Judy's Reviews > The White Mary: A Novel

The White Mary by Kira Salak
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bookshelves: adventure, fiction, new-guinea, 2012-reads
Recommended to Judy by: Chelsea
Recommended for: action/adventure lovers who aren't too squeamish

In the The White Mary: A Novel, Marika, a daring journalist, escapes to the uncivilized jungle of Papua New Guinea to find Robert Lewis, a famous journalist reported as dead. Marika's jungle travails mirror her personal life which is fraught with woes over the loss of the one man she truly loved, Seb, her carelessness with her own life, as well as her inability to commit to any relationship.

What I liked:
*Rumor has it, this book is based on Kira Salak's own life. This is believable,since, the description of the culture, traditions, hardships of Papua New Guinea, Congo are those of someone who knows first-hand.
*The book carries an emotional intensity along with the how-is-she-going-to-get-through-this intensity that every reader loves.
*Marika's background sets the stage for her crazy, but daring adventure into New Guinea. The background chapters alternate up to the point where she is fully immersed in the New Guinea jungle. The timing seems perfect.
*I felt I took every step, pulled off every leech and burned with every fever along with Marika.

What I didn't like:
*The present-tense writing. Although, I have to admit I could almost forget about it because the action and emotions were that intense.
*Probably, because of her journalistic background, Salak tells more than shows. However, once again, the action and emotions are intense enough to forgive this.

3.5 stars and without the 2 "What I didn't like's"; it would be pushing 5 star.
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Reading Progress

July 1, 2011 – Shelved
February 3, 2012 – Started Reading
February 3, 2012 –
0.0% "Buddy read with Sonya."
February 4, 2012 –
41.0%
February 4, 2012 –
page 41
11.14%
February 6, 2012 –
page 124
33.7%
February 15, 2012 –
page 194
52.72%
February 15, 2012 –
page 294
79.89%
February 15, 2012 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-13 of 13 (13 new)

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Sonya Got my copy last night! Should be getting started tonight....


Judy Yea! I look forward to reading with you, Sonya. I will be getting started this afternoon.


Sonya I'm going out of town this weekend but should still get some reading time in. I will probably get to start late tonight. I'm excited...this is my first buddy read on Goodreads :)


Judy Congrats! on the first buddy read. I hope it will be the first of many. :-)


Sonya Judy....check out the author's website. Pretty interesting lady. I just got started & I already feel sticky hot & like I've been bit by a million mosquitos :)


Judy Know what you mean! I only am two chapters in, much below my ambitions, but am enjoying it. An e-net (for the mosquitoes) is coming your way! haha

I will check out the author's website. I heard the book is semi-autobiographical.

How far did you get?
What did you think of her trusting the witch doctor?
What role do you think Seb is going to play in the story?
Is this the first book you have read about New Guinea?


Sonya I'm with friends this weekend so only doing minute by minute reading but she's just been left by Thomas with Tobo in that part of the story and I'm at cafe on her date with Seb.

I'm not so sure about this witch doctor?! I certainly wouldn't trust him, with the "blood tasting" he's doing! I think Seb is not going to play as big a role as one would think...but I could be wrong. After viewing her website I can see where it is somewhat autobiographical.

This is the first book I've read about New Guinea and must admit I really don't know anything about it. So, I'm going to use this opportunity to do a cliff notes version of research on the country.

What do you think of her writing style? I think her writing style reveals that she's a journalist. It sort of took me a little bit to adjust to it. It just seems to be very "I'm going to tell you about ____ instead of showing you" It may just be me...


Judy We're pretty much at the same place, Sonya.:-)

I like the fast pace of the looking for the journalist part. Like you, I don't see how Seb is going to fit in and am wondering what his role is in the book. Nothing is taking me by surprise at this point as far as New Guinea culture, but that is only because I've read about it before.

Its not just you about the writing. I never noticed the tell vs. show until you mentioned it. I haven't fully adjusted to the present tense style of writing myself. I've never liked it and so many newer books are written that way. (This may be my age speaking here. :-)If this weren't about a country I loved and if the story itself wasn't interesting, I might shelve it out of annoyance with the writing.

Don't worry about keeping up or getting ahead. Just read what you normally would. I have a busy day today and probably won't pick it up until tonight.


Sonya How's your reading going? I have to admit this book isn't impressing me as much as I thought it was going to :)


message 10: by Judy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy I had to push it aside because I'm in the middle of moderating a Toppler for You'll Love This One.

I thought I would like it more than I have, but I will definitely finish it because of the New Guinea adventure aspect. Sonya, if you want to read something else do not feel obligated to read this with me. There's not much worse reading-wise than reading something you don't enjoy due to obligation.:-)

If you want to continue, I'd love to finish discussing it with you. What chapter are you on?


Sonya No I definitely want to read it because the story line is very interesting & I want to read about New Guinea. I think I'm just having a hard tine adjusting to her writing honestly. I'm at work so I don't remember the chapter but she is Congo & I'm a little nervous that she's about to be in trouble :) It will probably be a slow reading week for me but I'm going to try to catch up this weekend.


message 12: by Judy (last edited Feb 08, 2012 07:44AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Judy That works well for me, too, Sonya, with the TBR Toppler going on. I know what chapter you are talking about; it does get intense. I don't like the use of present tense to tell the story. You are correct about doing more telling than showing in her description. I think her non-fiction book, Four Corners: A Journey into the Heart of Papua New Guinea probably is written better because it would be more conducive to her journalistic style of writing.
How about we discuss what we've read on Monday?


Sonya Sounds good! I'll chat with you Monday...


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