This was quite possibly one of the most violent and strangest books I've ever read, and I've read a *lot* of strange and violent novels over the years...moreThis was quite possibly one of the most violent and strangest books I've ever read, and I've read a *lot* of strange and violent novels over the years. It was also one of the most fascinating, clever and enjoyable ones, too - impossible to put down. Loved the cats, General Fuerte, Aurelio was just wonderful, and the narrative was simply magical. I can't wait to get lost in the next one!(less)
I hate to give this only two stars, but to me, this was a worst story in the Charlie Parker series to date, and I LOVE this series to bits. Somehow, C...moreI hate to give this only two stars, but to me, this was a worst story in the Charlie Parker series to date, and I LOVE this series to bits. Somehow, Connolly missed the mark on this one. WAAAYYY too much going on as usual, and I found myself skimming all the extra background characters, three pages describing the current weather, or wretched state of a bad neighborhood, as opposed to gritting my teeth and getting through it as in previous novels, because at least in those novels, much of that information ended up being somewhat important to the story. This was just tiresome, unnecessary narrative, and a bit of literary showing off, to be a bit harsh. He really could have cut out half the novel and you still would have known what was going on. Finally, in the end, the person responsible for the abduction that is the focal point of the novel came so far out of left field it was like... wtf?? I'm not sure if Connolly was going for a shocker ending, or if it was a lazy gotcha! but it really, really didn't work, and made all that extraneous information that much more annoying.
Louis and Angel were completely wasted, the Fulci brothers appeared only as a silly cameo waving at the literary camera (hi mom!) and even Charlie wasn't himself at all and no defining personality to speak of in this. He could have been any generic PI guest starring in any crime novel and I found myself missing the Charlie of the earlier, and far superior novels. The writing was also strangely and uncharacteristically formal, and all the cops, FBI agents and everyone else Charlie talked to were all the same smart-asses, and it became hard to tell them apart. Very disappointing, but I did finish it in about a week, so I guess it's still readable.
I am also greatly hoping the next one will be much better, because I'm not ready to give up on these guys just yet. *crossing fingers*(less)
Nostalgia review: One of my favorite books when I was little, and also one of the first books I ever read on my own. A wonderful and fun story for ver...moreNostalgia review: One of my favorite books when I was little, and also one of the first books I ever read on my own. A wonderful and fun story for very young kids.(less)
**spoiler alert** Update: I was in love with this beautifully written story up until the last 150 pages or so, and then it just went sideways, upside...more**spoiler alert** Update: I was in love with this beautifully written story up until the last 150 pages or so, and then it just went sideways, upside down, and just... I hate to say awful, but the final section was so surprisingly contrived with such ridiculous coincidences that I read the last pages in disbelief and with the vain hope that it would all come back together again. No such luck, and phooey! Another potentially epic read spoiled by a bad ending.
Such a shame, because up until then, this was a fascinating read for me. Ghosh was just magnificent - I adored him and wanted his babies - but which makes me wonder why Verghese failed to do the same justice to Marion and Shiva, as well as Genet.
Marion, the narrator, never entirely rang true for me, and his behavior at the end of the novel seems completely out of character, self-serving, with an unhealthy dollop of spoiled entitlement.
Shiva never emerges as anything more than a hastily scribbled enigma, and for how much Verghese loves to describe medical procedures and various ailments, why did he never explain what made Shiva so 'different?' He seems almost mildly autistic or perhaps afflicted with Asperger's Syndrome, but that's only a guess. And if that's the case, Shiva's sacrifice at the end is even more disturbing, but we don't get to know him well enough to form any judgement or conclusions.
Genet was also a largely undeveloped and hastily contrived character. She also didn't ring very true to me, particularly her pubescent emerging sexuality. I can't imagine any young girl who wasn't raised in a brothel behaving the way she did, and I hate to say this, but I think only a male writer would choose to depict a young, largely innocent girl this way. The way in which Genet reappears later in the story was its downfall for me.
The most difficult part for me to swallow though was the 'betrayal' by Shiva that's heavily alluded to right from the beginning. To me, it turned out to be a rather trivial, childish misdeed, and I found it difficult to believe that Marion would turn his back on his 'other half' for so long, for something so minor, and for someone as lacking in certain social behaviors as Shiva was. I actually kept waiting for Shiva's horrible crime that never happened, and then realized, 'oh, wait. You mean Marion's still choked over that? Sheeesh. Get over it, dude! In the wake of all the politic turmoil, horrific poverty, and fragility of human life that Marion witnessed on a daily basis, his behavior rang rather false and petty.
And, finally, the resolution with Thomas Stone came too little too late, and because we didn't know much about him throughout, it's hard to really care about what made him tick by the time his actions are explained.
Anyway, I still largely enjoyed this for the wonderful Ghosh, the magnificent depictions of Ethiopia and its culture and Veghese's lovely, gentle prose.(less)
Is it cheating to add to my list a children's book that I just read to my 16-month-old son this morning? No, not in this case, perhaps, because this i...moreIs it cheating to add to my list a children's book that I just read to my 16-month-old son this morning? No, not in this case, perhaps, because this is such a powerful little book that brought tears to my eyes and made my heart ache when I turned the last page. Wonderful, wonderful story that we should all reread every once in a while to remember its important message.(less)
**spoiler alert** This is actually a 3.5 star rating because, despite its faults, I couldn't put it down.
So here's the bad: the foreshadowing is so he...more**spoiler alert** This is actually a 3.5 star rating because, despite its faults, I couldn't put it down.
So here's the bad: the foreshadowing is so heavy-handed as to make you feel like you're getting clobbered over the head with an impending DOOM!! sledgehammer each chapter: "I wish I'd seen her clearer, because that was the last time I ever saw her." or "If I'd *only* known what would happen when..." GAH! Although it did keep me turning the pages, but seriously, too much is too much.
Wireman was an awesome character whom I loved, but he started to drive me batty toward the end with his constant lapsing into Spanish. I didn't mind it conversationally, and for fun expressions, but correct me if I'm wrong - he's an American who married a Mexican woman, right? So... as far as I know, when people are scared or freaked out, they blather in their mother tongues - not another language that they only kind of know - yet Wireman lapses into Spanish constantly at the scary parts.
Like a few other reviewers mentioned on here, King spends a great deal of time on character development, which is important and nicely done, but he did it at the expense of the plot because the EVIL DOOM creeping up on everyone really isn't explained all that well and seems terribly rushed and gimmicky with the talking dolls. Yes, talking dolls. And speaking of dolls, why would an entity as powerful as Perse be confined within a porcelain doll?? Was it a spell or a trick cast upon her, or was she created that way? What?
And the biggest grate, at the very end - the killing off of one very vital character in the most unimaginative way possible for no reason whatsoever. If the way this character died would have been connected with the earlier plot, well then, okay, karma, or no good deed goes unpunished and all that, but this was more like a throwaway, 'I'm not sure how to finish this, so I'll just kill 'em off and not make it such a hunky-dory conclusion after all.' Another GAH!
The good: this was still an entertaining read, and much better than King's more recent works. Edgar and Wireman's friendship was just lovely, as was Wireman's love for Elizabeth - classic King. Elizabeth was a wonderful character but we needed more of her. Oops, that's a bad.
Anyway - I'd rec this for a long plane ride or beach read, but don't expect anything on par with IT or The Stand.(less)
Like another reviewer on here said, this was pure crack for me. Crafty, clever, engaging, with fascinating characters, and unreliable narrators yet I...moreLike another reviewer on here said, this was pure crack for me. Crafty, clever, engaging, with fascinating characters, and unreliable narrators yet I never once felt manipulated and instead happily went along for the ride. 4 stars instead of 5 for some inconsistencies, unanswered questions, and a rather rushed ending, but this was still brilliant and a joy to read.(less)
I received this as a First Readers giveaway from Goodreads, and was very jazzed about it because I never win anything! I do wish that I could give thi...moreI received this as a First Readers giveaway from Goodreads, and was very jazzed about it because I never win anything! I do wish that I could give this a better review though, but quite honestly, I didn't enjoy it at all, though I did manage to finish it.
The main problem with this novel is the narrator, Catherine. I don't know if the author intended for her to be so... thoroughly unlikable, snippy, narcissistic and cold? - but that's how she came across to me from the first few pages on, and I very quickly got irritated with her. I suspect this was more a result of the author possibly not being able to effectively connect with his 'inner tough gal with good heart way waaayyy down there' than an actual desire to create such a thoroughly unpleasant character, because it's a rare author who can pull off writing in the first person as the opposite gender. Most of her dialog is described as ' I snapped,' or snarked, or she even admits a few times, 'I'm sure I sounded snippy.' She's also terribly distant and even cruel with her daughter, who, as her relationship seems to suggest, runs screaming to an older woman in search of the love she never received from her mother. The poor girl's father, whom Catherine was married to a for a number of years, doesn't even get a name in the novel, yet Catherine moons and moans endlessly over her much younger boyfriend, who she treats equally coldly, and it's never really clear why this damaged young man is so enthralled with her in the first place.
Oh, yeah, and the plot - the other problem. Totally implausible. Catherine gets involved in the investigation of possible serial killer because she found a body on her property and her neighbor happens to be the psychologist assigned to the case, who inexplicably tells her all kinds of confidential information, which she promptly blabs to anyone who'll listen. This would maybe *kinda* work if Catherine were a psychologist herself, or even an investigative reporter, but she writes a housekeeping column fer cryin' out loud! How to remove stains from your white shirts is her bag, not serial killers, so her involvement in the case made no sense whatsoever.
I hung in there though just out of curiosity as to who the mystery bad guy killer was, and I really shouldn't have bothered because oy vey - talk about out of left field, and the final paragraph is so ludicrous it actually made me laugh. If this were a first time effort by a debut novelist, I'd be cutting him a little more slack, and hey, better luck next time dude, but this just felt like a lazy writing experiment by an author who clearly seems capable of much better. A definite disappointment and I wouldn't recommend this to anyone. I'm also surprised by how many favorable reviews it has received - did I missing something??(less)
**spoiler alert** I'm in the middle of a Louis de Bernières binge, but when I saw this 5-pound, 842-paged baby in paperback in the bookshop - finally!...more**spoiler alert** I'm in the middle of a Louis de Bernières binge, but when I saw this 5-pound, 842-paged baby in paperback in the bookshop - finally! - I snatched it up, abandoned Cochadebajo de los Gatos, and happily devoured it in a ridiculously short amount of time because a time-travel yarn by Stephen King is impossible to resist.
Was it vintage King as some reviewers have been raving? No... not quite, but it probably came as close as we'll ever again get to the brilliance of IT, The Stand, Salem's Lot or even Christine. This was as much of an awesome page-turner as any of those titles, and I could not put the danged thing down or stop thinking about it when I wasn't losing sleep over it.
At the same time, a few major quibbles: the beginning was hard to swallow because Al and Jake's motives for rewriting history weren't all that clearly defined or terribly believable, and Jake was far too easily convinced by a man he barely even knew. I put that aside as I got sucked in, but the question, 'why are you doing this??' was constantly at the back of my mind.
Throughout the novel, Jake, himself, remained a shadow man or a ghost, as he's often referred to, because we came to know next to nothing about him or his past. I suspect King did this intentionally so as to render Jake a sort of 'every man', but I would have liked to have known more about him to better understand his motivations for the agonizing choices he made, particularly when he could have abandoned 'his work' and settled down to a wonderful life with Sadie, as many reasonable men would have chosen to do. I also got frustrated toward the rambly end and raced through it and may have missed some vital details, but some serious editing at this point would have made this a much better story. But then... the ending... satisfying, sheer perfection, for which according to King, we have Joe Hill to thank - nice one!(less)