Hilary's Reviews > Semi-Charmed Life

Semi-Charmed Life by Nora Zelevansky
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's review
Jul 04, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: first-reads, fiction, fantasy, ya-lit, chick-lit, humor, 2012
Read from September 30 to October 10, 2012

I won this book through the first-reads program.

Semi-Charmed Life is Nora Zelevansky's authorial debut, and also a novel that she wrote during NaNoWriMo if I'm not mistaken. The book is a well-done satire on how obsessed we are as a culture with the concepts and trappings on fame, and how hollow a pursuit it truly can be. Wrapped up in all of this commentary is a dash of magical realism, well placed humor, and an air of mystery. That's quite a lot for a first novel to contain.

Personally, I found the book a bit difficult. Primarily, I think that's more my problem than it is a reflection on the book. Not being too engaged in the TMZ culture the book is talking about, some of the references were lost on me and I think a fair bit of that humor missed me. I felt a bit late to the party, but I can think of a few friends of mine who would be caught right in the middle of it all.

The jokes that I did get were unanimously hilarious. In particular the line about Jackson Pollock was great, and some of the jabs at both the Goth culture and poetry culture were great. I think if the book had been more focused on literary figures and the like I would have had an easier time of it. Actually, Fifty Shades of Louisa May comes to mind, though these books are leagues apart.

The writing was solid, though bit too reference heavy for my taste. The actual story was well done, and once I passed the 73 page mark the book really began to flow for me as a reader. I enjoyed the fact that she took a magical realism approach to the book, and would actual push to emphasise that aspect of it next time around. The no-holds barred approach to the fantastic element reminded me of Jonathan Carroll's sheer weirdness, though as a first novel, the writing lacked some of the confidence needed to truly pull off something of Carroll's stature.

All in all, I did enjoy the book and am curious to see what happens next. Nora Zelevanksy is an author that I'm hoping to see more of, and I'm hoping will keep up the irreverent air shown in this first novel. Now, if only I could conjure up a Veruca for my own life!
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10/03/2012 page 27
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