nostalgebraist's Reviews > The Instructions

The Instructions by Adam Levin
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it was amazing
bookshelves: modern-lit, favorites, unreliable-narrators-yesss
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I've been wanting to review this for a while, but I feel like anything I would write would just be the verbal equivalent of those five stars up there, plus a exhortation to keep reading even if the narrator's voice and the pimply middle school stuff put you off.

I've realized, though, that what I really want to do is write a retrospective analysis of the book. This will require spoilers. I know that there's this notion out there that if a book is sufficiently good or literary or whatever, spoilers don't matter, but that's BS. A good author will arrange every aspect of the reader's experience with care, and that includes the way in which plot details come to light. So, here's a warning: the spoiler cut below is for real -- if you haven't read the book and plan to, don't click it.

(view spoiler)
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
Finished Reading
March 13, 2012 – Shelved
September 28, 2012 – Shelved as: modern-lit
February 6, 2013 – Shelved as: favorites
February 24, 2013 – Shelved as: unreliable-narrators-yesss

Comments Showing 1-15 of 15 (15 new)

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Nathan "N.R." Gaddis Thanks Rob. I don't know if I'm delaying the reading of your review due to its length today or because I might take your disagreement with me regarding spoilers quite seriously and as I intend to read this soon and since you believe it is spoilerable I shall delay for that reason too? But there be indicators here that it ought be Like'd and so I have and will again when I return to it. thnks thnks. And endorsements of this review by other readers of the instructions will be most keenly watched by me, and a great interest taken therein.


message 2: by Christopher (last edited Feb 21, 2013 11:58AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Christopher Wonderful analysis, Rob. You give good insights into the meaning of WE DAMAGE WE that weren't initially apparent to me. Like you, I find this book to be chock full of interesting discussion, not just on its literary merits, but for its deep investigation into the mind of a (view spoiler). It seems like, and it's a shame that, everyone seems to think this book is really great, but there's not much discussion about it. There's so much here to talk about, much of which you've uncovered in your review.


Christopher Nathan "N.R." wrote: "Thanks Rob. I don't know if I'm delaying the reading of your review due to its length today or because I might take your disagreement with me regarding spoilers quite seriously and as I intend to ..."

For what it's worth, Nathan, I don't think it's too-too spoilery. It definitely won't ruin your reading of the book. Rob's spoilers are more about interpretation than plot. But Rob may disagree with me there...


message 4: by MJ (new) - added it

MJ Nicholls :standing ovation:


Nathan "N.R." Gaddis Christopher wrote: "There's so much here to talk about, much of which you've uncovered in your review. "

I'm pretty convinced I won't be able to resist reading the review. I've got it open in a tab for tomorrow's a.m. coffee reading. Nope, won't resist.


nostalgebraist Thank you all! And yeah, I wrote the spoiler warning before I actually wrote the rest and just assumed that I was going to be mentioning some things I didn't actually end up mentioning.


nostalgebraist . . . though MJ, not to sound ungrateful, but I'm having trouble construing the meaning of your comment when you seem to have disliked and not finished the book . . .


message 8: by MJ (new) - added it

MJ Nicholls Just that your review is a thorough and extremely good analysis. My review is a pitiful sputtering paragraph of peevish defeat, I couldn't get into the narrative voice on this one.


message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

I am a grateful reader of The Instructions who endorses this review.


Nathan "N.R." Gaddis Yep. Thanks Rob. But I continue to be unconcerned about spoilers (despite the lack of them in your review) if only because in my reading practice, going along into a book with the thoughts of another reader in mind only increases my reading pleasure, that reading-with is somehow more nuanced and complex and enjoyable than reading alone in innocence.

I especially appreciate your analysis of the ambiguity and undecidability of the concept damage. It is my suspicion that every system of thought includes within its foundation some kind of operative but indeterminable concept like damage; and in my recent reading of Derrida I find the suggestion that natural language itself is constructed of words and concepts which contain within its origins, not only ambiguity and undecidability, but contradictory meanings, as you show with damage. I'm thinking also of that Hegelian coin, "The spear which damages is the spear which heals the wound." Indeed, whatever that means!

Excellent review, and why, after 48 hours does it still have only five Likes? Indictment of goodreads that is.


message 11: by Ian (new) - added it

Ian "Marvin" Graye This review is an enormous service to potential readers. Thank you.


message 12: by Drew (new)

Drew Perron Huh. A note on something within the spoiler text which is, I'm afraid, completely tangential to the actual book:

(view spoiler)


message 13: by Valerie (new)

Valerie Is there any chance I would like this if the description doesn't appeal to me at all?


nostalgebraist I suspect you would dislike it.


message 15: by tia (new) - added it

tia Ahh, the Israeli novelist...


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