Meh. That was my first reaction when I finished the book. Since I have been out of reading for so long, and my main bulk of reading is not done in theMeh. That was my first reaction when I finished the book. Since I have been out of reading for so long, and my main bulk of reading is not done in the department of this particular genre, I cannot say whether my 'gulping' of the book, i.e. reading it cover to cover fairly quickly, is due to the writer's abilities of pulling a reader in or my need to know the end (and no, I cannot jump to the end and just be done with it, I have the compelling urge to travel the literary road completely, start to finish). So the first, and one of the only, point for this book is the way it dragged me in and made it hard for me to put down. As a result, I finished reading it at 3 in the morning.
It is an easy read, fairly straight forward (in general), and moves along quite quickly. You don't tread in place for very long, or at all. However, it does leave some scenes wanting, though it is not plagued with the had-an-idea-so-I-ran-with-it-but-forgot-to-go-back-and-add-details feeling.
I do not expect every adventure/mystery novel to be a completely surprising. They rarely are anymore, the basic twists and turns are pretty much expected. However, too blatant foreshadowing ruins even the most trivial story lines. First Person Narration is mostly hurt (if not mostly plagued) by it, because once a character hints at a possibility and then ignores it, big, red, neon signs are lit up "danger, danger". When it is repeated, it also makes the character seem, well, to put it bluntly, dumb. Add to that a character whose mantra is "don't think", and you, as a reader, get the feeling that someone offended your intelligence.
Also, I know that most books have an agenda, a point, other than the plot, that they want to get across. Well, not books, but their writers. I'm aware that the matter of subtlety in this matter has been lost, or, rather, the ability to pass said point elegantly. While some books shove it down your throat, others, as this book, manage to make it quite delicate. Problem was, that while delicate, a) it could be seen a mile away (though I've already mentioned the subtlety issue); and b) it was not compelling. I did not read the opening notes (I never do before I read the book, a clean start), so I did not know what he was aiming at, but it was pretty clear almost for the start. To make it clear, he's trying to make a point about PTSD and the society's handling of army veterans in general. While it was obvious he aimed at these issues, I felt he missed them. I felt the main character was messed-up before he joined the army (with the very little information we have on how he was before), and afterwards he just seemed psychotic regardless of his service. I think bringing this very important issue on the table requires a different genre altogether, or a longer and more psychological book, one that isn't focused on the action, but rather the REaction. Despite the good intentions and the characterization of a man incapable of real emotional connection who's trying not to think, it didn't come off as a PTSD, but rather as an obnoxious and unrelatable character. It (the book, the story, the character) needs more depth, more poking fingers into the unpleasant places. More rawness, jabbing a hot poker into the wound. It's a bit too willy-nilly on this important issue.
I have trouble with books where I find the main character unpleasing. It is a serious problem when the terms I'd use to describe a character are: Stupid, emotionally numb, and psychotic. Of course, when we're talking about a character who is supposed to evoke empathy, it is even worse.
At the end, despite all that happened and could happen, two things occurred that annoyed me: 1. A forced happy ending - I am quite allergic to those, especially in non-romance literature (not that the forced happy endings in romance don't give me the hives, it's just they are more genre acceptable). While I guess some would argue it is not necessarily a happy ending (it is quite an open one), I still feel it is, especially because it feels forced. It doesn't feel natural, just sort of a filler to tie a loose end and to give hope to our beloved hero. I would see it end in a completely different way. Mind you, I am talking strictly about the last chapter, an afterward of sorts, and not the resolution of the mystery plot. It (i.e. mystery plot) was resolved, if not to my satisfaction, to an expected and presumable outcome (if you accept the premises in the plot up until then, that is). 2. Despite all that has gone through, despite all the realizations and enlightenment our hero had gone through, he has not evolved or grown one single centimeter. He stayed the same, but, mainly because of point 1, it doesn't seem like a human being that got stuck in place, rather like a book character that has not evolved. And in such a story, with such revelations, progress must be made.
To sum it up: I didn't like the main character, the moral seemed forced, and the ending fake. However, it is written in an engaging way, and the action plot is quite an interesting one (though not entirely innovative). I probably will not read this book again, but I cannot say that I would stay away from other books by the same writer....more
I am on the fence with this one - if I could, I would have given it 2.5 stars, but it's not because anything is wrong with the book, it just that I diI am on the fence with this one - if I could, I would have given it 2.5 stars, but it's not because anything is wrong with the book, it just that I didn't seem to connect much to it.
Maybe my expectations were off; it was definitely not the book I thought it would be, and it is probably my fault. The title and back cover made me think, for some reason, that this would be a whole lot more philosophical than it turned out to be.
Also, I had some trouble connecting with the narrating - I don't know if it's Murakami's style of writing (this is my first Murakami and, clearly, this is very different than his other works. I have the Wind-Up Bird Chronicles waiting on the shelf), the form of book, or the translation (I don't know Japanese, but some sentences seemed a bit off for me).
There were quite a few parts I truly enjoyed - some very charming descriptions and some sentences that made me laugh out loud (literally). However, they were sporadic in a way that sometimes made me wonder whether this book was written in gusts of effort (well, clearly it was, as mentioned in the forward and afterward), that the editing process did nothing to balance the different moods. It's not written in a clear journal voice, that would account for these changing moods, so for me it felt odd - to be completely engrossed in one part, but to feel almost indifferent in another.
I couldn't relate to the technical running parts, maybe because I'm not a runner. Although I did have spurts of longing to start running whilst reading (mind you, I severely lack the ability to run, even though I am in a pretty good shape). Actually it shows how well Murakami delivers his passion for running.
On a side note, there are quite a few baseball references that completely flew by me. It might have well been written in gibberish.
It felt mostly as a training log, with not as much literary and philosophical content as I expected. Again, probably my fault - mostly, my method for acquiring books is browsing the book-shop and buying what catches my eye (with a quick read of the blurb on the jacket and a short flip through the book to get a general idea of writing style), and this book was chosen exactly this way. If I read reviews, I probably wouldn't have purchased it (just because if doesn't seem to fit my taste), but I do not regret reading it.
All in all, it seems to be just not my kind of book, without having anything really wrong about it. I think runners would enjoy it more than other audiences. I can't say anything about fans of Murakami - because I've yet to read any of his other works and I can't say if there's any similarity in the writing style (this statement would probably be revised once I read The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles, though I have no idea when that will be)....more
I am on the fence with this one - I have yet to decide whether I liked it or not. I found the book confusing, had a few annoying grammar issues and itI am on the fence with this one - I have yet to decide whether I liked it or not. I found the book confusing, had a few annoying grammar issues and it left me with too many question marks: not the kind that helps you process the story, but the kind that leaves you with the feeling that too much information was missing. But, the more I think about the novel, the more it grows on me. Although, I can't seem to find the words the explain why. Just a feeling.
For me the novel was, for lack of a better word, spazy. I had a hard time tracking the conversions and some occurrences: having to re-read whole passages and sometimes just giving up and moving on. There were some dialogue instances that I felt there was an attempt to create a stream of consciousness or a two-dialogues-in-one sort of thing, but it only managed to read disjointed, bumpy, and unclear.
Also, the numerous financial talks (a lot of time delivered in long monologues), really managed to zone me out. This point maybe because of me - I tend to get cross-eyed when faced with financial/mathematical theories. At some point it felt almost like a finance guidebook, or the like. Not what I'm looking for in prose.
I have an affinity to hopelessly flawed characters, especially if they are on the sociably-unaccepted-behavior side of the scheme. Detached, lost, strangers to proper social conducts, unaffected, numb, bored, indifferent characters hold a special place in my heart. Eric Packer is such a character. Not only is he well defined, he's consistent.
However, he's the only developed character in the book. I could not, for the life of me, understand Benno Levin. Not who he is, not his intentions. Nothing. He definitely has an issue, but I don't think the answer of this can be found in Cosmopolis. That kind of misses the point of a book - it leaves you with the wrong kind of a question mark.
I don't understand Eric's wife - at all - to the point of contemplating whether she's just a figment of someone's imagination (Eric's?). She's practically a ghost, only set to appear when Eric notices the world around him. Though this paragraph can describe almost all other characters, as well.
Not all was bad. The out-of-context and candid conversations were refreshing: they were fun, they were flowing, they had a nice edge to them - even a charisma, maybe (do conversations have charisma?). Eric's character was appealing (to me, like I've said, I love them when they are obnoxious). Some scenes where painted remarkably, to the point I could feel and hear and smell the scenery (while some, I had the feeling, defied the laws of physics).
The most important thing to me when reading a book, is whether I get sucked in, and this is where Cosmopolis really sits on the fence: I was eager to read on, but the chapters are so long, you don't get the breath to say, "okay, I have GOT to read this next one". It became sort of tedious at some point, especially because I make it a point to put down a book only at the end of a chapter (I have weird reading rituals). There were enough places where the book could have been cut to insert chapters, and I think it would have helped with the book's overall flow (and not impede it).
It is my first Don DeLillo, probably a great grievance on my side, after reading the other reviews. I will try to read some of his other work; it may help me judge this one better.