Melissa's Reviews > Snow Falling on Cedars

Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson
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's review
Mar 11, 2012

did not like it
bookshelves: 2012, library-book, library-book-club, historical
Read from March 05 to 12, 2012

I intended to give this book two stars, but hovering over the options, 'didn't like it' is really the most apt. I read this for my reading group, and unfortunately it turned out to be one of those rare books so deeply dull that I begrudge the time spent on it. It doesn't help matters that I've read a few of Michael Connelly's Mickey Haller novels alongside it - far less detailed prose, but oh the pace. This book is just so languid and dull. Guterson describes everything in so much painful depth that for every line of dialogue, there must be at least ten pages of description. I have an imagination. I am capable of using it. I do not need to be told over and over and over again what a snow storm is like, how the surroundings look at every waking moment.

The pinnacle of my frustration was probably when Ishmael, one of the lead characters, drove across the island in a storm. Guterson could have said 'Ishmael drove to his mother's house' and saved me from wanting to throw this book against a wall and stomp on it, but instead, he had to tell us about the car's tires, its engine, where and when Ishmael's father had purchased it, all the scenery he saw along his drive... AGH.

When he actually got on with telling the story, it was okay. The effect of the war, the racial tension - there were sparks of something decent there, and at times his never-ending backstory did seem as though it was enriching things temporarily. The court procedures and whodunnit element were far from compelling, and the callbacks to the characters' previous romantic entanglements left me mostly cold the more they progressed. It also got weirdly sexual for a while in the middle there - best encapsulated in the scene which begins with the defence attorney talking to the widow on the stand, and pauses to discuss said attorney's inability to maintain an erection. Just... what? Why? No.

I appreciate that for those less impatient with descriptive writing, this could potentially be an enjoyable read, but I couldn't in good conscience recommend it to anyone.

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Reading Progress

03/05/2012 page 99
23.0% "This really isn't for me. For every line of dialogue, there are around 10 pages of scenery description and the tortuous pace is killing me."
03/07/2012 page 236
55.0% "Liking this more now I'm a good way into it, but I could still do without the endless scenery description. I have an imagination, let me use it."
03/09/2012 page 296
69.0% "Duuull. This book is SO overwritten."
03/10/2012 page 340
79.0% "I read more than I intended to today, which could be taken as a good sign, but then again I spent a good portion of that willing it to just end."

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