SKB's Reviews > Special Topics in Calamity Physics

Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl
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's review
Mar 22, 2007

it was ok
Read in March, 2007

Her writing style was infuriating to me--so smug, as though she felt just so very clever for coming up with all those similes. I should have made a drinking game out of reading this book, because if I'd had a sip of liquor every time she used an outlandish simile that was totally off the mark, I'd be too drunk to type now. Now, some of her similes were extremely clever and spot-on--but maybe 2/3 of them were eye-roll inducing. Also, she had an annoying tendency to assign action verbs to inanimate objects in order to make the writing "snap" on the page. It felt very much like an affect. Then again, Sinclair Lewis once described a windowsill as "lugubrious." But then again, I don't really care for Sinclair Lewis either.

The characters were all just so unlikable as well--I don't think all book characters have to be saintly, but there should be at least one person you find likable. Oh, wait, there is one extremely secondary character who has some redeeming features.

The book could have been about 400 pages shorter (I was reading the large-print edition--which was just over 900 pages). She really needed a better editor.

The only thing that kept me reading was the plot, trying to find out, first of all, if it were going to GO anywhere (the novel started painfully slowly). Then, once the big tragic events unfolded, I read to find out what happened. Was the payoff worth it? Not really, not for me.

Bottom line: the book is clever, but not as clever as it thinks it is.
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Reading Progress

04/29/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by nina (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:10AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

nina i completely agree that the author seems smug in the metaphors she came up with. and it's funny because i felt it could have been made into a drinking game as well. you are right about the editing as well. i wish my own review had been this spot-on!

message 2: by MRC (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:59AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

MRC the author also reuses some of her images. despite some fresh simile and metaphor, reapplication 80 pages later of the same imagery is annoying.

example: 'buttery' the air was buttery, a voice, someone's face, etc.

message 3: by SKB (new) - rated it 2 stars

SKB Butter is delicious. The butter was buttery.

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