First, Don't read this book. Listen to it. The audio book was amazing and probably way better than reading it. It was like listening to a radio play.First, Don't read this book. Listen to it. The audio book was amazing and probably way better than reading it. It was like listening to a radio play. The acting (there's no other word for it) made the book riveting.
White male problems in a first world civilization? It's interesting that a lot of reviewers seem to think that Thomas had a perfect life without problems or challenges because he didn't live through, or even better die, in the Rwanda massacre. It's true that all over the world horrible things are happening, mostly to women. I just finished "Half the Sky" by Kristoff and WuDunn so poverty, lack of health care, rape as a weapon of war are definitely on my mind. There are the third world problems that afflict primarily the body and there are the first world problems that afflict primarily the soul. Neither should be dismissed.
I don't think the irritation and helplessness Thomas felt at a nameless, formless, non-enemy is something that only bothers men. I am a woman and have often had similar feelings. But the author is male and writing about what he knows, I presume.
It also isn't a white, male problem because likely the Chinese, the Saracens and the Indians in their long, extremely civilized and advanced histories have had similar problems with having too much too soon and too easily.
Being raised without a father and a mother who had substance abuse issues is not nothing. In fact we can see quite well the results of that lack of parenting: a spoiled, whining, perpetual adolescent demanding instant gratification with no idea how to work hard for something or how to take in stride inevitable disappointment. Thomas was a narcissist with delusions of grandeur. That is a problem. Depression and PTSD after being gang raped is also a problem.
I probably found most fascinating his conversations with his mother and felt those best revealed Thomas's true character and made him the least likeable.
At the beginning of the book you are willing to believe him when he says he's a moral man although you have doubts, but by the end you are sure he is anything but. Even though so many of the things that infuriated him were justified and he was right to be mad at the corruption and plain silliness of things like an armed man in a bullet proof vest surrounded by a dozen or more similarly armed men being afraid of a single man with a steak knife. Something is obviously wrong. You can't just shoot a man 17 times because he might do something bad in the unknown future.
Anyway I think the author hit the nail on the head in describing the malaise and apathy that afflicts this country. Starvation or obesity -- both will kill you. Both are at least in part caused by corruption and greed of the few. (I'm thinking of the new documentary Fed Up)....more
I had a time finishing this book because I was getting so bored and didn't know where we were headed. And where we ended up was definitely not what II had a time finishing this book because I was getting so bored and didn't know where we were headed. And where we ended up was definitely not what I expected. Part way the narration takes turns between Ava and her brother Kiwi. Not sure why the author even bothered with Kiwi, it felt like a separate book and she didn't tie it into Ava's story enough. I didn't like how the author was constantly comparing one thing to another thing, the rain was like, his teeth were like, the day was like, her feeling of fear was like . . . just say what it is sometimes or move on, quit it already with the "literariness." Trying too hard.
I can't make up my mind between two stars and three stars. I like that Russell shows us how a thirteen year old girl might get raped and murdered by a stranger by putting us in that thirteen year old girl's mind. Ava was young for her thirteen years -- she often felt more like a ten year old.
So many of the story elements were fantastic that I was willing to believe that we were really headed for the Under World and it was only an hour or two(several pages) before Ava did that I realized, "wait a minute in the real world if a weird guy shows up out of nowhere and takes a young girl away in a boat and tells her to lie to other adults then he is probably up to no good."
I definitely don't think this book was worthy of a Pulitzer prize nomination, But Karen is not a bad writer....more