This book would have been great even without the time-travel and disease superspreader sub-plots. The character voices that tell the story are worth i...moreThis book would have been great even without the time-travel and disease superspreader sub-plots. The character voices that tell the story are worth it all on their own. I only gave it four stars because it gave me nightmares-- and this is from a hardened soul that regularly falls asleep reading The Exorcist or short stories by Guy de Maupassant without similar effects...(less)
I read this book as part of a class, otherwise I would have put it down within a few seconds of picking it up.
This book can cause permanent damage to...moreI read this book as part of a class, otherwise I would have put it down within a few seconds of picking it up.
This book can cause permanent damage to the psyche. I wish there were a rating for revulsion.
To be fair, that might have been the intent of this work-- to create a headspace that somehow begins to encompass the intense horror of war. Unfortunately, it is my opinion that the author meant to go beyond that into territory which obliterates the boundary of conscience. (Not consciousness, CONSCIENCE)-- ie, the visceral sense that something is revolting for the specific reason that it is inhumane.
Many people would argue that this is the very thing that makes this book successful-- that it reduces highly emotional content, through a constant, punctuationless assault on the senses, to the point of non-meaning. (The same way that if you repeat a word over and over and over to yourself, it begins to lose meaning.) These people would argue, that from a purely language-based perspective, great leaps of revelation are accomplished when an author can reveal language for what it is-- words and nothing more than words.
But that kind of argument fails to address the communicative and empathetic regions of writing. Words are not merely theory-- to reduce writing to that single aspect makes about as much sense as reducing the whole human being to a biochemical machine, or to say that a painting is simply dabs of color on a canvas. The effect is always at least one purpose of a work of art, and the effect of this book was highly traumatic and distressing to me. I am already numbed enough to violence by living in the contemporary world.
As for the idea presented to me in the class I read this book for, that the relentlessness of the disgust this book generates eventually leads to a kind of transcendence into beauty-- I never got there, nor do I want to.