A few recurring thoughts kept cycling through my head as I read this:
1) It reminds me a lot of how Air Chrysalis, the book ghostwritten by one of the...moreA few recurring thoughts kept cycling through my head as I read this:
1) It reminds me a lot of how Air Chrysalis, the book ghostwritten by one of the main characters, is described in its earliest stages. The story is pretty good -- it has a persistently eerie, dreamlike quality that engaged me when every other aspect failed -- but the actual writing is atrocious. Some of this is probably due to aspects being lost in translation from Japanese to English, but still: this badly needed an editor, and it easily could've been chopped down to 400 or 500 pages without losing anything crucial.
2) Relatedly, this also reads like the first draft of a NaNoWriMo manuscript. I've participated in that contest three times, so I know all the tricks: repeating yourself constantly, quoting passages from other books at great length, rambling interior monologues at every opportunity. It honestly felt like Murakami was aiming for quantity over quality.
3) I forget where I first read this, but somebody once mentioned that when it comes to certain male writers trying to write female characters, they tend to give themselves away by the number of times they mention their characters' breasts. On the one hand, it's clear Aomame has some body issues, and Tengo's a heterosexual male; on the other, Jesus Christ, the only time I think about my boobs that much is when I accidentally go running without a sports bra.
Also, uh...(view spoiler)[I really would have appreciated it if the sex scene between Fuka-Eri and Tengo had been treated as rape, which it blatantly was. It doesn't matter if it was female-on-male and supposed to be for some ~*higher purpose*~, if one of the involved parties is literally unable to move and keeps thinking I don't want this, YOU'RE FUCKING RAPING HIM. And it just...kind of gets brushed aside, despite Murakami not shying away from the topic of rape in other parts of the novel. The whole thing left a pretty awful taste in my mouth. (hide spoiler)]
In the end, I stuck with this mostly because, when you're already 500 pages into a nearly thousand page novel, you feel like you've come too far to give up now. And like I said, the story itself wasn't bad (which is why I gave it two stars instead of one)! It's just that every other part of the book was no good.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Oh, Homestuck. Due to all the myriad things it has to set up, Act One is probably the slowest of all the acts -- even Hussie admits the story takes a...moreOh, Homestuck. Due to all the myriad things it has to set up, Act One is probably the slowest of all the acts -- even Hussie admits the story takes a bit of time to achieve liftoff. Not so great for those times when you want to thrust this book on somebody and go LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT HOMESTUCK, but hey, something this massive has to start somewhere.
What bumps up the rating for me is all the little bits of trivia Hussie tucks onto the bottom of each page. Sadly, I'm getting too old to dig through endless forum posts and perform countless re-reads of source material to catch all the nuances (of which there are many in this crazy puzzle of an epic), so those notes were a great way to open up the story a little more. I don't know how useful/insightful they'll be for hardcore fans, but for me, they were pretty excellent!
Anyway. Because I like the ease of flipping through a book -- especially compared to trying to dig through six or seven thousand pages of online comic -- I think I'm pretty much destined to buy all the other Homestuck graphic novels as they're released. It may lose a little bit in translation, but for me, the trivia and navigation balance that out admirably.(less)
This is a tough one. I freely admit my one-star deduction isn't because of anything Cullen did; if anything, it's because he did it too well. His meti...moreThis is a tough one. I freely admit my one-star deduction isn't because of anything Cullen did; if anything, it's because he did it too well. His meticulous research shines through on every page, and he wields it deftly to craft an incredibly gripping story of the before, during, and after of the Columbine massacre. I hadn't realized how many of the myths I'd internalized as a high school freshman first hearing the news reports and reading the coverage that followed. Trench Coat Mafia? Targeting the jocks? Cassie Bernall's last words? Check, check, check.
However, as well-written as it may be, it's not a book I can recommend unilaterally. Cullen goes into very fine -- and, as a result, often graphic -- detail of both the shootings and the suicides of Klebold and Harris. If you're a person who's struggled with depression in the past, or are struggling with it now, it also goes into equal (and thus potentially triggery) detail about Klebold's suicidal ideations. Combined together, it becomes a very, very difficult read at times; if you have any uncertainties as to whether or not you're in a good mental place to tackle this subject, err on the side of caution and save it for another time. (Or just don't read it at all -- needless to say, that's a completely valid option.)
Ultimately, I think I'm glad I read it. I just won't be able to read it again any time soon.(less)