The only other Sara Gruen book I have read is "Water for Elephants". I LOVED that book. I haven't picked up any of her other books because friends repThe only other Sara Gruen book I have read is "Water for Elephants". I LOVED that book. I haven't picked up any of her other books because friends reported being so disappointed by them. I decided to give "At the Water's Edge" a chance because the synopsis on the back sounded intriguing, and hinted at the wonderful characterization and atmosphere that made WFE such an amazing read.
The good: I found this book to be an entertaining read. I finished it in 2 sessions - RT flight from Charlotte to Vegas. I found myself hooked by Maddie's story, and while I felt nothing but disdain for Ellis, I really WANTED to like Hank, and to believe that he could have the same sort of awakening that Maddie was having. I liked the characterization of the secondary characters, and felt they added a richness to the story. Certain settings (the opening party, the inn, e.g.) felt very flushed out and real to me - which added to the richness of the story.
The bad: While I love the idea of the WWII setting, the history that was layered into the book felt like it was pulled straight from a middle school textbook, and didn't fit the flow of the book at all. I wish that had been handled differently. There are also several "revelations" in the book that I think are supposed to be plot twists, but they are just handled in a clumsy manner, not with the eloquence of WFE, so they don't leave you with the same sense of revelation, just a feeling of, "Wait, what?"
In general, I think the IDEA of this book is very good. It just lacks the lushness and depth of "Water for Elephants" - so while I like Maddie, Angus, Meg, Anna and the rest - I can't love them. Maybe because Gruen didn't?...more
I picked this book up for $2.50 at a used bookstore because I thought, "Hey, catchy title, Michael Crichton - sActual: 2.5 Stars (can't do half stars)
I picked this book up for $2.50 at a used bookstore because I thought, "Hey, catchy title, Michael Crichton - should be an easy, fun summer read."
When I came home and went to enter the book into my Goodreads account, I was a little put off and surprised by how seriously people seemed to take this book. Having read it, I'm still a little baffled by this phenomenon. It's fiction, people. Not a dissertation, not a research paper, not an article in a scientific journal...fiction. So let's review it as such.
Initially, I didn't like this book. There's a lot of jumping around between settings, characters and plot points in the beginning. It's an easy read, so I stuck in there, but I kept questioning - where is this going? Who exactly is the protagonist? Fortunately, Crichton made his way to a narrative hook just in time - any longer and I may have given up.
Once the book settles into it's main storyline, it's a fast, easy read. Pretty much what I expected. So here's the good, and the bad of "State of Fear":
GOOD: The action/suspense sequences in the book are pretty good - if in some cases a little predictable. As main characters go, I found Peter Evans pretty likable.
BAD: This book is speechy. And not Aaron Sorkin good speechy - flimsy, unsupported speechy. Dr. Kenner, one of the principals, is a bit of a know-it-all blowhard, who constantly spews statistics and facts at anyone and everyone in a manner that, if done sparingly, would add to his character development and advancement of ideas in the book - but is so overdone that it becomes tedious. His comrades find him tiresome, and as a reader, I did too.
The plot is a little thin and the motivations of some of the characters are questionable at best, but overall, it was pretty much what I expected - a fast, reasonably fun, summer read.
This book seems to polarize people. You don't see a lot of 2/3 star reviews - people either love it or hate it.
For the first 50ish pages, I fell intoThis book seems to polarize people. You don't see a lot of 2/3 star reviews - people either love it or hate it.
For the first 50ish pages, I fell into the latter category. I honestly thought that this would be one of those books I would have to force myself to finish. I was wrong. Philip's storyline was introduced, and I was hooked. By the time I reached the end of Part 1, I didn't want to put it down.
Why was this book so engrossing?
1: I think it can be attributed to Follett's history writing thrillers. It creates for a faster-paced writing style than you would normally associate with historical fiction. And while every chapter doesn't end with a cliffhanger sentence, they end in such a way to send you plunging forward into the next chapter - even if you should have been in bed hours ago.
2: Follett weaves a dense web of interrelated characters. Some people have commented that they didn't like how closely woven this web is, but I loved it. It's a device that I always find enjoyable - from Game of Thrones web of characters, to the way that all events in a Seinfeld episode tie together. There's a lot of characters to love and hate in this book, and I really enjoyed how they would wind in and out of each other's lives/fates.
3: The world felt real to me. I felt like the book contained the right balance of exposition and descriptive detail to bring Kingsbridge, Shiring, Westminster and all the other places in the book to life. It was like having a film playing in my head.
4: This book has a grand scope, yet still retains intimacy with the characters. The plot of this book spans decades, yet it still feels very much the personal story of a handful of individuals. I don't think a lot of books do that well. This one did for me.
I'll summarize with this - this book is almost 1,000 pages. It's sequel, "World Without End" is over 1,000 pages, and I'm so glad. I can't wait to read it. ...more
I'm going to be honest. I don't get all the hype surrounding this book. For the first half - I had to force myself to keep reading. In terms of story,I'm going to be honest. I don't get all the hype surrounding this book. For the first half - I had to force myself to keep reading. In terms of story, the 2nd half was better, and I gave it three stars because toward the end there were some paragraphs and sentences that were exquisite in their construction. But overall I found the narrative style of this book jarring, choppy and disjointed. To some people I guess it could be considered easy to read, but for the most part it reads more like a blog post than a novel, and I just couldn't get past my distaste for the style to let myself love it. ...more