This book is odd in its straight forwardness and style. It's perfectly enjoyable, with likeable, memorable and interesting characters. However, the pl...moreThis book is odd in its straight forwardness and style. It's perfectly enjoyable, with likeable, memorable and interesting characters. However, the plot is nothing nerve-breaking and you'll most likely not experience an excess of emotions following the Sisters Brothers journey (I was puzzled about the title, but their last name is Sisters and they're brothers, so there, nothing remarkable in that either).
To be honest, this book is a good read, but nothing more. As I said, the narrative style is odd. It's told in way you tell a story to someone when you're eager to get to a specific point or punchline, but you know it won't make sense unless you tell the story from the start, but it's really not that interesting, and you rush through it, skipping over details, making short-cuts, until what you're left with is a skeleton of a story. The story will make perfect sense, but you will feel no attachment to it until you get to the punchline, and then it'll all makes sense. This book, however, does not have a punchline, or maybe it does, but it's a very vague, weak one. It's honestly as if it lacks a point. It's highly imaginative and an interesting take on the Western genre (I think, I wouldn't know, I never read any - maybe this is how they're all told?), but it feels like Patrick deWitt had an idea for a story, and really wanted to tell it, but had no idea why he wanted to tell it.
It's even more odd because the book is filled with clever observations and has plenty of opportunity to drag the reader into it and get us involved, but it just sort of waves at them as they pass by. It's like reading Green Heart, but without the poetic language that made it so worthwhile.
Still, I don't regret the time I spend on it. It was recommended to me as a book with a strong sibling relationship, and in that at least I wasn't disappointed. The complexities of brotherhood and blood are described nicely and there are some great moments between the two. I could have used a bit more emotion or detail - both in regard to the brothers, but also simply in general - because as it is I'm left feeling the whole thing fell a bit flat.
I'm quite sure though, that if I sat down and really thought about this book - or if I think back on it in a few days or weeks - I'll have noticed many of the subtler things and perhaps that might raise my appreciation for it, but my immediate reaction isn't one of high praise. (less)
Oh man, I am an absolute sucker for sibling relationships (have I mentioned this before? Maybe I have), if not, know now that I am.
So you might guess...moreOh man, I am an absolute sucker for sibling relationships (have I mentioned this before? Maybe I have), if not, know now that I am.
So you might guess why this is (along with 'Mio, My Mio') my favourite Astrid Lindgren book. The relationship between Tvebak and Jonathan (the Danish names) is so unbelievably precious, and leaves me in tears, even now, despite it being a childrens book. Having a brother myself, I understand the devotion you can have for a sibling; I'd do anything for him. I'd face my own death if it meant saving him, and I wouldn't even hesitate. Because I love him more than anything and nothing else is as important.
I love this book, and I have loved it since I read it for the first time as a kid. It's a wonder of a children's book, really a masterpiece, handling some very difficult themes, and many of the exact things that I value so highly and have struggled with myself: trust, freedom, fighting for what you believe in, loyalty, and keeping the ones you love safe, whatever the cost. And this presents all of these things in a lovely, heartbreaking and hopeful tale.
There's no doubt I'll be reading this to my own children some day. (less)
To be quite honest with you, I didn't particularly like the first third of this book. It's got nothing to do with the way it's written (Neil Gaiman is...moreTo be quite honest with you, I didn't particularly like the first third of this book. It's got nothing to do with the way it's written (Neil Gaiman is as funny and imaginative as ever), it was something else. The things is, I'm a sucker for sibling relationships and I was pleasantly surprised to find one in this book. But Spider and Fat Charlie spend the first half of this book arguing and generally making each others lives hell and it just made me uncomfortable. There were other things too, like Charlies personality and the plot itself, while not being bad at all, they just didn't appeal to me that greatly.
HOWEVER, I continued reading and I am now unbelievably happy I did. After, well, not half the book, but almost, the plot changes. To me it seems as if the books has got two different stories in it, the story of Spider and Charlie's relationship and then the story of everything else. Everything else takes over half way through the book, and it gets really interesting. It also forces Charlie and Spider to start acting like brothers and working together instead of tearing each other apart, and that made me like especially Fat Charlie a lot more.
What really turned this book around for me, though, was the ending. I sit here, a day after finishing it, with a feeling of absolute satisfaction. I rarely get that from a book, sure I've read books with brilliant, fantastic endings, books that ended exactly the way I wanted them to, but never one that left me so satisfied on all fronts. I believe the biggest contributive to this feeling is Charlie. The one and only. He undergoes some serious changes in the book, and comes out on the other side as one of my favourite characters in fiction. His change from someone I sort of dislike, to someone I utterly love is so complete, and so brilliantly done, that I can't help but feel satisfied.
This is why in the end it gets 4 stars. It wasn't perfect, perhaps, but it was still fantastic.
Oh, and perhaps I should mention, I listened to some of the audiobook at one point, and while I'm not usually a fan of this, I was pleased I did it, because it helped me sort out my "inner Spider" voice. I'd gotten the way he talks completely wrong, and I liked him a lot better when I got it right. (I know it sounds that weird it should matter that much, but there was really quite a difference between my Spider and the audiobook's Spider. So I can recommend that!)(less)