining that there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. I then would have forced her to circle her favorite, most effective jokes and then cross out half of those and then rewrite the book using only the remaining circled jokes. And maybe read Me Talk Pretty One Day for good measure.
However, I can't say I completely hated this book, either, primarily because her depiction of being a twenty-something living specifically in NYC is so accurate. For other NYC-dwellers out there, here are a few comments I found absolutely true (and hilarious):
New York is motivated by not just moving toward something but also moving toward something int he fastest manner possible.
Tip for Saving: Shave off half of your electric bill by going to bed at a reasonable hour instead of staying up till 3 a.m. to stare at cats and people you hate on Facebook.
[In New York] there is the prominent smell of both fuel and garbage, which seems to have a miragelike presence in the summer, but the moment you walk by a bakery, you remember what it is like not to live in a place constantly surrounded by carcinogenic fumes.
Here, people are more attractive than I ever thought people could be in person.
Tip for Saving: Save some money on razors by . . . BAHAHAHA, I know you've had the same razor for eighty-four years.
That last comment just cracks me up. Anyway, if you don't mind an overdose of sarcasm and mean and self-deprecating jokes, and you happen to be a twenty-something female living in NYC, and you happen to be in an airport bookstore desperate for something quick to read, this might be a book worth snagging. One of its particularly big perks is the fact that it is so slim. Had it been much longer than 188 pages, I probably wouldn't have finished it. But these days, it's hard to find any book under 200 pages long. So hats off to Nugent for that!(less)