Jen Ferreira's Reviews > Await Your Reply

Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon
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Feb 07, 12

bookshelves: fiction, reviewed

This book is slight. Very slight. The author starts out with an interesting idea (the plot revolves around a ring of identity theft criminals as well as a pair of twin brothers, one of whom is possibly insane and has mysteriously dissapeared).

But Chaon never moves beyond the idea. He seems to think that was all he needed, so he doesn't put any effort into writing an actual book with a real story and real people. The handful of characters are never fully developed and they interact with each other in ways that are very easy to predict. The central "mystery" is solved without any effort, to the point that the big reveal at the end feels a little pointless. Which is fine with me since I don't really care about being surprised--but since there was no story and no characters, and no surprise, the book itself kind of feels pointless.

The writing is often good and some parts of the story are clever. Yet, while the author tells a pretty huge and involved story, he only shares a tiny portion of it with the reader.

"Yeah, this guy bankrupted a company worth billions of dollars!" Oh really? That sounds interesting. What happened??? Chaon never says.

"A professor's life was ruined because of him." It was?? Tell me more... Nope, not getting any more details.

And so on and so forth. I mean, it's this whole dramatic plot that we hear in bits and pieces, always implied or alluded to. We are told about it in a few lines, rather than having it shown. It's just beyond silly... Especially since the character, when we actually see him, doesn't really seem all that capable of getting people disbarred and so on and so forth. Beyond being silly it was lazy. How much easier to import excitement like this, rather than actually creating it.

In the end, there is no real resolution. Or rather, I guess there is, but we don't really know what it is and we knew so little to begin with that we can't exactly guess. The elements for a really interesting and unique novel were present. But an interesting and unique novel is not what it became.
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