a) Overly complicated structure. Officially it's poison by poison but unofficially she hits on multiple toxinsI think Blum works against herself with:
a) Overly complicated structure. Officially it's poison by poison but unofficially she hits on multiple toxins in each chapter, rendering this conceit moot.
b) Not enough awesome crime stories and how they were detected. This is not to say that there are no awesome crime stories to be found but you can tell she only put them in there to get to the parts that interest her, which are detailed descriptions of how the poisons work on the human body and the tests used to detect them. These are interesting, but not really in an edge of your seat way. As for the solving side of things that usually starts with a heck of a lot of dogs and cats being killed. Which gets old, you know?
c) Someone else in the comments section pointed out that you never get a sense of Norris and Gettler really, just their outlines. Giving us more biographical material would have been pleasant.
e) The additional materials were the most ridiculous collection of junk. You have a final chapter. You have an epilogue which tells you how Norris and Gettler died. Since you never get a feel for them this is basically filler. You get an Author's Statement (indulgent, egotistical, save it for the NPR interviews). You get a Thanks section (your parents, your spouse, your kids, your dog - pick one). Then you get a book club q&a section. All of this is pointless. The only two things that should have gone at the end of this book are the index and the bibliography. My only explanation is that she wrote the absolutely wrong number of pages so they had to fill them up with this stuff.
f) Which would make sense since this books design is a bit of a hot mess. I think they use 3 or 4 distinct fonts throughout the thing, the cover is ugly as sin and the typeface there is something you'd expect to see on a YA book about magic circus folk, and (and I KNOW this sounds lame) but there are no pictures. I'm sorry but I like seeing what people and places look like. Also, there's one photo of a woman in the process of being electrocuted that was published on the FRONT PAGE of the Post (I think it was the Post...) that I want to see simply as proof it exists. ...more
It does a couple of interesting things, but ultimately its a fairly boring read. Still, it was better then I thought it was going to be. And it reallyIt does a couple of interesting things, but ultimately its a fairly boring read. Still, it was better then I thought it was going to be. And it really has the silliest/twee title ever. ...more
My dissatisfaction with this book, I'm sure, is one of those it's-not-you-it's-me deals, mainly stemming from my almost instant exhaustion with the whMy dissatisfaction with this book, I'm sure, is one of those it's-not-you-it's-me deals, mainly stemming from my almost instant exhaustion with the whole Tourettes thing, and the fact that once he gave the lead character Tourettes Lethem seemed to think that a disease would suffice in place of a personality.
Now that I think of it though, of Lethem's books I've only loved Fortress of Solitude, and I really disliked the others. This was because his characters felt very constructed, not like humans actually are (which is saying a lot because there are many many ways for humans to be)....more
**spoiler alert** The farther away I get from having read this book the less fondly I remember it. The reason for this is that it's one of those books**spoiler alert** The farther away I get from having read this book the less fondly I remember it. The reason for this is that it's one of those books where the antagonists get punished, for being selfish and oblivious in the case of the main guy (although, oddly we're let into the cause of his selfishness, how he saw it, and its really terribly sad in the way that the protagonists plight in the novel isn't), or for lying about ability and wanting sex while guilty of being old in the case of a secondary female character (okay, that's slightly glib, but there is that undercurrent of 'ew how gross' associated with her age, which, by the way, isn't even that old. She's in her 40s). So there's all this punishment doled out at the end, but really I found the protagonist had just as much to account for as any of the 'bad guys' and we're told (deliberate word choice there) how he's redeemed and reborn through his experiences in the novel (we're also told how special and great he is by the precocious little girl character. Vomit. That character should be outlawed).
The thing is he's a jerk. A terrible jerk who's completely self centered, a navel gazer to the millionth power who I found so awful that I actually began to feel really sorry for the female lead that she was not only turning to glass, but turning to glass and stuck with this guy. And part of the book is that his terrible past has made him a navel gazing creep, but his past doesn't come across as that terribly awful. Basically his father didn't hug him enough (okay, glib again, but sort of true), AND WHATS WORSE is that he actively denies his father the redemption that's given to him.
Even at the very end, where he's left the island and is in this world of tropical color, having conquered his fears in order to live life like Ida did, he is only doing so in order to find a new and deeper means of retreat from the world. In the end he really hasn't changed at all, and the suffering of poor Ida just proves to have been pointless.
The more I think of it though, maybe this book isn't about redemption but about arbitrary unfairness of the universe, where some get their last words and others don't but everyone dies or disappears anyway and most of our opportunities will be missed ones. In which case it's a better book but still gets two stars because that's just horrifically nasty way of going about things....more
Not enough material for a book and it reads like the magazine article it was (not that that's necessarily a bad thing per say, but for some reason I pNot enough material for a book and it reads like the magazine article it was (not that that's necessarily a bad thing per say, but for some reason I picked up on the fact that it was a magazine article before it was anything else).
What's more, the author does this incredibly odd thing of inserting herself into the narrative ever ever so slightly (and maybe this is the "magaziney" thing I was picking up on?). Specifically she'll cite an interview she conducted and write something like: "Blah blah blah' Nancy Regan responded to my question" or "La de dah war crimes' Henry Kissinger said when I asked him." Those scenarios are the only time the first person creeps into the book, but it's such an odd choice and so consistently done that it becomes one of those authorial quirks that you keep looking for, that really jump out. Of course, when you find yourself looking for quirks rather then caught up in the book itself that's pretty much the main sign that something has not worked out as intended, isn't it?
Also: Henry Kissinger comes off as a huge gossip in this thing, which is faintly hysterical and which I enjoyed....more
The fact that the choice was made to write/ghostwrite the book in a heavy Southern voice, so that you could read it aloud and automatically achieve anThe fact that the choice was made to write/ghostwrite the book in a heavy Southern voice, so that you could read it aloud and automatically achieve an accent, started out as somewhat interesting and eventually devolved into a kind of literary Chinese water torture, each y'all ever more painful. ...more
Would have gotten more stars and initially did, but the titular characters were so much more types then people that I've reduced it by a factor of oneWould have gotten more stars and initially did, but the titular characters were so much more types then people that I've reduced it by a factor of one, possibly to be re-upped once I think about why they were so empty, what purpose it serves. ...more
Obviously rather brilliant but not especially pleasurable to read. The author hobbles the book by including these poorly placed breaks from the narratObviously rather brilliant but not especially pleasurable to read. The author hobbles the book by including these poorly placed breaks from the narrative to educate (I guess?) the reader on the whole history of what was going on in England at the time. These are not especially enjoyable, not especially revealing, and as purely educational sections not especially enlightening. For example, I know about how the Fabian society met and splintered and who was president when, but I'm not actually terribly sure what a Fabian believes in specifically (Wikipedia here I come!).
When dealing with someone as obviously good at writing as Byatt is, I try to give the benefit of the doubt as to why they might do something like this, but I am simply left clueless.
Still, the characters are wonderful, as are Olive's stories, and I very much enjoyed reading the parts of the novel they inhabited. ...more
So having gone on vacation again it was time for me to pick another thriller to read. Now, in rating said thriller, The Vanished Man, I realized thatSo having gone on vacation again it was time for me to pick another thriller to read. Now, in rating said thriller, The Vanished Man, I realized that at Goodreads 5 stars means you found a book to be "amazing". While this book pales in comparison to my last vacation thriller, staring the super genius albino plays by his own rules detective of The Cabinet of Curiosities, obviously the most amazing book possibly ever, this one stars a quadriplegic super genius cranky forensic scientist and his ex-model flame haired fast driving genius but not as much as the guy policewoman sidekick girlfriend. You have to admit that's pretty amazing.
It doesn't stop there though, cause things get even amazinger when you realize that in this book those two come together to fight AN EVIL MAGICIAN (Note: He's a pull rabbits from a hat magician, not a "I conjure dragons!" magician). WHO IS OUT FOR REVENGE! ALSO HE"S A GENIUS TOO! MOSTLY AT EVIL MAGIC TRICKS!
There are also white supremacist militia men involved.