Emily's Reviews > The War of the Flowers

The War of the Flowers by Tad Williams
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's review
Jul 17, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: read-in-2011
Read from June 24 to July 14, 2011

For me, the best part of this book was the cleverness of the story. While it dragged a bit in the middle for me, the last quarter or so of the book went by very quickly as loose ends tied themselves together and plot twists I didn't really expect were pleasantly presented. The way everything came together at the end is what brought this book from a 3-star up to a 4-star for me.

I found the main character, Theo, to be quite lacking. He is a 30-something lost soul, supposedly with a life's passion for music and no other discernible talents or ambitions. Yet it seems that the author doesn't really know anything about music or musicians to make this feel real. I never really bought that he was actually in love with music. He sounded like that guy who likes to fiddle around with a guitar sometimes and close his eyes listening to Pink Floyd thinking "Man, this is like, totally MUSIC man". For someone who is so bound by music, Theo never really thinks about it that much... and it sounds completely fake coming from him when it does come up. And, given that he has really no other personality, he tended to annoy me with his colloquialisms and lack of knowledge about anything. Even his "revelations" about himself that he eventually has (as all main characters do, or should I guess) feel surface level at best, like the first buds of thoughts that teenagers have when they write emo poems about death and life and think they are complicated souls for broaching the subject.

One thing also stood out to me about Tad Williams' writing style -- his extreme reliance on similes. To an insane degree. I think that there may have been one page that had 15 similes on it. You will be hard pressed to find actual descriptions of things in the book. Instead of describing anything, he turns it into a simile. It felt like he made a few clever similes and then thought "hey, this is clever I should keep doing this" and then used it as a literary crutch whenever any description of anything came up. At one point, as Theo is driving along a road, he sees a deer crossing sign. And of course, Williams cannot resist turning it into a simile (as if we need a description of a deer crossing sign), by saying it was a deer blazoned onto a yellow background "like a medieval crest". Don't get me wrong, some of the similes were quite good and clever and described the images very well. But this device was so overused in the book that I would, even if only momentarily, be taken out of the story when I'd read like 4 similes in a row because they became so painfully obvious and almost became a joke. How many similes will there be on this page?? Let's find out!

Now, the simile crutch really wasn't that big of a deal, not enough for me to dislike the book at all -- even if the length of what I just wrote made it seem like Mr. Williams annoyed or even angered me with his writing tic. It was just something I noticed and wonder if anyone else noticed, or if I'm just a critical jerk.

So for me, it's a 3-star book most of the way through, until the last quarter where it picks up and becomes a 4-star book. It's not without fault, but who or what is anyway?

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06/25/2011 page 26
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