It's been a long time since I enjoyed a contemporary novel as much as this one. Raw, gut-wrenching and socially conscious, it's an amazing piece of woIt's been a long time since I enjoyed a contemporary novel as much as this one. Raw, gut-wrenching and socially conscious, it's an amazing piece of work. All things considered, I think that it's only partially about corruption and social injustice - it's the main character, delightfully unstable and visceral and real, who glues it all together. Even though his actions are questionable to say the least, and he's as unreliable a narrator as you're likely to find, you'll find yourself rooting for him. And this empathy - reluctant at first, enthusiastic as the book wears on - is what really contextualized the injustice that's being denounced here, at least for me. If things have become so bad that you find yourself cheering for Balram to murder and steal from someone who is sort of, comparatively, essentially a good guy - that's because something needs to change....more
This is a book that features a bunch of awesome characters. There's a French governess with radical Communist views, a blind girl with weirdly racMeh.
This is a book that features a bunch of awesome characters. There's a French governess with radical Communist views, a blind girl with weirdly racist tendencies, a set of twins (one of whom has blue skin), a peculiar German oculist who won't wash and is named Grosse (tee hee hee). There's even a five-year-old girl who runs away from home at every opportunity and stands against robbers if they laugh at her.
This is typical Wilkie Collins material - charming, interesting characters against a background of mistaken identities, recovered eyesights, dashing against-the-clock rescues, and unrequited love.
The only problem is, for the first 300 pages, NOTHING HAPPENS. (How is this even possible? There is so much great material there!). Just looots of buildup.
Then something happens.
Then nothing again, then some more buildup happens, then everything happens on the last 30 pages. Then done.
They call them sensation novels for a reason, you know?...more
I have to say, I liked The Catcher in the Rye quite a lot, but I can still see where all the hate comes from. It talks about a phase most of us have gI have to say, I liked The Catcher in the Rye quite a lot, but I can still see where all the hate comes from. It talks about a phase most of us have gone through in our early teens, that moment when we discover all those social conventions we can't seem to understand or to adjust to, which can lead us to believe that everybody is a phony. I think that's particularly scary because adolescence is a time when people can feel very lonely, and when you believe that everyone around you is faking, it can become impossible for you to establish a real connection with anybody.
So I guess opinions are divided between "Ooooh, I get that, I identify with that kid" and "Yeah, I get that, I've been there, WE ALL HAVE, but people don't have a nervous breakdown, they learn from it and grow up - you self-centered spoiled hypocrite". As for me, I guess I'm kind of in between right now ;) Which is all right I guess - maybe that narrow gray zone is where the truth of this book lies....more