Ed's Reviews > Gold

Gold by Chris Cleave
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's review
Jul 12, 12

it was ok
bookshelves: 2-stars, 2012, read-on-kindle, amazon-best-book-of-the-month
Read from July 04 to 11, 2012

Right up-front I will disclose that I was not the biggest fan of Chris Cleave's break-out second novel, Little Bee. While I thought it was quite good, there was just something about it that nagged at me and ultimately I felt believability/credibility were stretched too far. I was excited to give Cleave another chance, particularly given the Olympic back-drop (I am a huge fan of the Games) of this book, but I think Cleave is just one of those authors I am not going to jive with. I found Gold to be a significant drop-off from Little Bee, devolving into Lifetime movie material.

While I could not quite put my finger at times at what nagged at me with Little Bee, I found myself not being able to keep up with my mental list of things that nagged at me about Gold. I can not discuss many/most of them without spoiling, but, in general, I had a total lack of understanding of the motivations behind the actions and life decisions these characters make, let alone the seemingly blasé way they stay in each others lives despite some significant sh&t... most of which, quite conveniently, seem to reach a head every four years.

Like Little Bee, the characters here have deep secrets. But unlike that novel, the characters here are nationally-known figures/sports stars. In this era and particularly with the wolf-like British press (let alone in light of the whole Murdoch scandal), there just seems to be absolutely no way such things could remain private/hidden. Heck, even things would be innocently dug up for those inspirational "up close and personal" pre-event Olympian/athlete back-stories.

Lastly, I personally struggle with children in literature (I was not a fan of Room, which may also sway whether you should personally discount this review any further). Here we have a quite like-able character, but I just found her illness (revealed quite early in the book, not spoiling!) to be a plot device to create (melo-)drama time and time again and, as noted above, on a very convenient schedule. Additionally, I found her internal monologues too wise beyond her years (just a guess, as I have no child-rearing experience, personal or peripheral) and the whole Star Wars obsession more age-appropriate for Cleave vs. a girl born circa 2004.

On the positive side, it was a quick read, entertaining, and Cleave often turns phrases and has observations that had me nodding "well done." I know negative reviews often make me no longer want to read a book and I really hate to discourage anyone here (plus, as of this writing, I am very much in the minority!), so if you are interested - read it! Heck, part of what I liked about this book - and the main reason you'll likely never see a 1-star review from me - is flexing that cranial criticism muscle. It's always a good thing when a book gets you thinking, even if it may not be in ways the author ever intended. Final verdict: Gold does not even get a bronze from me.


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