This is a well crafted children's book written for young adults. It has mystifying events and characters that defy grownup thinking in a “Neverland” k...moreThis is a well crafted children's book written for young adults. It has mystifying events and characters that defy grownup thinking in a “Neverland” kind of way. Throughout the novel, you feel like at any moment he could wake up and find that it was all a dream (or was it?). Even at the end (or beginning depending on how you look at it) when he returns to the house where it all started; there’s a feeling of hanging on to the belief in something that cannot possibly be, in a way many of us wish we still could. (less)
The last time I traveled to Singapore for work, I picked up The Devinci Code in the airport to read on the plane. The thing about traveling for 30-hou...moreThe last time I traveled to Singapore for work, I picked up The Devinci Code in the airport to read on the plane. The thing about traveling for 30-hours is you need a book that’s easy to pick up again, mid-sentence, after you doze off for the 5th time. Since most of the books on my to-read list are pretty involved, I thought I would go back to Dan Brown again. This book definitely served its purpose. Though this time the in-flight entertainment was so good this really ended up being my “yes I’m eating alone” book. Same requirements apply.
We join symbolist Robert Langdon again as he is unwittingly pulled into a mystery involving a group of bad folks who have been around for a very long time. I say “again” only because I read this book after The Devinci Code; though technically this is the first in the series. Like the Davinci Code, this book is very formula. Of course there’s a gorgeous and brilliant female scientist he meets along the way to help out. Of course he almost dies a few dozen times (ok, maybe only 3), and of course there’s a twist to the ending. But I signed up for that type of book and I think this one executes well for what it is. The only gripe I have is it went on a little too long. There was a bit too much of “We got him! Nope, just kidding”. I signed up for one twist ending, not 3 or 4.
I also really like the idea of the clues left behind. The author’s note claims that “References to all works of art, tombs, tunnels, and architecture in Rome are entirely factual (as are their exact locations),”. A little fact checking proves that this is not entirely true; though I found even the fact checking fun.
I wouldn't recommend this book for Italian history buffs or people looking for anything beyond a good pool-side read. For those just looking for something to pass the time, this is a great choice. (less)
I loved Gone Girl and was hoping this book would be just as good. Sadly, it was not. That’s not to say it was bad. Gillian Flynn has a stunning gift f...moreI loved Gone Girl and was hoping this book would be just as good. Sadly, it was not. That’s not to say it was bad. Gillian Flynn has a stunning gift for portraying the darkest sides of people. More than anything, that’s what I like about her books. So, where did this one fall flat for me? Like Gone Girl, the story moves through two viewpoints unveiling the truth slowly. Like Gone Girl, the reader is discovering the truth along with one of the main characters. Like Gone Girl, none of the characters is without secrets. Unlike Gone Girl, I just didn’t believe the story.
Libby’s two sisters and her mother were murdered when she was a child. Her only surviving family are her brother, who was charged with the murders, and her father, who was absent from their lives. Libby grows up to be a completely dysfunctional adult who’s need for money draws her to a group who will pay for information about the killings. The story unfolds as Libby searches for the truth; seeking out family members she hasn’t spoken to since that day. Intertwined in Libby’s story are the actual events of that day; told from the viewpoint of her brother Ben and her mother Patty.
As everybody’s secrets unfold, the reader is left with very few characters that don’t turn your stomach. This is really Gillian’s gift. It’s the darkest side of these characters that drives them to do the things they do. Insecurities, selfishness, and desperation compel them to the actions that culminate in the deaths of Libby’s sisters and mother.
Here’s where I felt this book diverged from what made Gone Girl so great. Gone girl was calculated. Very, very calculated buy characters that were on the verge of mentally unstable. Too much of this story was left to chance and, in the end, the probably of these events lining up the way they did was just too unbelievable.
One other note about this book. I grew up in the 80s when this story took place. I remember the hype about Satanism, the PMRC bans on “devils music”, and the rash of suicides taking place amongst head-banging teens. I remember kids at school spreading rumors about who was a “devil worshiper” and the satanic symbols found everywhere. Reading this book 20-years later made me think of how detrimental this was to our society. (less)
I started this book 3-times before I finally got into it. It came so highly recommended but I just couldn’t get June, the main character, right in my...moreI started this book 3-times before I finally got into it. It came so highly recommended but I just couldn’t get June, the main character, right in my head. She’s an odd age (14-years old) in the 80’s. The timeframe isn’t outlined early enough for me so the lack of her understanding of AIDS came off as being somewhat mentally deficient. It was an odd first impression that kept me putting the book down after a few pages. Once I punched through that, I was surprised at the book that I found.
The book is not really about AIDS at all, though the taboo nature of Finn’s, June’s uncle, death just adds another layer onto an already complex story. The real story is about a 14-year old girl understanding different types of love and relationships. That sounds trite but sometimes the simplest plots make the best stories. The conflict in this story is how the relationships of the members of this family evolved over time and how they all affected each other. What makes this book so good is the depth of the individual characters. I feel along with June as much as I feel for her mother, Danielle, and her sister, Greta. They all arrived at where they are in the book for different reasons and the author does a great job of making you sympathize, just a little, with all of the characters. They are all flawed and they are all unique and endearing. (less)
I loved In The Woods sooo much but the following two books, Likeness and Faithful Place, just weren't as good. What I loved about In the Woods was tha...moreI loved In The Woods sooo much but the following two books, Likeness and Faithful Place, just weren't as good. What I loved about In the Woods was that introspective view of a set of events that ended badly. It's like piecing together an accident, one minute you're driving along and the next you're stopped. There's always one moment that you pick as the one where you could have changed the outcome. Tana does a great job of capturing this.
I also loved the relationship between Mick and his rookie partner Richie. It wasn't quite as good as the relationship between Rob and Cassie but it still has as similar complexity. Mick is one of the best in the murder squad and never keeps a partner. He takes on Richie, a young kid from a lower class background, and finds that he likes the kid more than he would have expected. In the murder squad, partners are all about trust but Mick's trust ends up leading him astray and, ultimately, starts the events that almost dismantle the case they are on.
The hardest part about reading this book is the case. It's gruesome. It has to be for the story but it's still very difficult to read at times. All in all, I give Tana French credit for not overdoing it. The story comes off without it becoming too CSI. (less)
I really wanted to love this book because I have loved the other books in the Dublin Murder Squad series so much. I loved In the Woods and Likeness so...moreI really wanted to love this book because I have loved the other books in the Dublin Murder Squad series so much. I loved In the Woods and Likeness so much that I saved all Tana's other books for when I needed to get lost in a book. Rob and Cassie, the two characters from the first two books, were stunning. I felt so connected to them that I would find their story following me throughout my day, consuming my thoughts. Her characters are flawed, but perfectly so. They are not completely likable and make the same stupid mistakes we all do in our lives.
So that brings us to Frank Mackey, the main character of Faithful Place. Frank does come to us from Likeness, though he was so forgettable I had to look him up to remember the part he played. Frank just didn't do it for me. I never connected with him. Frank comes of feeling like a character, conceived in the mind of an author. Rob and Cassie felt like your closest friends and I think they must have spawned from people very close to Tana. They bled their hearts and souls on the pages of those books. Frank was never so vulnerable. Frank is flawed in the same way Rob and Cassie were but I never felt that discovery that I did with Rob and Cassie. When they realized how big a mistake they’d made and how in over their heads they were. Frank was calm, cool, and collected to the very end.
As for the mystery, like all of Tana’s books so far I saw the ending coming. That didn’t make the way it unfolded any less exciting but it wasn’t entirely unpredictable. It’s not so much the who dunnit as the why with these books. That’s why I read them.
While this wasn’t as good as I’d hoped I still thought it was a great read. I hope I’m not giving it 3-stars because Tana has set the bar so high for me thus far. It’s probably closer to a 3.5 star book. (less)
This book is a solid 3.5. I loved the characters. They were all believable and memorable in their own way. Mostly, I thought the story was very unique...moreThis book is a solid 3.5. I loved the characters. They were all believable and memorable in their own way. Mostly, I thought the story was very unique. While it touched on race tensions, it did so in a way that was not strained or overdone. I thought the twist of having a white “slave” was very unique and interesting. I didn’t care for the pace of the book at times and I hated that there were so many times that a simple misunderstanding could have prevented the turn of events. Once or twice in a story, ok. This one had me shaking my kindle in frustration.
Overall, I would recommend reading this book. It's not earth-shattering but it's a good read; especially for fans of historical fiction. I also found the Author’s Note worth reading. It explains how much of the story was born from what she was able to find out about her own house.
When I sat down to write this review, I really didn’t think I’d have much to say. Three-star reviews are typically straight forward. The more I though...moreWhen I sat down to write this review, I really didn’t think I’d have much to say. Three-star reviews are typically straight forward. The more I thought about it, though, the more I had to say and the more I questioned the three-star rating. This is the story of Hannah Baker, a high school student who has committed suicide. No spoiler there, she’s already dead when we meet her. The story is told through Clay, one of her classmates as he listens to Hannah explain the thirteen reasons why she ended her life via a cassette tapes. The plot is unique and interesting and I had very high hopes for the story itself but this is where things go awry.
When I read the synopsis of this book I expected to be emotionally invested in the characters. I expected to walk, step by step, through the gut-wrenching story of a girl pushed to the edge. Not that I expected the story to be extreme; on the contrary I expected that it would be disturbing in its simplicity. What I did not expect was to feel anticipation. Yeah, that’s right, page-turning suspense from a book about suicide. When you start the book Hannah is dead and Clay is retelling how he learned Hannah’s story and for some reason, the author developed the story like a mystery. I cannot begin to put into words how much this distracted from the characters and the story.
There are two main themes that continue to come up, both in Clay’s thoughts and in Hannah’s telling. One is “the accident” and one is “the party”. Both characters talk about these two things repeatedly, referring to them as if they contain some big secret that cannot be revealed. The author does a great job of building the anticipation of these two evens but at the cost of the characters. While I was very clear on the events surrounding Hannah’s suicide, I didn’t understand her emotions. She is bearing it all on tape to the 13-people who affected her most and yet she comes off as being completely stoic and unemotional. The author does little to help the reader understand her mindset.
Similarly, Clay’s character is what I like to call an “action” character. He does things to tell you how he feels. At one point he hits a fence repeatedly until his hands bleed because he’s upset at something he finds out on the tapes. He shouts, he cries, and he throws up. Woven in all of this action are his “thoughts”. Unfortunately, Clay’s thoughts must be limited to 140-characters.
"Yes, I’ve noticed it, Hannah. But let’s get on with it. Please. Overhearing" "I loved talking with you, Hannah." "An accident? Another one? Two in one night? How come I never heard about this one?"
Ultimately, this book was missing a way for the reader to know Hannah. Portraying the main character through Cassette tapes left for the people who make her kill herself doesn’t exactly endear the reader to her. Maybe we needed a scene with Clay and Hannah before the suicide so the first time we meet Hannah it isn’t on a recorded log. I also think Clay needed more stream of consciousness. I would have loved for Clay’s character to have more of a story line rather than just his memories relative to Hannah’s story.
I don’t hate this book but I’m disappointed. For such a serious subject I really thought more care would be taken with the characters and the storytelling. At times, I found myself skipping whole sections of poorly written dialog just to find out the details of some event that had been referred to multiple times before. Not the sign of a good book.
So, why 3-stars and not 2.5 or 2? Because I don't think reading this book was a waste of my time. I didn't love it but I didn't hate it either. I'm disappointed in it because I had high expectations and I wont punish the book for that. I think this book could go either way depending on the reader. (less)
I like the idea of this story but the characters just didn’t match the plot. Myfawny needed to be a extremely, intelligent, confident, and organized....moreI like the idea of this story but the characters just didn’t match the plot. Myfawny needed to be a extremely, intelligent, confident, and organized. Instead she comes off being flippant, vapid, and juvenile. I think that she was supposed to “come into herself” during the story but it’s just not believable that nobody realized something was different between the new Myfawny and the old. I wanted to Myfawny (either of them) smart and interesting. It just didn’t happen for me and it detracted from an otherwise compelling plot. (less)
I liked this one better than the first. I still feel like things happen too quickly. The resolution tends to only take a few pages. I liked How Alanna...moreI liked this one better than the first. I still feel like things happen too quickly. The resolution tends to only take a few pages. I liked How Alanna's character grew in this book though. (less)