Jill's Reviews > Finny

Finny by Justin Kramon
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Mar 29, 2010

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bookshelves: first-reads
Read from April 14 to 22, 2010

The thing that I like best about reading fiction is that it transports me away from reality - things are sharper, clearer, more colorful, and definitely more meaningful than real life. The more chances I get to experience different lives, the better, which is why I appreciated getting this advance copy from the publisher.

Unfortunately, Kramon tells a story that could have happened to any of us, and he tells it in a way that is not terribly original. The thing that sets it apart from being boring (like most of our lives are when told to someone else) are the few really original characters. Kramon creates some odd folks to spice up the text, like Earl's dad and Finny's dorm mother. The rest of the characters are all mostly interesting, if sometimes one-dimensional. Kramon picks two or three to really beef up, but the rest can come across as caricatures. Of course the gay man gets AIDS, and of course the spoiled, rich brats end up unhappy. Things like this frustrated me in an otherwise believable cast.

The first several chapters in each of the three "books" have decent plot development, but the last chapter in each section has a tendency to read like someone catching up with an old friend after a long time apart, or like watching previews for a movie. I can see why Kramon would have thought this was a useful device for moving the reader on to something better, but what is the point of a life? The journey, or the destination? Apparently for Finny, it is the end.

Happily, the book is worth finishing, even if it lacks staying power. I didn't really understand Finny's behavior at the beginning, and while there was some conclusion about this at the end, I needed more motives for her actions. But if you aren't looking for the "seminal novel of our time" it's overall an enjoyable read. For a first novel, it's something to be proud of.

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