Caitlin Constantine's Reviews > Atonement

Atonement by Ian McEwan
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Mar 03, 09

really liked it
Read in February, 2009

First, a warning. Don't see the movie before you read the book. I did and it was a huge mistake.

Now, the actual review. I was of a mixed mind about this book. On one hand, McEwan writes some amazing prose. It's dense and thoughtful and very beautiful. But at the same time, you kind of want him to just get on with the story already. That isn't really fair, I know, because while there is a plot, the majority of the writing serves as an exploration of storytelling and deception - both of the self and of others - and those are topics that cannot be examined without looking at the mind and the way it analyzes the world around it. As a result, the book reads at time like a psychological treatise.

Oh, and I spent much of the book wanting to kill Briony.

As for the story itself, I thought it was heart-breaking, with such a horribly depressing ending that I felt like taking to the bathtub with a straight razor and just ending it all right then once I was done. (Obviously I didn't, it was just a passing impulse.) I tend to gravitate towards writing and art that makes me feel happy and hopeful because I tend to find the world so bleak as it is and I'm not really interested in reinforcing that, and so this was a change. I welcomed it, though, because one should never be afraid to step outside their comfort zone, especially when it comes to art.

I recommend this for people who like novels, who enjoy beautiful prose, and who don't mind getting blisteringly angry with the protagonist or feeling suicidal at the end of the story.
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Abram I saw the movie long after I read the book. I'm glad I read the book 1st.

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