The Rosie Effect is a sequel that didn't need to be written. I very much enjoyed its predecessor, The Rosie Project, when I sped through it in 2014. IThe Rosie Effect is a sequel that didn't need to be written. I very much enjoyed its predecessor, The Rosie Project, when I sped through it in 2014. In fact, immediately after finishing I hurried on to its sequel, keen to see where the next chapter of Don Tillman's story lead. But within a few pages I set it aside again, feeling perhaps overdosed on Don's foibles for now.
It was only when The Rosie Effect appeared as a book group book that I returned to it, two years later. And after finishing, frankly I rather wish I hasn't. As a sequel, The Rosie Effect is so lackluster and disappointing that it's tarnished my memories of the original.
There are a few chuckles to be had, but I felt that we were often rather cruelly set up to laugh at Don's expense - for instance in an incident where he prepares for impeding fatherhood by videoing children in a park - which ends about as well as you'd imagine.
The relationship between Don and Rosie that was originally so compelling and easy to root for decays here to the point that I could barely stand Rosie. Not only does she trick Don into getting her pregnant, she then decides that all the elements that make him so unique also make him uniquely unqualified to be a father. She displays no understanding of the man she married whatsoever. And we're meant to be hoping these crazy kids find a way to make it work? Give me a break.
If you enjoyed The Rosie Project and want to know where the story leads next, just sit in a dark room for twenty minutes and imagine it. I promise, you'll have more fun than reading this book.
Six years ago, Oryx and Crake was my first proper introduction to post-apocalyptic fiction, and I remember being so engrossed in it that I literally wSix years ago, Oryx and Crake was my first proper introduction to post-apocalyptic fiction, and I remember being so engrossed in it that I literally walked along the street with my nose stuck in the paperback. On this re-read I wasn't quite so glued to it, but my Kindle definitely got whipped out at every opportunity. I love this book. I remember finding it bleak and depressing as all get out the first time around, and I think having read The Year of the Flood in the intervening years altered that a little. As speculative fiction it's still dismaying, obviously - science advancing to the point where there's a cure for everything, so the only way to make money is to make us sick, society decaying, chaos reigning supreme - but it's definitely a damn good read....more
I think I enjoyed Harry August more in concept than execution. The idea of a person living his life over and over again, but retaining his memories anI think I enjoyed Harry August more in concept than execution. The idea of a person living his life over and over again, but retaining his memories and knowledge on each go around, is one with a massive amount of scope - I just didn't find the direction the main plot took all that compelling. I would have really liked to have read more about Harry's personal life - his marriages to various linear women, his relationship with his family - than the eventual cat and mouse he got pulled into over quantum mirrors and a twisted bromance. The secondary characters never felt fully fleshed out, which is a shame as I was a lot more interested in some of them and their actions and motivations than Harry's nemesis/object of obsession Vincent. I expected to race through this, but by the time the set-up and Harry's first few lives were through and the overall direction of the plot began to emerge, my interest wavered and it became slower going. Still, a really interesting idea that I have admittedly picked over quite a bit since....more
Nothing in We Were Liars is quite as it seems. Things are and they aren't. Equally, I'm finding it hard to say if I really liked it or not. It only toNothing in We Were Liars is quite as it seems. Things are and they aren't. Equally, I'm finding it hard to say if I really liked it or not. It only took a day to read, but then at 240 pages it's fairly bitesize. The style was off-putting at first, with line breaks that were either quite pretty or entirely arbitrary but it didn't take too long to get used to. There's a lot of violent imagery interspersed with fairytale-esque musings which made for an interesting mix. My main issue, really, is that all the hype and breathless blurbs I'd read beforehand collectively gasped over the AMAZING PLOT TWIST. Which I called at precisely 29% of the way through, and spent the rest of the book thumbing the "time remaining" button to see how many hours were left until I could get some confirmation. If I hadn't been on the look-out for a twist it probably wouldn't have seemed so massively sign posted, but it's always disappointing being proved right.
Still, I wouldn't say the rest of the book was a waste of time. There's a lot to think about and layers to turn over, even if the narrator herself is painfully self-obsessed. There are some very very pretty words... I just don't think I was among the intended audience. I might try this one on my little sister instead....more
This book was a joy to listen to. I'd heard from a lot of people that it's unrelentingly depressing, and I remember my mother having a copy in her bedThis book was a joy to listen to. I'd heard from a lot of people that it's unrelentingly depressing, and I remember my mother having a copy in her bedroom when I was young, which I'd try to avoid because the poor mite on the cover looked so glum! So I was expecting 18 hours of solid bleakness, but that's not how it went at all. If anything, I found it uplifting that the narrator, Frank McCourt, had such a dismal start in life, but was able to look back on it with such a cheerful slant. Yes, the McCourts had a terrible time of it, but they encountered a lot of goodness along the way too.
Many of his anecdotes were outright hilarious. I think the sombre but amusing nature of the book was best encapsulated in one about a school friend who had the other boys pray that his sister would live until at least September, so he could miss school for her funeral. He bribed them with a promise that they could attend her wake for free food and drink, and when he reneged on the deal, McCourt noted with a hint of relish that the boy himself died the following summer, when there was no school to be missed, which served him right.
The "growing up" portion of Frank's life seemed to come about very suddenly, but I suppose that was how it went when you were turfed out of the education system and expected to find full time work at 14. The last 3 or 4 hours did rather linger over his masturbatory habits, which wasn't entirely delightful, but all in all it was easily amongst the 3 or 4 best books I've read this year so far, and the top audiobook I've listened to to date.
Narrated by Frank himself, the tales and songs really came alive, and I was sorry when it all ended. I didn't realise until I was a good way in that the text is quite stylised - almost lyrical. Maybe I missed out by listening instead of reading, but books lacking punctuation for stylistic reasons have driven me barmy in the past, so perhaps not! I may get hold of the follow-up memoirs in time, but whether I do or don't, I'm glad to have read Angela's Ashes....more
The whole premise of this book annoyed me. I know it's a very teenage thing to want everyone who's ever hurt you to feel rotten about it, but ThirteenThe whole premise of this book annoyed me. I know it's a very teenage thing to want everyone who's ever hurt you to feel rotten about it, but Thirteen Reasons Why takes it to such a level that I couldn't empathise with the main character. In short, Hannah Baker commits suicide and leaves a set of tapes blaming eleven different people for it. Bar a few towards the end, the majority had done nothing to her besides standard teenage rubbish - voting her "Best Ass in the Freshman Class", dropping her as a friend etc. Hannah's response - to force them to live with guilt over her death for the rest of their lives - is so overblown that to me she came off as worse than most of the people she was blaming. (view spoiler)[In one tape, she admits to having let a girl get raped, yet despite acknowledging that she's ruined this girl's life, she still sends her a tape blaming her for her suicide. Wow. (hide spoiler)]
I left it a few days after finishing to review, because I thought I might mellow towards it, but just thinking about it has annoyed me all over again....more
**spoiler alert** While I was reading it, Sister felt like a 3-star book. By the time I'd finished, it was definitely worth 4 stars. Lupton's debut no**spoiler alert** While I was reading it, Sister felt like a 3-star book. By the time I'd finished, it was definitely worth 4 stars. Lupton's debut novel tells the story of Beatrice Hemming as she attempts to solve the disappearance of her younger sister Tess.
It's stronger as a piece of literary fiction than it is as a crime thriller. The whodunnit element itself isn't particularly noteworthy - all the clues and key plot elements are heavily lamp-shaded early on, so I didn't find the eventual revelation of the perpetrator particularly surprising. There just wouldn't have been as much focus and back-story on the cystic fibrosis angle if it was going to turn out to be Tess' barely explored erstwhile lover or student stalker. One major niggle is that if the police had just checked Tess' incoming phone records, they could have solved the whole case much sooner. Still, I'd heard that there was a twist ending, so I was fairly assured of having sussed the whole thing with a couple of chapters still to go.
I love the fact I was wrong.
Throughout the novel, the first person narrative tried my patience. I sometimes keep a WordPad file of notes and quotes while I'm reading, to help arrange my thoughts afterwards. Scanning back my thoughts on Sister, about 75% of everything I've jotted down is trying to fathom whether the narrative is in letter form, in Beatrice's head, or a mixture of both varying between the constant tense changes. I honestly thought it was just clumsily framed, a bit confused. But no. It's brilliantly, fiendishly clever, and I absolutely did not see the end coming at all. That alone made the book for me.
There's also some really lovely writing and imagery throughout. From the very first page and the evocative idea of kindness smelling of lemons, I was quietly confident that I was going to enjoy this. I think some of it was a bit overused - Beatrice associating the rustle of a dressing gown with her mother's comfort was repeated so many times it lost its initial tender impact. But on the whole I enjoyed the narration, particularly the way the snapshot images of Tess throughout were all pulled together at the end.
I expected to fly through Sister within a day - it actually took a couple all told, and I did find it quite easy to put down and be distracted from - but really, my niggles with it have all paled in light of the ending.
One thing I really loved was Beatrice's reaction to the floral tributes left for her sister:
The bouquets made sense to me now. Decent people were trying to fight evil with flowers; the good fighting under the pennants of bouquets.
I just adore this passage, particularly in light of the significance it takes on in the last couple of pages.
**spoiler alert** One Day follows Edinburgh University graduates Emma and Dexter over the course of two decades, focussing on July 15th of each year.**spoiler alert** One Day follows Edinburgh University graduates Emma and Dexter over the course of two decades, focussing on July 15th of each year. It's fairly amusing, with largely believable dialogue, and was just about entertaining enough to ensure I got all the way through it.
Sadly, that's about all it has going for it. Being believeable doesn't make the main characters in the least bit likeable. Dexter has a caddish charm about him that carries through, but Emma's soul purpose in the entire novel appears to be to moan. About herself, her appearance, her prospects, and absolutely every one and every thing else. She spends so much time belittling Dexter that it's beyond me why she means so much to him. He says that she's a good friend to him, but all we really see in these snapshot days are Emma being a moody cow. For over 400 pages.
The length does not work in the novel's favour - Nicholls just doesn't have enough interesting ideas to carry the gimmicky premise for that long, and so a great great deal of One Day is entirely mundane. There are long, long chapters where nothing really happens, yet when the protagonists finally get together, after years and years of increasingly implausible set-backs keeping them apart, it's all over and done with in a few dozen pages.
I know that this is largely the point. Nicholls isn't really writing about the romance, he's writing about the people, and how they grow and change with time. The book is a journey, in a way. Sadly, it's a journey that takes far too many long and twisting back roads and ultimately left me feeling travel sick. One Day to avoid....more