Ken-ichi's Reviews > Swamplandia!

Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
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's review
Mar 07, 2013

it was ok
bookshelves: xmas2011, snoot
Read from June 09 to July 03, 2012

Following a brief, somewhat endearing exposition on the quirky Bigtree family and their gator-wrasslin' ways, this book descends into what, to me, felt like two conventional, uninteresting novels: Kiwi's farcical exploration of suburban teenage degeneracy (aka did you know people are uneducated and low-paying jobs crush souls?), and Ava's magical-realist-cum-whimsical-sexual-predation tale of swamp exploration. Nostalgia for the family life outlined at the start drives the two stories, but the nostalgia never felt earned. The Bigtrees were cool, I guess, but I wasn't in love with them, and Ava and Kiwi by themselves failed to exceed the tropes into which Russell dropped them. I suppose she was shooting for the five-minutes-of-the-sublime-intro-followed-by-60-minutes-of-whatever-exactly-happened-in-Up model (there was a talking dog, right?), but didn't pull it off. Kiwi's an out-of-place nerd. Ava's a dreamer in denial. I guess it was amusing enough for me to finish, but that was mostly due to a misplaced hope in a better next page.

How about this: instead of reading Swamplandia!, just watch that first segment of Up, then start reading The Lovely Bones while you have Idiocracy and Rescue Rangers playing on two separate monitors. I haven't even read The Lovely Bones but I have to believe it's more compelling than Osceola's dead guy crush and Ava's bewildering self-delusion about creepy old dudes in dirty black overcoats. Crime-solving rodents: now THAT's what discerning readers crave.
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Reading Progress

06/14/2012 page 79
20.0% "Decent so far."
06/29/2012 page 225
57.0% "Pretty bored with this book, but I keep thinking it's just about to get interesting. Magical realist swamp + theme park wasteland isn't doing it for me."

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