Jamal's Reviews > The Eight

The Eight by Katherine Neville
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's review
Jul 16, 2008

it was ok

Three weeks ago I held a yard sale. To pass the time I picked up this book I'd never seen from a box of books none of which I'd ever read and none of which I remember buying.

Of the many surreal happenings of that day one of the most strange was when, immediately after reading the first page, a well-groomed homeless man or a poorly groomed homed man rode past on a bike. He looked over and upon seeing The Eight lurched off his bike stumbled to my gate and, grasping it with all the force and desperation of a kindergartener being left by mommy, bellowed, "That book! Man! That book, man, is the biggest fucking mind trip it's the best book you'll ever read. That woman [the author] used to be an executive at Bank of America until those Southern fuckers came in and they fired EVERY woman in the company. God damn mother fuckers! But man, she's beautiful too man, like a triple threat. And let tell you something..." and here he became quiet and conspiratorial, "....it'll never NEVER be made into a movie. I won't tell you why. 2/3 into the book BAM! [he yelled] it's a fucking bomb on your brain! She just fucking drops that bomb on your brain and it'll NEVER be a fucking movie!"

How could I do anything but read this book after such an endorsement?

It's pretty typical of the genre. A collection of mostly tropes -- the mysterious and reclusive genius somehow at the heart of the mystery; the one no-one including his co-commiserators can trust has a hidden agenda that has to do directly with the heroine? No way! After he takes a personal interest in her, we find out he's tall, handsome, devilishly charismatic, seductive and, wait, can't be completely trusted? Didn't see that one coming! -- including the drunken socialite, the clueless petty bourgeoisie, the quirky but lovable math/ computer whiz, the evil and menacing foreign intelligence agent, the surprisingly Western and enlightened foreign man incredibly open, and the revelation that the Other is actually more welcoming than We...to name a few. Anyway, this collection are interwoven into a story that touches on Charlemagne, OPEC, Chess, the French Revolution and the rise of Napoleon among other things and which is mostly entertaining if much too long.

The double narrative serves an obvious purpose but makes the book cumbersome and unnecessarily obtuse. When one story line enthralls, Neville switches to the other forcing the reader to reinvest; a tiring exercise. It's an unfortunate thing really, because both narratives on their own are interesting and could have been fun, if forgettable adventure books on their own. Should have been. Very much should have been.

2/3 of the way through, the heroines of both narratives go to Algeria and meet tall, dark, handsome and capable men who save them from vile agents of the bad guys. There's also an Erich Von Daniken moment which is probably what the lurcher was talking about. It was a mind bomb about as much as the turn in the new Indiana Jones movie.

I am ambivalent about this book. I'd be more enthusiastic if it had been about one story or even one more so than the other.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
July 16, 2008 – Shelved

Comments (showing 1-11 of 11) (11 new)

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M— Awesome review!

Missy You made my day. I am laughing so hard my eyes are wateriing. don't you just love folks who really get into their books. It is really quite wonderful. But I agree with your review "I am ambivalent about this book. I'd be more enthusiastic if it had been about one story or even one more so than the other"

Gabriella Gaita I like this book - but I loved your review! Funny and, actually, very accurate. I still love this puzzle of interwoven stories-- and yes! I also hated the last Indiana Jones - Von Daniken moment !! Lol!!

message 4: by Pamela (new)

Pamela interesting enjoyed reading your review, especially the part about the homeless man or badly groomed neighbor grabbing the gate when he saw the book and giving you his verbal review.

Dawn Morales Thanks for that amazing review, I was cracking up the whole time. Best ever. I also loved the book

Elizabeth I love love love this book. Have lent and recommended it to many friends and friends in the movie industry. Everyone was obsessed reading it and loved it. Your review was entertaining

message 7: by Kathy (new)

Kathy Maxwell My absolute FAVORITE book! Have read 5x. Intend to read again & again.

Drayne Great review.

Julie Richman One of my personal favorites ... need to make time for a re-read.

CrinklyGnome007 I read the book a couple of weeks ago and I was floored.Angels and Demons/DaVinci code pales in comparison.I might have to read it again as there were large tracts I wasn't able to understand.Nevertheless after a long time I read a book which I can call "Unputdownable"

message 11: by Mona (new) - rated it 3 stars

Mona Hilarious review, Jamal. I agree, the book fails to live up to its promise.

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