Sara's Reviews > Lost on Planet China: The Strange and True Story of One Man's Attempt to Understand the World's Most Mystifying Nation, or How He Became Comfortable Eating Live Squid

Lost on Planet China by J. Maarten Troost
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's review
Apr 27, 2009

it was ok
bookshelves: 2009, did-not-finish, non-fiction, travelogues
Read in April, 2009

This wasn't a bad book, per se, it's just that it wasn't a good. book. I was intrigued by the book description: a man goes to China and records some of his observations about the vast differences between China and America. Supposedly, too, he's an amusing writer; having never read any of his other books, I can't say that for sure myself. I looked forward to reading about the author's strange times in China.

Unfortunately, I couldn't even finish the book. I got a little under halfway through before deciding to set it aside because I was already skimming. The problem, for me, was that there were way too many diatribes and long history lessons (all told from the author's slanted - and not-so-funny - point of view) that really detracted from he actual story. I enjoyed some of the stories; for example, I liked the authors description of how he probably got ripped off when he bought a ticket and was told not to tell anyone the amount he paid because everyone else overpaid. And there was some amusing exchanges with Chinese people he meets, such as a woman who declares he must be rich because he drives a VW back home in California. But too much of the writing seemed to be trying too hard for humor, and you can't force humor without making it completely unfunny, which was the case here. Also, I thought the book could have used a lot more editing; it seemed like the part I read could have been condensed into half the amount of pages and been the better for it. If history lessons are not immediately relevant to the story at hand, why include them? Furthermore, I never really understood why the author decided to go to China anyway, which made the whole story seem forced and inauthentic.

I give it two stars because there were a few amusing moments, but this is not a book I'd recommend to others.

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