Jessica's Reviews > The Collective

The Collective by Don  Lee
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's review
Jul 25, 2012

liked it
Read from September 16 to 18, 2012

I love the idea behind The Collective - the lives of contemporary Asian American young people is something you don't see filling up the best-seller lists and I found it really interesting. The story really ensnared me at the beginning, but throughout the book I just couldn't get past the tin-eared dialogue and unsupported plot turns. Don Lee, unfortunately, seemed in this book at least to be of the school of "Tell, don't show." In the final chapter, Lee's narrator outright tells readers who his friend Joshua is, describing his personality as if we hadn't just spent hundreds of pages hopefully understanding him ourselves.

***MILD SPOILER: The city politician who ruins the art show of one member of the collective turned out to be one of the best-written characters in the novel, the only one whose complex life was so well-described in a few paragraphs I felt like I knew him, even though he was only in a small section of the book. If Lee had been able to show that level of insight and power of description with his other characters, I would have loved this book.

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