Zoe's Reviews > Solar

Solar by Ian McEwan
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May 08, 10

did not like it
Read in April, 2010

** spoiler alert ** I really hate giving any book a one star review, much less one by a favorite author of mine. However there was simply nothing redeeming about this book for me.

I skipped large sections of it, and still kept reading in the hopes that the completely disgusting and unsympathetic main character might find some shred of redemption. But no, it never came. He just kept getting fatter, uglier, and more complacent -- which I realize is supposed to be an allegory for why human kind is in the environmental bind that it currently finds itself, but still. Did he have to make it quite so heavy handed?

The scene in which he gives a long scientific speech (replicated verbatim in the book, which I skimmed over) while trying not fight his nausea is one of the most terrible and disturbing scenes I've read in a long, long time. I read it on vacation, and the hotel we were staying in had smoked salmon on the breakfast buffet. I couldn't go anywhere near it after reading that scene.

My feelings for this book almost border on loathing. It still grosses me out, just thinking about the main character. I guess that means it's well written, to have such a strong effect -- but that's the best thing I can say about it.
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Jonathan Cribbs I don't see why a character must find redemption to be compelling. Also, I would take that allegory quite so far or as literally as you. This book is as much about the character as it is about the warming issue. Ultimately, I think McEwan is hopeful about society's capacity to solve the energy crisis and the warming issue. At the same time, I think he was compelled to put a despicable character at the story's center.


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