McKenzie's Reviews > The Instructions

The Instructions by Adam Levin
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Nov 12, 2010

it was amazing
Read from November 12 to 23, 2010

Wow. This is the kind of book that I'll have to think about for days in order to figure out what I really think. It was truly a reading experience. Levin's writing is astonishing, the characters--though implausible--are intriguing, and the plot of this gargantuan novel is something that I don't think I'll ever forget. The descent from Tuesday to Friday, from locker room fights to the Gurionic War, at times terrified me because Levin wrote in such a way that the increasingly violent actions seem justified. This book is so much more than a story about a 10 year old Israelite boy who might be the Messiah--it's a comment on terrorism, religion/faith, the power of the written word, our failing education system, and human decency. It ranges from funny to inspiring to horrifying. When I first started reading, it reminded me of A Clockwork Orange, and though I then dismissed the comparison in the middle of the novel, having finished I think it's somewhat accurate. I would recommend this book for people who love reading to expose themselves to new ideas and realities--even if the subject doesn't interest you, if you want something to really think about, read this.

Possibly my favorite passage (not a spoiler in any way): "The baldness of Both was the kind where the hair that remains rims the head like the seat on a public toilet. As did pretty much every other man in the world who'd balded similar while being a scmendrick, Botha grew the upper part of one side long and greased its strands flat across his sticky-looking pate. I still have a hard time understanding why men do that. Forgetting that the hairstyle doesn't fool anyone, ignoring that it highlights what it's meant to hide, the hairstyle's name - combover - is in the same class of words as unibrow and needlenose and muffintop and trampstamp, i.e., not only does the name mock the thing it refers to, but it's the only name there is for the thing it refers to. So any speaker of English old enough to sport a combover has to be aware of what it is called, and thereby aware that electing to do what he does each morning in front of his mirror invites disdain." (95)
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07/28/2016 marked as: read

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