This is another solid effort from Elizabeth Wein, but it fails to live up to the high standard she set with Code Name Verity.
Unlike her last two booksThis is another solid effort from Elizabeth Wein, but it fails to live up to the high standard she set with Code Name Verity.
Unlike her last two books, this one never has a sense of urgency, even though you know from page one that the main characters are in peril. I think part of the problem is Wein's continued reliance on a narrative structure consisting of journal entries and letters. This puts the action at a remove and takes away some of the tension from the very serious situations her characters have found themselves in. And unfortunately, these documents are written by both main characters, and I had a very hard time remembering from journal entry to journal entry who the writer was until the other character was mentioned by name; their voices were just not very distinguishable from each other.
There's also a heavy reliance on coincidence that makes plot points both predictable and contrived.
I'm still a fan, but I hope Wein tries a different style with her next book.
Oh Jeffrey Lent, I think this is where we part ways.
Ever since I read Lent's first book, over 10 years ago, I've looked forward to reading new worksOh Jeffrey Lent, I think this is where we part ways.
Ever since I read Lent's first book, over 10 years ago, I've looked forward to reading new works from him. His second book, Lost Nation, blew my mind. But ever since then, I've struggled to connect with his writing, to the point where I couldn't even finish his last book.
Still, when I saw this one on Netgalley, I hit that request button immediately, because he earned so much good will from me for those first two, wonderful books.
But unfortunately, with this one I think he's lost me for good. Other readers have been describing this book as poetic and painterly, but for me it was just boring. Maybe that's just a failing of mine; I admit I have less patience than ever for long descriptions of nature and ruminations on good and evil and the nature of man (and woman).
Certainly there's very little plot to hang those meandering paragraphs on. The book begins with a crime that is explored and re-framed throughout as the circumstances surrounding it come to light, but it never amounts to much. Characters talk and talk some more about it, but no one really does much about it, and then it all comes to an extremely abrupt ending with next to no resolution. Now I know, my other failing as a reader is a desire for tidy endings, but honestly that's not even the problem here. I hadn't been paying attention to the page numbers and was shocked when I turned the page and found the Acknowledgments. I truly had no idea I was coming up on the end. Very unsatisfying.
I also have to say, the description of the book on goodreads is misleading. It says, "At the heart of the novel are two men: one who has committed a horrific act, but is slowly revealed to be a man of honor and integrity; the other, a seemingly righteous man of great spiritual dedication, whose lust for power within his community will eventually blind him to his own actions."
The "seemingly righteous man" is not one of the two protagonists of the book as this suggests, and it made me think for far too long that the second character who is truly at the heart of the book, August, was going to go down a dark path, which never happened.