I'm leaving this review unrated - because I'm too uncertain how to rate it. Probably stems from the fact that I harbor a lot of sympathy for the writeI'm leaving this review unrated - because I'm too uncertain how to rate it. Probably stems from the fact that I harbor a lot of sympathy for the writer and I find the premise very promising, but I finished the book with a distinct feeling that maybe my time would have been better spent doing something else.
This is a sort of spin on the myth of Cupid - I am reluctant to call it retelling, because it doesn't take specific myths and rewrite them, just takes the basic idea of cupid and his abilities. Maybe it's not even a spin, just making an assumption of what Cupid would be like if he existed (being a part of the Greek Pantheon makes him immortal, so naturally, he would be able to appear in modern day USA). Up to this point I am well with the story. Also, the idea that Cupid's abilities are reliant on his behavior is a great starting point and the character's are mostly lovable (the main ones, at least).
So there's a great base - a nice idea, good conflict and characters that are easily relate-able. However, beyond that, the book seems to crumble to bits. I think what it really needed is a good group of beta-readers, a strong editor and a hell-of-a-lot proofreading.
Some secondary characters are completely laughable (and not in a good way). In this type of light-humored novel, I don't expect multidimensional characters, especially not the supporting ones, but they are too one-dimensional to be forgivable. Though I did love Champagne and Chip had some redeeming qualities, on occasion.
The humor is inconsistent: at times it is great, but, more often than not, it feels forced. I have to say that some references (like the size of Ben's member, if ya know what I mean) feel completely inappropriate - it is not the kind of story to which it is in any way essential, and a story to which it is essential, is one I wouldn't care to read. I despise bodily humor. I prefer mine be served in a big heap of wit, not crudeness. Oh, there is that sort of humor, too, but not enough.
The story line, at some point, took a turn that should have dictated a different ending, but since the result was decided in advance, it was just forced back on track. (view spoiler)[When Ben and Anna join forces to try and 'save' Jack; make him back to who he was (the selfish, rambunctious, over-grown party-animal) so he can continue and make people fall in love, that's when things got off-track. Because, and this is where the importance of telling-vs-showing comes to life, despite being told that Ben and Anna aren't in love, it is clearly shown that they are. Jack was perfectly happy trying to save the world, one cause at a time. A better solution, in that case, is that love can be found despite Cupid. But, since it sort of shoots the story in the leg, the ending was circumvented so that Jack return to who he used to be and then we're told that Ben and Anna are finally in love. That ending also killed the development of at least one of the characters (Jack), and reduced him to a one dimensional cardboard picture. Which is very, very sad. (hide spoiler)] There are two methods to avoid that: 1. continue with the road the story taken and follow where it leads, 2. rewrite the section that circumvented the story, so it falls in line with the desired ending. A forced ending is one of my biggest pet-peeves when it comes to story telling.
Unfortunately, the other big pet-peeve is another thing that is prevalent in this book - faulty grammar and bad prose. There was too much of it to be ignore. One of the parts that made me want to practically hurl the book at the wall (the only reason I didn't was it meant hurling my kindle, which is one of my prized possessions) is near the end of the book, where the characters are described as screaming, and then was attached the quote "aaahhh!". You don't say! (from the setting it was clearly implied the content of the scream). If it was meant as a joke, it just came of amateur-y.
In conclusion: A for effort, D for result. ...more
This is a fun and quick read. You can really feel the influence Douglas Adams, Alice in Wonderland and The Little Prince had in this"They were toast"
This is a fun and quick read. You can really feel the influence Douglas Adams, Alice in Wonderland and The Little Prince had in this story. There are some truly giggle-worthy moments in the book, mostly in the tradition of said influences - nonsense uttered in complete seriousness, and completely mad characters.
However, there were some things that bothered me. First, the book needs more proofing - there is the occasional missing or misspelled word and there are some grammar issues that just need careful tending. The short length of it only emphasizes the few problems.
Secondly, it was lacking in show, not tell and general background information. To this moment, I have no idea how Neville looks like, how old is he, or who he is. Worse yet, one character is described as "about his age and about his height", which tells us nothing. The action scene at the end is also baffling, and I can't picture it. I think quite a few ideas could have been expanded, like the movement in space, for example. The way they are presented now creates holes in the plot and deus-ex-machina moments. It could have been viewed as nonsensical, if it was used more profusely and if the wording was different.
Third, and I'm not a big science geek or anything, but even within the book there were inconsistencies in logic (even the nonsense in Alice had some internal logic to it). I had a few huh?! moments that weren't appeased at all, and some I had to think over and find the logic myself. Something the reader could avoid doing with better showing. Inconsistencies weren't only in logic, but also in story telling - one moment an object is held in place, and the next it moves without it being let go.
I have to be honest, I missed the allegories and the satire until I read some of the other reviews. I may have caught on myself in a 2nd or 3rd reading, but once I read the other reviews it was easy to spot. So catching on late is probably my fault :p.
All in all, although it has its flaws, Doodling is a cute story and a fun, fast read. If it had been longer: 1. Maybe most of the issues would have been resolved and thus it would have received a higher rating, 2. if not, it would have gotten a lower one.
"The roar of the world was like the sound of a hundred rock bands all playing at the same time, only much, much louder"
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.