Kim's Reviews > The Echo Maker

The Echo Maker by Richard Powers
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's review
Dec 01, 2009

did not like it
bookshelves: book-club, could-not-finish
Read in November, 2009

I couldn't finish this slow, overly descriptive, not-at-all intriguing, boring novel. It was a book-club pick and only two people finished it, one kicking and screaming.

The book is about a man in his mid-20s who's in a car accident and spends two weeks in a coma. When he wakes up and begins his recovery, he accuses his sister – the two have always been very close – of being an impostor. It's a disorder called Capgras syndrome, and it's very rare.

The neuroscience and psychology in the book are fascinating. Imagine what it would be like to think the person or people you love the most have been replaced by replica robots, aliens or government agents. On the flip side, imagine if someone you love thought you were an impostor. That would right and royally suck.

And you know, the sister in the novel is pretty much a suck of a main character. Powers just dropped the ball on developing her beyond a whiny, scarred-from-childhood sot. He hints at why she's that way but he doesn't follows through (or maybe he does eventually, but I couldn't get there). So instead of finding her sympathetic, I eventually just wanted to punch her in the face.

Anyway. Lots of novels are about extraordinary people. This novel is about ordinary people in an extraordinary circumstance during which neither the characters nor the writing lives up.

I found the writing maddeningly self-indulgent. The prose simply isn't crafty, skilled or beautiful enough to warrant its quantity. The story concept is a good one, and the science is, as I said, fascinating. Unfortunately, the pacing just didn't do them justice.

Save 400 pages of your time for another book – it's almost certain to be more enjoyable.
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Reading Progress

11/16 page 97
21.6% "I want to punch the protagonist in the face. Other than that, this is ok. Slow, but ok so far."
03/24 marked as: read

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