John's Reviews > Next

Next by James Hynes
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Jul 30, 11

Read from July 26 to 29, 2011

I was torn between 3 stars and 4 but rounded up. This book features a huge, deus ex machina type plot twist. It feels like the ending was written first and then a 250-page novel was written as a prelude. The unique structure makes this novel difficult to judge as a whole. The ending is well-written and powerfully moving, even though the ideas are pretty cliched and sentimental (love and commitment is what really matters in the end--how original). And the rest of the book leading up to that ending has a lot of well-observed, funny, and entertaining writing. However, some of it feels like filler, and judiciously cutting about 80 pages would have tightened and improve the novel. Although many if not most of the pop cultural references were right on and witty, some of them were clunkers that made me wonder about the author's taste and judgment. For instance, it didn't ring true to me that a guy who was so snobby about Starbucks and Whole Foods ("Gaia") would brag about seeing U2 before they were famous, or that people would eat a lunch consisting of a single taco at a divey Mexican restaurant. So I would say the wittily observed, pop-culture savvy, stream-of-consciousness writing that made up the majority of the book wasn't quite up to the level of, say, Nicholson Baker, but still pretty good.
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