I'll admit that this book kept me interested enough just from the pure mystery, but in all other regards was a terribly written, poorly characterized,...moreI'll admit that this book kept me interested enough just from the pure mystery, but in all other regards was a terribly written, poorly characterized, incredibly slow read. I'll go through some of my biggest criticisms point-by-point.
(view spoiler)[(1) This novel left me feeling like Joel Dicker has, in fact, never encountered a woman. Dicker has done the impossible -- gone through his entire life without having a single interaction with a human female. This is the only possible explanation I can come up with, given that his female characters are all crazy one-dimensional stereotypes. From Goldman's insanely overbearing mother, to Nola, to Jenny, to Tamara -- none of these women bear any resemblance to reality. They exhibit no complexity, no truth. And for a book that's entirely about writing and writers, it seems ludicrous to me that all these characters could be so flat.
(2) It is not love for a grown man to be with a 15-year-old. That is actually rape, and it is illegal. Yes, Nola was infatuated, but Harry had an obligation as the adult to not engage. This book tries to make the reader sympathize with Harry, his love for Nola, and to romanticize the situation. Let me repeat: this is not romantic. It's not romantic for an adult to be with a 15-year-old. It does not matter the circumstances. It is NOT OKAY.
(3) The writing is oh my god awful. I couldn't even manage to suspend my disbelief long enough to believe that The Origins of Evil could be considered a masterpiece. Every page was telling me that this book was somehow a bestseller that was taught in schools around the country, and all I could think was, "THIS? THIS IS THE PINNACLE OF LITERATURE??" But aside from that, just the narrative itself was bad. The dialogue was laughably ridiculous. The prose was so heavy-handed. I found myself rolling my eyes at the bonding scenes between Quebert and Goldman. To be fair, I acknowledge that this may not be Dicker's fault, but the American translator's, but seriously -- this was bad. Reeeeeaaaallll bad. The writing was so bad that I could barely feign interest in the twist.
(4) The twist was too much. All within the last 10% of the book. Dicker should have spread some revelations out, instead of it all culminating like that. (SHE WAS DELUSIONAL! ALSO IT WASN'T HIS BOOK! ALSO THE POLICE DID IT! ALSO THE RICH DUDE BEAT THE SHIT OUT OF HIS CHAUFFEUR AND HAD A GULIT COMPLEX!) It gave no real air of suspense. All the same, I like murder mysteries, so that was kind of enough for me, but the end was definitely a hat-on-a-hat situation. Hatris did not become as popular as Tetris for a reason. (Don't understand the reference? Google it. You won't regret it! Well, maybe you will. I was pretty tickled by Hatris.) Though this book was CERTAINLY LONG ENOUGH, with a lot of incredibly dull red herrings.
(5) Is this supposed to be a satirical commentary on American society and writers? Because then it may work. Otherwise, Goldman is hugely narcissistic and Quebert has an enormous martyr complex. Boring. Move on. (hide spoiler)]
I'm really surprised to know that this book has received so much critical acclaim? But maybe it's better in its original French, I don't know. In English it falls short of its mark, trying for something resonant, and ending up flat on the page.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I really, really liked this a lot. I thought it was a very fitting ending to a series that has become richer and deeper the more I've read and thought...moreI really, really liked this a lot. I thought it was a very fitting ending to a series that has become richer and deeper the more I've read and thought.
(view spoiler)[I felt really betrayed at the end of The Magician King, despite really enjoying the journey. I thought rape was such an unnecessary way for Grossman to achieve Julia's transformation. As a woman, I hate the use of rape in fiction. Why is this sexual violence necessary? I'll admit -- I haven't forgiven him for this -- though I was ecstatic to see Asmodeus return and take the knife to gut Reynault. Fuck him. SERIOUSLY. FUCK HIM. I would have liked to see it on the page, I think, but I'll take what I can get. But this still isn't acceptance of what Grossman did.
What I did like was Quentin's growth. Obviously one of the biggest complaints from the first book is how boring Quentin is, how whiny he is with his perpetual ennui. I accepted it simply because I feel a lot of it is true. A magical world doesn't make you happier. It simply is. Fillory also wasn't the key to his happiness. I felt like this book Quentin really settles into himself, and it was nice. I liked it. I was also happy to see the return of Alice, who I've always loved, and I adored her reaction to Quentin turning her human. Quentin's view of the world -- that the grass is always greener on the other side -- needs to be called out again and again, and the particular venom with which Alice did it really resonated with me. (Also, Alice is the best. She is the BEST.)
Last note is -- come on, Grossman. Did you have to make the Indian guy be good with magic carpets? Come on, dude. One character of color and he's good at magic CARPETS? :\ Sigh. (hide spoiler)]
All in all, it was a very good ending. I loved Rupert's story. I only wish that the Fillory books would exist for real.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I love Gatsby SUPER HARD, and I found this to be a bit lackluster. I mean, to start off with -- it's the exact same thing.
(view spoiler)[Also, what wa...moreI love Gatsby SUPER HARD, and I found this to be a bit lackluster. I mean, to start off with -- it's the exact same thing.
(view spoiler)[Also, what was the deal with making Naomi not gay? Nick is CLEARLY GAY. If you were so determined to stick to canon, just go ahead and make Naomi in LUUUUUV with Jacinta.
Overall, this was too true to Gatsby, and felt formulaic in a way. At first I enjoyed seeing the modern-day versions of the characters, but then I got kind of bored. But this did make me feel way worse for Gatsby than the original ever did. In the original I mostly think Jay Gatsby is super naive and kind of dumb, and in this one...well, I felt similarly, but also TERRIBLE. God, Delilah. :|
(I wish it hadn't been a car accident. I feel like that could've been done better.)
Things that bothered me: that throwaway mention of Naomi's butch BFF who she didn't think was attractive because she dressed like a dude, but some girls must have been into that. Her saying that Jacinta and Delilah weren't "real lesbians". "Feminist" jokes or whatever bullshit. It felt preachy. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This book was RAD, and I so did not think it was going to be anything like that. In many, many ways it's incredibly predictable, but you know what it...moreThis book was RAD, and I so did not think it was going to be anything like that. In many, many ways it's incredibly predictable, but you know what it was that finally got me? (view spoiler)[POST-APOCALYPTIC MONARCHY. I can't resist a good sci-fi novel, and this has all the mysterious elements that make me want to know more.
I also think Kelsea should leave the Fetch alone, and hook up with Marguerite. Come on, girl.
BASICALLY, I enjoyed the vicious nature of this book. It's certainly safe, as a YA novel. We know from the quotes at the beginning of chapters that Kelsea survives and the Red Queen does not, but there's still a sense of danger imminent. The slave tithe that the Red Queen collects, Thomas's harem of women, all of these are deeply horrifying. I do love that the two figures at the center of this novel -- Kelsea and the Red Queen -- are both incredibly powerful women. (hide spoiler)]
I wouldn't compare this to GoT and the Hunger Games, though it does have elements of them, but I think this is really its own thing. I'm really looking forward to the next book.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I feel like it's really time to fess up to my I-don't-really-get-why-everyone-loves-Rainbow-Rowell situation. (I liked Fangirl, but not so much Eleano...moreI feel like it's really time to fess up to my I-don't-really-get-why-everyone-loves-Rainbow-Rowell situation. (I liked Fangirl, but not so much Eleanor & Park.)
(view spoiler)[Here's the thing about this book (and Fangirl too) -- it's so close to home in a way that I DID NOT LIKE AT ALL, like looking through a distorted lens at your own life. Not, obviously, Georgie's marriage to Neal, but rather Georgie's relationship with Seth and her profession. As someone who wants to do that for a living, and has a best friend writing partner, I COULD NOT DEAL WITH HOW SELFISH AND IRRESPONSIBLE GEORGIE WAS. I GOT IT, to an extent, because it's her MARRIAGE and her KIDS and her HUSBAND, BUT GOD. FUCKING. DAMN. You do NOT leave your writing partner in the lurch like that, not when this is EVERYTHING YOU'VE BEEN WORKING TOWARDS PROFESSIONALLY. It's not just you. It's them, too. It's their DREAMS. And you do not fucking leave them in the cold. It made it VERY hard to be sympathetic.
(TO BE FAIR, I have no kids and I'm not married, and the closest thing I have is my relationship to my writing partner, so that was colored... But I was still pretty livid.)
Also, I can't fucking believe that Neal didn't answer the phone that whole time. WAS HE A SULKY CHILD??? It was so ridiculous and terrible and I was so frustrated I wanted to throw things. You have a responsibility to at least answer the damn phone for your WIFE! I was so mad at Neal for a lot of this book, as well as being mad at Georgie, that I could barely focus on the nice bits -- their relationship build-up.
The phone calls were super boring to me, which was too bad since that was the whole crux of the book. :|
Um, I basically didn't enjoy this very much. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I'll say this for the book -- it effectively scared the shit out of me. I stayed up reading it, and now I'm going to put on Parks and Recreation to fa...moreI'll say this for the book -- it effectively scared the shit out of me. I stayed up reading it, and now I'm going to put on Parks and Recreation to fall asleep to because I'm terrified.(less)
YOU DON'T TAKE A SUBJECT LIKE SEXUAL ASSAULT AND TREAT IT LIKE A PLOT DEVICE.
YOU DON'T DO IT.
I am BEYOND enraged.
Aside from that -- this boo...moreYOU DON'T TAKE A SUBJECT LIKE SEXUAL ASSAULT AND TREAT IT LIKE A PLOT DEVICE.
YOU DON'T DO IT.
I am BEYOND enraged.
Aside from that -- this book was flimsy. Every character was flat. Carolyn, our resident MPDG, was boring as she was "mysterious". At no point did I even buy into the camp, which Cam Post actually manages to make you question, the marker of a truly wonderful book. I ended up rolling my eyes a lot until I got to...well.
Very thorough. Very good. Comedy section was less helpful than I wanted, but it was still good to know some of the ins and outs of industry work and e...moreVery thorough. Very good. Comedy section was less helpful than I wanted, but it was still good to know some of the ins and outs of industry work and expectations.(less)
I think, for many young LGBTQ teens, this book will resonate deeply. It is a perfect book for them. I think it really tackles the question of religion...moreI think, for many young LGBTQ teens, this book will resonate deeply. It is a perfect book for them. I think it really tackles the question of religion and faith and queerness. Which is awesome, and I hope those young people are able to read this.
As for me -- I admit that I'm a little allergic to Christian iconography and lots of chatter about Jesus (in a modern setting), so this was not really my cup of tea. I've been lucky enough that my beliefs and my sexuality have never clashed, and I've never faced a struggle like the one Hannah and Baker face. I ended up skimming a lot of the more religious dialogue. I did enjoy experiencing Hannah's journey as she discovers herself, and it was certainly wonderful to have a queer story where (view spoiler)[the parents are supportive and loving and willing to learn (hide spoiler)].
(view spoiler)[I also liked that Hannah and Baker were given a happy ending.
I never entirely got into this book though. I did read this book pretty late at night, so maybe that was part of it, but I think I was thrown by the beginning. It was like going to a house party where everyone knew everyone else, but I was the only stranger. The six teen characters are never really explained as to their relationship to Hannah at first, except maybe Baker. I could have used slightly more exposition. I had Luke and Wally muddled up in my head for the first few chapters. I also never entirely got a good handle on Luke and Wally as distinct characters, which, Luke does feature a lot less than the others. Wally I really chalked up to "a nice, sweet boy", but there wasn't too much else to him.
Joanie and Hannah's relationship was great. Very heartfelt, very complex -- just the way sisters are. I thought that was well done.
Man, Clay. It's probably just me. I wanted to see him suffer so much more than he did. He basically turned their whole graduating class against Hannah and caused Baker's accident, so I'm pretty unforgiving of that. I get why Hannah forgives him, and yeah, he's a dumb teenager, but I'm still a little... :| I was hoping a little that the jock stereotype would be turned on its head, but it wasn't so much, which was fine.
The parts I really skimmed where the parts where Hannah describes her feelings as like...blood or tears and there was lots of Christian metaphor and my brain had an automatic reaction of NO NO NO I DO NOT LIKE THIS. I needed a little bit of a trigger warning on this. I find a lot of talk about Jesus to be extremely uncomfortable, even in positive settings, so. But idk. That's just me. There were moments where it felt so intensely religious that I, as a non-believer, felt alienated. (hide spoiler)]
The book dragged a bit for me at parts. It felt like there was some filler. Hannah crying a lot, Baker crying a lot, etc etc etc. But overall I felt like it was a strong story, and I really think it speaks to so many people's experience. It's very evocative of adolescence and high school and at times felt a little suffocating in that way (which was good, I guess; or at least effective). Faith and sexuality are so crucial and personal to people, and this book does an elegant job of twining the two. Once again, not my thing, but I'm glad it exists.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I did not read this as quickly as the others, so I'm like...wavering a little between 3.5 and 4 stars, but the hell, round it up.
There was some great,...moreI did not read this as quickly as the others, so I'm like...wavering a little between 3.5 and 4 stars, but the hell, round it up.
There was some great, great stuff, but ultimately it felt like...not really the end of anything, but the gateway to another trilogy. (view spoiler)[WHICH WILL HOPEFULLY BE ABOUT ELIZA AND SCARAB. WHY WOULDN'T YOU SHOW ME MORE ABOUT THEIR ROMANCE?????????????? (hide spoiler)]
The new stuff was cool, but a little underwhelming, which is how I feel about most big revelations in books these days, so nbd.
(view spoiler)[KIRI AND LIRAZ THOUGH!!!!! A lot of feels about them and their relationship! SHE SANG TO HIM SO SHE WOULD BE ABLE TO KEEP HIS SOUL IN THE CANTEEN AND I CAN'T -- JUST THINKING ABOUT HER SINGING OVER HIM MAKES ME WANT TO CRY (hide spoiler)]
I momentarily had some feels about Akiva and Karou. Is it bad that in my head I concocted some weird AU version and turned them into Veronica and Logan and that's how I ended up having feels? Too much Veronica Mars? Okay, fine. KAROU. I am so happy about her, and about Mik and Zuzana. (view spoiler)[Yeah, fine, I'm glad Akiva and Karou FINALLY managed to get it on -- GOD, IT TOOK FREAKING FOREVER -- but like... Akiva is like...not that interesting to me, sorry. :| Infinitely more interesting when I pretend he's Logan Echolls.
The showdown with Jael felt pretty underwhelming. I understand when it's like LET'S NOT SHED MORE BLOOD, but -- and this is how I feel generally about people who can't manage to kill others -- SOMETIMES YOU JUST HAVE TO KILL SOME PEOPLE BECAUSE THEY DESERVE IT. And if anyone deserves it, it's Jael. But meh, I guess he got his comeuppance. (I'm sorry, I get bloodlusty, and kind of mean. Also, I think it's bullshitty and weird the whole societal complex around that. Like, putting down your sword in war makes you pure and better somehow. Sometimes you have to and it doesn't make you any less of a person. I'm impatient. It's like Chuck on Chuck. JUST SHOOT SOMEONE ALREADY, GOD. YOU'RE A FREAKING SPY.) (hide spoiler)]
All in all, satisfying.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)