When he was a young child, our nameless narrator's family was pretty well-off and had a big house that he lived in with his parents and sister. But wh...moreWhen he was a young child, our nameless narrator's family was pretty well-off and had a big house that he lived in with his parents and sister. But when they hit against slightly hard times, the boy had to give up his bedroom with its perfect-sized washbasin, as tall as him, so that boarders could stay there. One such boarder was an opal miner, who fatally hits the boy's cat on the day he arrives and commits suicide the next day. This death sets in motion a very strange sequence of events - his neighbors suddenly seem to receive a lot of money, leading to a lot of ill-will, a strange family at the end of the lane seems to know everything there is to know about everything, and a malicious housekeeper-cum-babysitter arrives at the boy's house. His troubles are only beginning - he doesn't like his housekeeper, whereas the rest of his family are enamored with her; strange unsettling things happen around him (for instance, he once dislodged a worm from a hole in his feet) and his housekeeper just seems out to get him, and maybe even kill him.
Even though this book is shelved as Horror in Goodreads, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is so far away from being anything remotely horror. This short book is such a little gem that transported me to the magical world that Gaiman has built. It's one thing to enjoy such a vivid atmosphere, it's another to feel a part of it, as Gaiman manages to do.
I had read another Gaiman book previously, Coraline, which I didn't enjoy much, though I thought it very clever. Usually, that's the end of my new-author exploration, but Gaiman's books come with such strong testimonials that I very desperately wanted to read something else by him - something that, maybe, an older audience would appreciate more.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane has fantasy at its best. There are all sorts of inexplicable things happening - worms lodged in the feet? three people who seem to have been around since time immemorial, literally? a pond that may as well be an ocean? memories that can be easily wiped or modified? The best part is that you can read this book without questioning even one of those fantastical elements. I often moan in reviews of fantasies that the magical aspects of the books weren't explained well enough or weren't convincing enough. With this book, there is no explanation offered at all. You can ask ten questions for every strange thing mentioned, but the odds are that you won't think to ask - as a reader, I felt the same willingness to accept anything that children are bestowed with.
The family that lives at the end of the lane in the Hempstock farm, Lottie, her mother (Ginnie Hempstock or Mrs Hempstock) and Lottie's grandmother (Old Mrs. Hempstock), adds their own layer of charm to the story. This is a family that has purportedly been around for many years, even though Lottie is just eleven in the story. Our narrator knows enough to ask Lottie for how long she has been eleven. When the strange money-related events start happening, Lottie steps ahead to stop the "monster" responsible for it. She is confident that nothing will go wrong, except a lot of things do go wrong, some badly.
By the end of the book, my only complaint was that this book was too short. I know that I loved a book when I struggle to read anything for the next couple of days. I love how this book is written about children but is not for children. At the same time, Gaiman writes in such a way that he makes me willing to believe everything he writes. Definitely a strong storyteller.(less)
I still remember the thrill I got when I read my first Dan Brown - The Da Vinci Code. His book was already gracing so many bestseller lists that it wa...moreI still remember the thrill I got when I read my first Dan Brown - The Da Vinci Code. His book was already gracing so many bestseller lists that it was hard to back down and say no. Besides, I was very curious about this dude and whatever it was that he had written. I read. I enjoyed. I favorited. Then, I read all the articles of how he didn't really get all his history right and how he bungled some of them for maximum impact. Literary license, they said. That fogged my impression of Dan Brown tremendously, but not before I devoured two more of his books - Angels & Demons and Digital Fortress. Later, I also read The Lost Symbol, and was excited by the fact that it was set in a place I had actually visited multiple times (D.C.).
Still, none of the books, barring Angels and Demons really reached the caliber and awesomeness level of The Da Vinci Code, Inferno included. By now, everyone can write a template of a Dan Brown book in their sleep and they just need Brown to fill in the blanks with some essentials such as location and lead female character's name. They all involve his protagonist, Robert Langdon, racing across a huge landscape within a humanly impossible timeframe. He also seems to have a knack for knowing exactly what mystery to solve to get the next piece of a puzzle, plus, he seems to have a different lady companion each time (whatever happened to Vittoria Vetra (Angels and Demons), Sophie Neveu (The Da Vinci Code) and Katherine Solomon (The Lost Symbol)? For a supposedly unadventurous professor, he sure seems to go through women too fast.
Inferno has pretty much everything you would expect from a Dan Brown novel - there's a puzzle, there's a race against time, there's a woman (ha!), there's a life-and-death matter, and there's a bad guy. The puzzle is constructed almost with the intention that someone should solve it and stop the Bad Deed. Surprisingly, Inferno does deviate from the regular path considerably. For once, there is not much Symbology in here - there's just enough to warrant Langdon's presence. The prime art theme in Inferno is Dante and his The Divine Comedy. Halfway through the book, Dante plays second fiddle to the Malthusian theory, which is actually the main crux of the book.
Dan Brown spends a good chunk of the book exploring the population problem in the world as of today. The various characters give different perspectives on dealing with the problem. While it made me better appreciate the enormity of the problem we really have, I didn't quite enjoy Brown's repeated attempts to dance the issue in front of my eyes - the preaches honestly got tiring. Besides, a lot of elements came showing up repeatedly once in a while, almost as if Brown forgot that he had already mentioned them. A pretty good aspect of the book is the introduction into Transhumanism. I can't say that I've ever come across that term and the idea of it frightens and repulses me but it was fascinating to know that something like that exists.
Besides the few new elements, everything else about Inferno is standard Dan Brown fare. It wouldn't be a Dan Brown book if Robert Langdon could get shot in the head and not wake up from it without any repercussions. Plus spend the next 5-6 hours racing across the world and solving a mystery that would in reality take days, or at least more than a day. But this is Robert Langdon, why am I being so hard on the superman?(less)
In 2011, I read almost 20 graphic books. However, since then, I've read only four - Drama included. I'm not sure why I didn't seek out enough graphic...moreIn 2011, I read almost 20 graphic books. However, since then, I've read only four - Drama included. I'm not sure why I didn't seek out enough graphic books lately, maybe I got worn out by the format and needed a break. When I saw Drama at the library this week, it was hard to ignore it. It has exactly the style of illustrations I love - it makes you think that you're going to have fun with the book. Moreover, having read a few reviews of this book in other blogs, I knew it comes with strong recommendations.
In Drama, seventh-grader Callie is part of the stage crew that designs sets, costumes, lighting effects and props, among other things. She has had a long fascination with drama and theater, having even auditioned once for a role (she sucked as a singer). Before long, she found out that designing sets is what she loves to do. In this book, the stage crew decides to put up "Moon over Mississippi" and they begin auditions. Between planning for the show and her struggling non-existent love life, Callie was going to have a very difficult year at school.
If you haven't read Drama, you should be heading now over to your library or bookstore and grabbing it from the shelf. If someone else is holding the library/store's only copy of the book, feel free to nudge and bug that person until you can get hold of it. Drama was a very refreshing quick read. I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to read it again. Poor Callie is falling in love with all the wrong/unavailable guys. And there is one guy trying hard and rudely to get her to notice him. Luckily for her, she has stage work to distract her. Being in charge of set design, she has been very effusive about her ideas for this year's drama, including using a real cannon as a prop. Of course, that isn't accepted, but there's still a cannon and oh boy, poor Callie just doesn't seem to be able to get that to work. It was delightful reading how she treads through her seventh grade with all these problems over her head.(less)
Ruth, Anna and Lucy are three young women studying/teaching at Columbia University. They are quite addicted to games and the theories of games and enj...moreRuth, Anna and Lucy are three young women studying/teaching at Columbia University. They are quite addicted to games and the theories of games and enjoy spending long hours talking about various aspects of game-making. At the beginning of this book, they are working on a game that's Ruth's brainchild. The idea of the game is to provide a virtual experience of a mental institution that used to be located exactly where one of the current Columbia University buildings is situated. While that's happening, Anna comes up with her own idea of a game which involves some occult-like rituals in front of several supporters. But when Anna's brother Anders becomes involved, things begin to go wrong terribly.
I gave up on this book. I don't typically review DNF books unless I have something to say, which in this case is a lot. I actually gave this book a lot more tries than I usually would with a book that's not piquing my interest. At many points during my reading experience, I wanted to put it down but since I was reading it for the tour, I kept going back to it.
The Magic Circle has quite a few elements I like - gaming, a university setting, women characters, nerdiness and psychological issues. It starts off demonstrating the women's strong interest in games and their plans for Ruth's gaming project. Unfortunately, that's all I enjoyed about this book.
The characters didn't feel well-built to me. And that's sad because there was so much potential here. I found the three protagonists acting out of character too often. They are portrayed as very good friends and then suddenly, they act way too formal in their conversations.
I didn't feel there was a proper build-up of essential plot points. For instance, one character has been suffering from eating disorders for a good part of her life but that isn't mentioned until page 88. After that though, it is brought up in every other paragraph - almost as if all the relevant facts need to be revealed. There was also a very weird ritual described in the book - too weird it made it very implausible. I got bugged by the long trivial conversations and the descriptions of several minor events in the book. Maybe they were all meant to be significant later in the book and if I had been more patient, I may have discovered them but the build-up wasn't great and I couldn't quite understand why a character often made a mountain out of a molehill. It made me wonder too much about whether I was missing the overall picture.
The author definitely writes beautiful sentences but the sentences didn't gel well when put together. I found the whole narration very dry - with its long-winded sentences and heavy usage of uncommonly used English words. I almost got the impression that a lot of the big words were used more for impressing the reader than to impart any purpose.
Overall, I'm disappointed. Maybe I wasn't the right audience though from the synopsis, I would have jumped for this kind of book any number of times. The whole execution of it just was too poor and even though The Magic Circle is under 200 pages, I couldn't quite put myself through the second half of the book. Nothing of any significance had happened when I put the book down, which made me not miss it. I wish I could say something more redeeming about this book and since I'm the first reader on the tour to review this book (and there doesn't seem to be anyone in bloglandia who have read this book), I'm not able to point you towards other reviews. Hopefully, others would have enjoyed it more than me.(less)
This book doesn't really need any extra publicity. It's one of the most loved books from last year and after finishing it, I could see why. I didn't l...moreThis book doesn't really need any extra publicity. It's one of the most loved books from last year and after finishing it, I could see why. I didn't love it as much, but I definitely would highly recommend this book for this reason - despite being about cancer, there is so much strength, humor, power of the human spirit and most importantly, genuine people in this book. Cancer is no stranger in my family and it's still not a word we would utter carelessly or unfeelingly around here. I don't know who the author used as reference for the book and I cannot honestly state that he got it right but it felt very right to me.
There were a lot of times I couldn't read past a word or sentence - you know that feeling of something stuck in your throat and you can't swallow because there is so much emotion in your heart that there's no space for an extra lump there. That's how it felt often when I was reading this book. Not because of how sad the book is. Quite the opposite - it was actually cheery and I felt guilty many times of laughing or smiling. I did see the end coming early in the book but that didn't make me disappointed in the book. The only thing that bugged me was how cheesy the book was initially - I really wish I didn't feel bothered by adolescent urges and desires and in fact, I don't - however, I do think there are some authors who get that aspect right while some just suck at it (sorry!). Ultimately, I would recommend this book only if you really can handle crying (a lot).(less)
Navigating Early was a delightful little book packed with a lot of surprises, wonder and beauty. I don't remember all that much about this book now an...moreNavigating Early was a delightful little book packed with a lot of surprises, wonder and beauty. I don't remember all that much about this book now and looks like I didn't take any notes on my reading experience but I remember how much this book warmed me when I read it. At the end of WWII, Jack Baker's navy father moves him from Kansas to a boarding school in Maine, where Jack meets the strangest of boys, Early Auden. To Early, the number Pi is more than a number - it is a boy who travels the world using just the Pole star for guidance. When the two boys embark on a trip to find the great bear that has been terrorizing people for a while, Early compares their story with that of Pi's. As astonishing as Pi's story is, Jack is even more astonished by a lot of things they see en route and also by how much more seriously he feels compelled to take Pi's story.
I picked this book to read mainly because Vanderpool won a Newbery Award for her Moon Over Manifest. I tend to have a lot of success with Newbery winners. That said, Navigating Early didn't quite reach my expectations but I soon discovered that my not loving this book much had to do with not discovering one essential fact about Early. I won't reveal what that is but it has to do with his "disorder" (I don't know how I could have missed it - the signs were everywhere). But once I came to know it, the whole story took on a very different meaning for me and that's when I began to notice the sheer power of this book.(less)
Set somewhere in the land of Aladdin and Sinbad, Haroun lives in a city so sad that it had forgotten its own name. The people had forgotten how to lau...moreSet somewhere in the land of Aladdin and Sinbad, Haroun lives in a city so sad that it had forgotten its own name. The people had forgotten how to laugh or smile, and even the fish that lived in the nearby sea were called glumfish. In this land of the sad, Haroun's father, Rashid, was the cheerful storyteller, whose never-ending stream of tales made people either very happy or very jealous. One day, Rashid's wife runs away with the neighbor, leaving Rashid heart-broken and incapable of making new stories, and Haroun unable to concentrate on anything for longer than eleven minutes. On the eve of a possible career- and life-destroying performance at a political rally, Rashid and Haroun fret about their bad luck when a genie appears in Haroun's bathroom.
I had a feeling that I will not be able to even grasp the Rushdieness of this book, however innocent the title sounded. Funnily, if I were told to read the book and guess the author later, Rushdie would have been nowhere in the list of possible candidates, as this book was as different as possible from what I remember of my attempt at reading .
Haroun and the Sea of Stories felt like a whiff of lively breeze. Reading this book made me remember the joy of reading magical books like Harry Potter and The Night Circus. While not as long or as atmospheric, Haroun and the Sea of Stories deserves its own place on that shelf of fascinating fantasy books. Although the fantasy in this book does have symbolic meanings and a few "moral of the stories", one could read this book for pure pleasure and nothing more.
I loved the magical world within this book, even though I felt it a touch overdone at points. Occasionally, Haroun comes across people or things in the fantasy world that reminds him of someone or something in his real world - I loved the implication that the two worlds need not be disparate. You need stories in the real world, just as you need reality in stories. The writing slips once in a while into an awkward childish tone, but for the most part, I found it engaging. Children and adults alike could enjoy this book.(less)
At Lincoln's workplace, it is a rule that the work email should not be used for personal purposes, and it is Lincoln's job to enforce that ruling and...moreAt Lincoln's workplace, it is a rule that the work email should not be used for personal purposes, and it is Lincoln's job to enforce that ruling and warn any employee found violating the rule. Some have been fired, while a few have been let off with warnings. Even Beth and Jennifer, two employees in his company know of this, but that doesn't stop them from slowly testing their boundaries by starting off with small talk and then expanding into talking about all their problems through email. Lincoln knows he should stop them, but initially they seem harmless and over time, he starts getting intrigued by these two women. He ends up liking them so much that he starts looking forward to their emails. And then he falls in love with Beth, who doesn't even know him.
I won Attachments couple of years ago on someone's blog, when it first came out. At that time, even though many said that they enjoyed it, I wasn't interested. The premise didn't quite jump at me and I had been having a bad time with similar books. And so it languished on my shelf until Rainbow Rowell burst on the book scene early this year with her Eleanor & Park. I was still not so sure but after all the solid reviews, it was hard to pass by this book and not read it.
I'm glad that I eventually got to this book. Attachments wasn't a five-star read but it was so much fun to be lost in it!
I'm not sure if they still do the monitoring email thing. Lincoln's company seemed to be obsessed with keeping its email filters clean. Lincoln thinks it's a petty priority but he is at a stage in his life when he isn't sure what he wants to do. So he takes up this menial task, while he figures things out. He was also staying with his mom, who loved having someone to pamper. Lincoln doesn't mind it one bit but his sister has been trying to get him out of there. So with the boredom that is his job everyday, when Beth's and Jennifer's emails start showing up in his filters, he can't help but read them.
Beth and Jennifer, however, don't seem too worried about being caught. At least Beth wasn't. Jennifer would still freak out occasionally, while Beth seemed to be tempting the dragon with each email. Almost-happily married Jennifer's big problem is that she doesn't want kids but her husband does. Beth's problem is that her boyfriend isn't exactly behaving like a boyfriend should but she doesn't quite want to be single. As these two spend their days chatting about love matters via email, Lincoln was getting attached to them.
The whole story is really not such a big deal. It's all predictable, and nothing shocking happens. But it's so heartwarming that I enjoyed every bit of it. It gives the same feeling as watching movies like When Harry Met Sally or You've Got Mail or many other romantic comedies does. (It is not a coincidence that almost all the romantic movies I talk about star Meg Ryan!) You can't help but smile throughout. And when you close the book, you feel genuinely happy like the characters were your best buddies. I'm a sucker for romantic comedies. There's nothing better I like to watch on TV than movies that make me feel all girly and warm and happy and smiley without making me roll my eyes. When a book does the same thing, you can't go wrong with it.(less)
Beatrice is nervous. She has a test coming up soon. The test. The test that will determine her future. On a particular day each year, all sixteen-year...moreBeatrice is nervous. She has a test coming up soon. The test. The test that will determine her future. On a particular day each year, all sixteen-year olds have to take a test that will find the dominant quality they possess and thus find the faction that best suits them. A day after the test, they have to make their choice. If they choose a different faction from the one they were born in, they cannot return back or meet their parents. Beatrice's test doesn't go as expected, forcing her to keep a secret, and she ends up making a choice that surprises everyone. However, when she begins to hear hints of a growing conflict, her secret becomes suddenly life-threatening and she has to do something to save herself.
Finally, the review I've been writing in my head for two months but have been really reluctant to translate that to paper (or bytes). I almost feel like I'm standing among a sparse group of people on one side of the fence facing a huge fanbase who loved this book. Honestly, I found just one other person on my Goodreads friends' list who rated this book at 2 stars, everyone else gave it 4 or 5. I'm bordering at 3. You see, I didn't get the appeal of this series. At all. And that was quite disappointing because it is being touted as the next Hunger Games phenomenon, and I loved the Hunger Games series! Just recently, soon after the release of the first HG book, someone in the publishing industry was asked what next after the entire HG movies were released. And he pointed at the Divergent trilogy. I could only look down disappointed. (I wish I had noted down who said this, but right now you only have my word here and it's true.)
Divergent is the first book in yet another YA dystopian trilogy in a market that now seems saturated with them. I love me some good dystopia. I love watching dystopian movies and I like imagining all the possible ways the world can reach a state of utter chaos and mismanagement. (That makes me better appreciate today's world as we know it.) Divergent is actually good. It invests in the concept of a test to determine one's true calling but hides that behind the idea that the individual always has choice in the matter. Quite unlike The Giver, in which what you were deemed good at becomes your job for life, but still not too different for me to not raise my eyebrows. There are five factions in Divergent - each valuing a particular trait - truth, insane daredevilry bravery, selflessness, knowledge, peace. Obviously, there are people who do not fit in either. They become the homeless who have to live on other people's kindness (usually those of the Abnegation faction). And then there are people who spoiler... mumble ... spoiler. As our heroine of this trilogy is.
My big issue with the book is that I felt the author was trying too hard to create the dystopian world. Unlike many other utopian and dystopian lit I have come across, this world never quite felt natural to me. A lot of the elements felt too convenient, and so much goes unexplained, violating the 'Show, Don't Tell' adage. I was reminded of too many other books while reading this one. I am by no means saying that the idea isn't original. It is, to a limit. I just felt that I had read other better similar books, especially The Giver and The Hunger Games. I ended up feeling that the world was standing on some weak stilts. Even the conflict at the end felt artificial and its motivation felt very weak. Although there were very vague hints of some impending danger, the conflict felt to me to have come out of nowhere - without sufficient buildup and anticipation. I guess I could say that it felt more like a terrorist attack than a planned war. But at the same time, knowing something about the coming conflict, spoiled the element of surprise that terrorism usually brings.
As is customary now in YA dystopia, there is some romance too. Actually, cross that. There is just a little more romance than I felt comfortable with. Which is okay. I've never enjoyed the fixation with romance in YA books, but its presence didn't really bother me because I expected it. What did bother me was how lame it all sounded. There is an unapproachable guy who is up to his forehead full of secrets and we have a heroine who is feeling somewhat attracted to that image. Ring a bell, anyone? At one point, the romance felt too sugary and eye-rubbing for me to even enjoy it.
I did like (a little) Beatrice's character. I didn't care for any of the other characters - almost all of them felt very flat to me. I initially felt guilty that I was again being too demanding of strong characters before I remembered that there are other YA books with strong characters. I liked Beatrice because of the reason I like a woman/girl character - she is independent, thinks for herself, can protect herself. I also liked the whole training session in the book - there are skills to be learned and the competitors are ranked by their performance. A little game in any book is always welcome.
I should probably end my review now, lest I get some tomatoes hauled at my face. If you haven't read this book yet, you may not need to take my opinion here. There are PLENTY of readers who loved it, which makes me the oddball, something that rarely happens with dystopia. Last weekend, I went and picked up Insurgent (the second book in the trilogy), because that's how confused I am about my reading choices, but I am yet to open a page of that book. I am thinking it is something I could read over the weekend in a couple of sittings, just to know what happens, but unless Insurgent does the Divergent formula a little better, I may not find my thoughts on that book any different.(less)
Nathan McMann is leaving for his usual hunt, when his dog gets a bit frantic. When Nathan goes to investigate, there is a newborn baby almost half bur...moreNathan McMann is leaving for his usual hunt, when his dog gets a bit frantic. When Nathan goes to investigate, there is a newborn baby almost half buried. He races to save the baby and finds that he is keen to adopt the child if no one comes to claim it. Someone however comes to take the child - the baby's grandmother. He makes a deal with the woman - that someday she introduces him to the child. What he gets is more than that when the lady comes with a troubled teenage boy at his door one day and hands him over to Nathan.
When Danielle asked me if I wanted to read and review any of Catherine's books - I jumped to pick this one. I was just somehow fascinated by the synopsis. I read this book months ago, but it is only now that I am getting to it. When I Found You was a sweet read. Nathan really really wanted the baby boy to be his but even when he is presented with the chance to bring up the kid (who is also called Nathan), he doesn't falter, even though his wife doesn't agree. The two don't really hit it off. Nathan the teen is very rebellious and doesn't respect authority. Nathan the man however has immense reserves of patience that sustains him. There is a lot that happens in this book - teen Nathan's coming of age, the relationship between the two men, the evil fates that shine on them one way or the other. Although I wasn't wowed by the story, I enjoyed reading about their trials and bonding.(less)
Poppy Wyatt seems to have everything going in her favor - she is about to marry the ideal man - successful Magnus Tavish whose parents are even more s...morePoppy Wyatt seems to have everything going in her favor - she is about to marry the ideal man - successful Magnus Tavish whose parents are even more successful university professors. But on the very day Magnus' parents are visiting, Poppy loses her engagement ring, which is also a family heirloom. On top of it, she also lost her phone and while she anxiously tries to ponder missing the one message saying her ring has been found, she finds another phone in the bin. Happy to find a functional discarded phone, she quickly tells everyone to text/call her at this number, only to get a call from someone named Sam Roxton asking for the phone back since it belongs to his company.
Sophie Kinsella has done it again. She made me laugh from the first page without making me roll my eyes or feel ridiculous or cry 'cheesy'. I stopped reading light women fiction years ago, but Kinsella is the only author that I still happily read, knowing she won't disappoint me.
I've Got My Number rolls along standard Kinsella lines - the plot is pretty much predictable, the protagonist has low self-esteem, there is a hot guy who we know she will end up with but she is totally clueless about the guy, the guy is some high flying corporate guy with plenty of influence and moolah, things go wrong and then wronger and then even wronger than possible from the first page, there are plenty of laughs and deja-vu moments, and most significantly, the central character knows how to stand on her feet when it matters.
That pretty much sums up any Sophie Kinsella book, and while I typically hate formulaic plots and predictability, there is just something about these books that make me enjoy them more than feel pulled away. I find her novels set well in environments that I can relate to, and not something that feels more of a historic before-my-days past.
I enjoyed the addition of technology in this book - it was fun reading all the texting that went on and on between Poppy and Sam. Poppy's overuse of X's and O's made me snort - I have a few friends who speak mostly in X's and O's and that annoys me, ha! True, some of the events that happen were a little too convenient, but I knew what I was getting into, so that was fine with me. I didn't really like where Magnus' character ended up - I thought that could have been done better, and the introduction of a corporate scandal towards the end kind of sprung up on me, but otherwise, I've Got My Number was a truly delightful read.(less)
Ian Hunt is working a regular day at the dispatch office, receiving more prank calls than genuine ones at the job, when a call comes through from a pa...moreIan Hunt is working a regular day at the dispatch office, receiving more prank calls than genuine ones at the job, when a call comes through from a payphone. The distressed caller is a girl who introduces herself as Maggie Hunt, Ian's own daughter who has been missing for the past seven years, and whose funeral was arranged four months earlier to give her mother closure. She had just managed to escape and is hoping for help, but her abductor manages to get her in time. Ian, now convinced that his daughter is very much alive, will stop at nothing to get her back, even if it means punching a few noses, chopping a few fingers or killing someone.
This book is not really my usual fare, but I only chose it because Ryan David Jahn wrote it. After loving the ingenuity of Good Neighbors, I was looking for more magic when I opted to read this one. Unfortunately, this one just didn't do it for me. I know it is my elevated expectations that spoiled my enjoyment because otherwise, The Dispatcher was a pretty good crime novel.
One of the main strengths of this book is its characters. There are quite a few narrators, from Ian to his daughter, from her abductor to Ian's friend. Except for Maggie, the daughter, all the other narrators were very well-etched. Maggie felt quite weak to me, and I guess it's because of the minimal information I got about how she has been managing for seven years - her education, her mental condition, her emotional maturity, etc. She didn't appear too affected by the abduction - there is a lot of anger but not any of the emotional effects I would expect to see.
The Dispatcher was pretty fast paced and a bit gruesome. There are some really stomach churning moments and a lot of bloodshed in the book. I didn't feel all that uncomfortable reading the book, but it should be stated that there are quite a few kidnappings and child killings in the book, in case that's something that gives you a headache. The gruesomeness was pretty vivid in Good Neighbors as well, but I think The Dispatcher will take the cake in that department.
The plot itself was pretty well setup. My usual problems with crime novels are how much the writer teases the reader - the good guy will be thiscloseto catching the bad guy before something happens, he escapes and I roll my eyes. I didn't feel manipulated in this case - the expected things happen, and then some unexpected things happen, but nothing that involves the police coming in at the last minute after all the gunshots are fired. The setting being in Texas, there is a lot of landscape descriptions that are not really my cup of tea but will be delicious to anyone who loves a good setting.
One of my issues with this book has to do with my ebook copy itself. I read it via Kindle, sent directly from NetGalley, and the copy was pretty badly organized. The paragraphs weren't properly split up between perspectives. The transition from one narrator to another is not so obvious that sometimes I am a couple of paragraphs into the next person's story before I realize it. This was my first time reading NetGalley copies on the Kindle app - I usually read on my Nook. Not a big issue, but a jarring note, nevertheless.
Despite all the wonderful things I wrote about this book, it didn't really intrigue me much. The middle portion of the book slowed down quite a bit and there wasn't much happening either to move the story along. There are many other characters who come and go through the book. I was disappointed that some of them aren't explored more considering the strategic placement of quite a few subplots. I also felt that Maggie's abductor was occasionally acting out of character - of course, what's out of character for a kidnapper is debatable. His wife was quite frustrating most of the time that I wasn't sure what her ailment was. It was these weak characterizations that eventually took away my enjoyment. I did however like how the author left the ending ambiguous, and although I would love to know how Ian manages after it all ends, I do see how I will be dissatisfied with whichever ending the author chooses.(less)