I know that it seems odd, but I got thirty pages before the end of the book before I gave up. Why not just push through to the end, you ask? Because I...moreI know that it seems odd, but I got thirty pages before the end of the book before I gave up. Why not just push through to the end, you ask? Because I had not an ounce of caring in me to continue. I fought with myself over the decision, but it was either quit and start another book or continue to sigh and stare at the cover with an overwhelming sense of ennui.
While the book has some great lines and an interesting--albeit not overly compelling--plot, its characters go nowhere. Setting aside the fact that the female characters are portrayed as either sex objects or annoying harpies with poor taste in decorating, the narrator himself sounds disinterested in the tale he is telling.
The conclusion I have drawn is that this sense of detachment I feel is part of Vonnegut's style, which I conclude is not one I enjoy. (less)
This was an enjoyable read, full of clever writing and intriguing plot twists. I have only read a little of Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate E...moreThis was an enjoyable read, full of clever writing and intriguing plot twists. I have only read a little of Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, and now I want to read that whole series as well as WCTBATH. The book begins in medias res, and I strapped in for the ride. The town of Stain'd by the Sea is well drawn and I found the mystery behind it enough to keep my interest piqued.
I thought the characters were interesting and delightful and wanted more time with them, but Snicket moves the narrative along at a brisk pace--which is understandable, considering it's a book written for younger readers--at times sacrificing character for story. But that is a minor quibble. And lest the book be made up entirely of fluffy whodunnit fun, the author hints at depth of character and tantalizing secrets of the organization he belongs to, which, presumably, will be explained as the series goes on. All in all, a fun read!(less)
I haven't read Hornby in a long time, and had forgotten how much I enjoy his writing style, which is eminently readable and full of humor. How To Be G...moreI haven't read Hornby in a long time, and had forgotten how much I enjoy his writing style, which is eminently readable and full of humor. How To Be Good is no different, if a good deal darker than Hornby' usual offerings.
One of the book's strongest assets is its narrator, Katie Carr. She is terrifically neurotic, philosophical, and frail as she questions her worldview and sense of self in the midst of broken marriage she's not sure she wants to fix, an affair she almost instantly regrets, and an unwelcome house-guest who shakes up her already shaken world. I found myself caught up in the family drama Hornby expertly presents, including being possessed with a desire to see DJ GoodNews receive his just rewards for his constantly insufferable behavior.
What happens instead is that I feel sorry for him, and I can applaud Hornby for refusing to allow GoodNews to remain simply and purely villainous. He is human too, and just as broken as Katie and her husband and children. My big problem came with the ending, which I was hoping would be uplifting, but instead was sad and cutting in its realism--which I find simultaneously moving and just a smidge disappointing.
Still. I'm a big fan of Hornby, and reading something so different by him made me want to read more of his books.
First off, let me admit: I did not finish this book. I may, at some other point, go back to it and plow through the rest, since it reads so quickly an...moreFirst off, let me admit: I did not finish this book. I may, at some other point, go back to it and plow through the rest, since it reads so quickly and easily--but for now I must set it aside. I was intrigued by the good press it has been receiving as of late, so I picked it up at a used book sale and started in.
Here is what I have found:
The book begins strongly, with Death's description of the colors it sees as it navigates the temporal world and the gut-wrenching tragedy Liesel experiences. But the setting becomes predictable, and despite that first flash of imagination, the story settles into a not-so-imaginative pattern. While at first Death seems bold as a narrator, I think that it distances the reader (aka me) from the story, and I was constantly annoyed by its revelations of future occurrences and insistence that the mystery doesn't matter. It matters to me! It was such a let-down to keep being told about things that would happen to the characters rather than seeing them happen naturally in the course of the plot.
I thought the author was being clever with the indented, bolded, and decorated sections that represented asides from the narrator, but wasn't sure what the point of their presence was: to be postmodern? To be humorous(since I did find it funny)? To be more relateable? Whatever the reason, I found it confusing, but not overly distracting and actually kind of cute. Am I supposed to find it cute? Because I did.
As for the characters, they seem to move in a way that serves the author's broader intention, and not much more. I found myself caring, but only on a surface level, desiring that others should not suffer, and not the type of caring that goes beyond that. It made me sad that I didn't care, and I hate not caring about characters. It is essential for my reading experience. Maybe at another point I will finish it and like it, but right now I can't and I didn't.
I read about 3/4 of this collection of essays. I very much enjoy Franzen's rambling writing style, but after about three of the essays I felt done. I...moreI read about 3/4 of this collection of essays. I very much enjoy Franzen's rambling writing style, but after about three of the essays I felt done. I think I may have wanted more of a variety in their subject matter, or just didn't find the narrative voice compelling. If anything, I wanted him to quit whining. Once I got to the section about Franzen and his friends' "adventure" involving a tire and a flagpole I found myself not caring very much about the outcome.
Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a writer's ability to make the ordinary interesting and meaningful, but something felt off, like Franzen was laying it on too thick that his childhood was awkward and his family dysfunctional. "The Corrections" is one of my favorite books--and I think I'll stick to Franzen's fiction, as I suspect his nonfiction more clearly reveals the unpleasant side of his personality. While sometimes that sort of transparency can aid an author--who must walk a thin line between lovable and hateable--in his case it only hurt.(less)
Unfortunately, despite its revered placement in the niche group of stoner-stream-of-consciousness lit, I did not like Fear and Loathing at all. The na...moreUnfortunately, despite its revered placement in the niche group of stoner-stream-of-consciousness lit, I did not like Fear and Loathing at all. The narrative is even less apparent than in On The Road, and the characters are flat out unlikable as well as being unintelligible. I didn't make it past page thirty. The only good thing I can say about it is that I like the inclusion of illustrations, even if they were ugly. (less)
I was somewhat let down by the lack of emotional payoff after the climax and felt that the characters,...moreExcellently written and compulsively readable.
I was somewhat let down by the lack of emotional payoff after the climax and felt that the characters, however well-drawn, lacked the substance needed for me to feel a strong connection--thus when unfortunate things happened to them, I felt only a degree of detached interest. Even so, Chabon delights my mind with his scintillating sentences and vocabulary and utter immersion into the world of the protagonist. (less)
Rise has to be one of the best, most moving and complex books I have ever read. I have only just finished it, so the emotions are still running high--...moreRise has to be one of the best, most moving and complex books I have ever read. I have only just finished it, so the emotions are still running high--hence my succinct review. Everyone should read this, regardless of what genre they affiliate themselves with...this is the type of book that defies convention and expectation. Simmons deserves all the stars!(less)