More like 2.5 stars. I'm not quite sure what was off about this book, but the subject matter and characters felt a bit dated (already!)---for one thinMore like 2.5 stars. I'm not quite sure what was off about this book, but the subject matter and characters felt a bit dated (already!)---for one thing, the evangelical stuff was clearly written from the perspective of an outsider, which kind of made it come off as condescending. The structure (switching between Ruth's and Tim's perspectives) and constant explanations of context/history killed any plot momentum---as if the story kept getting stuck at stoplights or in traffic bottlenecks. That said, though, Perotta is very good at creating sympathetic characters, and for all my problems with the writing, he made Ruth and Tim interesting enough that I really cared about what happened to them in the end....more
I probably shouldn't be giving this any stars because I didn't even finish it. This was a book club read and none of us got through it, not even the mI probably shouldn't be giving this any stars because I didn't even finish it. This was a book club read and none of us got through it, not even the most die-hard David Mitchell fans. I guess this is proof positive that a knack for writing will not save your book if you have nothing particular to say. As one person in our group described it, reading this book is like watching a musician play his scales very, very well---but after a while, you just want to hear him play an actual song for a sustained period of time. Perhaps I'll have better luck reading Cloud Atlas or Black Swan Green. ...more
I recently read The Time-Traveler's Wife and was pretty disappointed---the author somehow manages to turn such an awesome premise (the dude actually tI recently read The Time-Traveler's Wife and was pretty disappointed---the author somehow manages to turn such an awesome premise (the dude actually time travels!) into something pretty flat and prosaic and dull. The first hundred pages really hooked me, but after a while I started to get irritated by:
1. All the name checking of hipster-approved bands in an attempt to establish Henry's supposed "punk" cred. He liked the Violent Femmes in 1991. That's why he's so badass? Seriously?
2. The food porny descriptions of the meals they eat. Some paragraphs read like the menu of a pretentious bistro.
3. The awful ethnic stereotypes that characterize the few non-white characters (Nell, the mammy-esque family cook (complete with dialect), or Charisse, the "childlike" Filipina).
4. The fact that everyone is successful and at least upper middle class, if not fabulously wealthy. Even Henry somehow manages to keep his job at the Newberry library for 20 years, despite his habits of disappearing for odd stretches of time, not keeping appointments, and, oh, running around naked in the stacks from time to time. It would have been more interesting to me if his disorder kept him from having any normal kind of professional life.
5. The lack of character development in the protagonists after they finally meet as adults. All of a sudden, they meet and they're in love. The author gives lip service to Henry's womanizing and drug problems, but really, they don't seem to pose much more than a passing problem for Clare because she already knows they'll get married. And even as a married couple, their biggest source of conflict (whether they can or should have a child) is extrinsic, rather than intrinsic to their personalities/characters. Clare never really seems to be bothered by her lack of independence, or the fact that she's so tethered to Henry because he had a part in making her who she is, etc.
By the time I actually got to the end of the story, I was too emotionally distanced from the characters to really be moved by what happens to them---the burden of plot winds up outsripping any kind of nuanced characterization. Bad science fiction and bad romance. Bah humbug. ...more