A.M.'s Reviews > Special Topics in Calamity Physics

Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl
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's review
Sep 30, 09

bookshelves: fiction, mystery-suspense
Recommended for: literary fiction lovers
Read in October, 2009

I've only started reading this, but these are my thoughts so far:

The blurb is a little misleading: I was expecting a thriller, an addictive page-turner which keeps you hungering for more. The plot is, after all, a pretty run of the mill murder-mystery.

But the style of this novel is entirely different from what I expected: it's written more as an essay or exposé, replete with visual aids and a table of contents.

Yes, this style suits the protagonist, who is very intellient and scholarly, but it keeps the reader from fully sinking into the setting. I felt like I was experiencing the story at arm's length, as a casual observer.

It doesn't help that the writing is often gimmicky, using overly complicated similes and metaphors. This is the kind of novel where every word has been thought about carefully: there is little sense of 'rush' and enjoyment of the plot, and it reads more like the protagonist's (organized) ramblings than anything else.

But I'll admit there are moments of oddly beautiful writing, moments when it seems Pessl forgot about needing to sound intelligent and just wrote the story.

*Edit - I got bored and haven't finished it. May pick it up again later.*
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Reading Progress

09/10/2009 page 55
10.7% "All the characters speak exactly the same way so far. Some diversity would be good."

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