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Around the World in 1000 Pages > #1 The Changeling - Victor LaValle : Spoilers

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message 1: by Russell (new)

Russell | 166 comments Mod
Today is the start of the Around the World in 1000 Pages bookclub. Here you can talk about the book - but here spoilers are aloud. Do not read further if you don't want spoilers.

message 2: by Russell (new)

Russell | 166 comments Mod
Hello everyone! Here is a link to the New York Times Review of The Changeling. It does give some spoilers so I am putting it here. What do you think? Agree? Disagree?

message 3: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (novelenthusiast) Russell wrote: "Today is the start of the Around the World in 1000 Pages bookclub. Here you can talk about the book - but here spoilers are aloud. Do not read further if you don't want spoilers."

"His sensibility is so deadpan that it borders on a kind of derangement." - 100% agree

I also agree that it started out engagingly and moved toward awkward.

message 4: by Michelle (new)

Michelle (novelenthusiast) Weird book! I liked the social commentary. I think LaValle's writing is wonderfully (though in some cases, horrifically) descriptive. I enjoyed the storytelling until the island. From that point on, I have a ton of questions. I felt like there were some serious gaps in the story. In my experience, the message of the story was wildly inconsistent from section to section, ranging from overly blatant to indecipherable. Anyone else feel the same way?

message 5: by Francesca (new)

Francesca Scopelliti (franess) | 9 comments I totally agree! I felt like the story and the prose used throughout were very conveying and helped move the story, but once I hit the island I was completely lost. It was hard to find connections between the main story and the island. To a point I felt I was reading a different novel and the language used at times felt like, and I’m sory to say, fluff writing. It became that confusing that I couldn’t really find my place that at that section of the novel I had to reread it multiple times.

message 6: by Gayle (last edited Jan 09, 2018 09:14PM) (new)

Gayle (gpenrod) | 14 comments Agree - started off well enough, but after 'the island', the story became disjointed, and some story lines just didn't make sense or weren't fully explained. Too many loose ends for me.

message 7: by Tracy (new)

Tracy | 1 comments I think what he did was beautiful in an oddly disturbing way - and it's kind of genius. He took a seemingly normal story and turned it upside down. I do think that the island and after were...odd. BUT, I think that it was intentional. We were going through this with Apollo. Normal...and then a complete WTF-abnormal life. I imagine Apollo thinking, "What the hell just happened to my life..." And I imagine that's exactly how a parent must feel in a situation like that. Everything is great and then...its not. It's confusing, it's terrifying, it's horrific. And it's sudden.
I don't know - you've got to forgive me - I've just now finished the book and I'm still processing. There was so much going on.
But, wow...his simple, yet direct and powerful way with words. There were some lines that just blew me away. I dig his style. I'll give him that.

message 8: by Francesca (new)

Francesca Scopelliti (franess) | 9 comments In terms of writing style I think it was brilliantly worded when we got to the island a lot of prose and for shadowing. It felt like a fairytale in reverse, but I still felt like it was a bit too wordy and things could have been simplified at times. But this is just my opinion.

message 9: by Rene (new)

Rene (twobookminimum) | 1 comments I had a lot of feelings reading this book. I was really interested in it, but I think the ending felt rushed. I wanted more information about Brian West. He's such a big part of the beginning, but the big reveal didn't do much justice to the mystery. I thought the story was fun. I liked the fairytale tie in a lot. Sometimes the language seemed overly flowery, especially when describing the egregious acts of Kinder Garten and his family. Victor Lavalle is very obviously a great writer. Some incongruencies needed to be caught by editing. I gave this four stars.

message 10: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca (booksnchill) | 11 comments I loved this book and especially once we were on the Island. The use of the “Troll” and the internet “Trolls” was a great tool bringing this into the modern age and making the analogy with technology then slamming us back to the norse mythology from 3 or 4 generations past. I didn’t quite understand the violence against Apollo (really just the hammer to the head) by Emma- was it because he laid Brian on the drive and “allowed” him to be taken? I had a hard time reconciling that action since he was chained. Made it more difficult for me to believe Emma was acting as an agent for good- probably answered my own question there! Anyway, Russell thanks for yanking this off of my TBR shelf- loved it!

message 11: by Cathy (new)

Cathy I enjoyed this engaging, dark fairy tale. Immediately after completing this after an early rise to complete, I headed to the local library to check out Outside Over There by Maurice Sendak Outside Over There. I have read other Sendak books, but was unfamiliar with this one. I enjoyed how LaValle cleverly wove this children's book into this fantastical story. The Changeling was a dark , magical, and well-written story that possessed lots to enjoy, and think about.

message 12: by Heidi (new)

Heidi Leighton | 6 comments The writing was engaging and fast paced. I liked the connection of parental fears with the dangers of the internet (who's on the other end of that webcam or Alexa). The story did become somewhat hard to follow after the women's island, but I just decided to suspend disbelief and go with it. I do have questions about all the fairytale references. I am not into fairy tales so I don't know if Lavalle was referencing specific tales or just fairy tales in general? Any one have any thoughts on this?

message 13: by Bah Humpug (new)

Bah Humpug | 15 comments I couldn't put this one down! I was up late finishing it. I think I have to go back to reread the last few chapters instead of speeding through it.

That being said, I do agree with some of the criticisms here. Once we got to the island, the feel of the story abruptly changed. It was a little too jarring for me, especially since more than half of the book is set in a realistic setting. I think it might have been better to cut back the first half and expanded on the second half so it wouldn't feel so rushed and it wouldn't have felt like such a jarring change if it happened earlier.

I also kind of wish it had a different title. It gives away a big spoiler so we always know that Brian wasn't really dead. And imagine how much more chilling it would have been when Emma said, "It's not a baby," if you didn't know this was based on changeling lore.

I really enjoyed LaValle's writing. Yes, it could be flowery at times, but I flew through it and thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

message 14: by Bah Humpug (new)

Bah Humpug | 15 comments Rebecca wrote: "I loved this book and especially once we were on the Island. The use of the “Troll” and the internet “Trolls” was a great tool bringing this into the modern age and making the analogy with technolo..."

I also didn't get the hammer to his head. Also, did she really need to do that to monster Brian? Like couldn't she have done something less horrific? And why didn't she do it elsewhere? Now, there's no return for her to her normal identity, as no one will believe her story that she killed a monster, not her baby boy.

message 15: by Denaiir (new)

Denaiir | 5 comments I agree with the criticism, the start was good, fast-paced and well-written, then when Emma attacked Apollo it was just amazing, but starting on the island it became confusing and too long.

Too many storylines with tons of details we didn't need but not much details on others (I still feel that the Brian West storyline should have been explained in more details). The characters had strange reactions, it was all too convenient, and it was kind of all over the place with not much cohesion.

I loved the beginning but after the island I just lost interest completely, it was just dragging on. In the end I gave it 3 stars, when at one point I thought I would give it 5.

message 16: by Dominique (last edited Jan 27, 2018 04:58PM) (new)

Dominique Very good book. Like everyone else, a very drastic change when he went to the island.
I felt the story of what happened to his father was not that well explained. I had a feeling that what happened when he was a child was going to have a part of Brian's story.
Felt that Patrice and Dana were not that important to the storyline.

Gave it a 4 stars instead of 5. Was a beautiful written book but too many holes made it lose a star. Still will check his other novels.

message 17: by Clayton (new)

Clayton Miller | 5 comments I am just repeating what many have already said, just less eloquently. I loved the first half. Then it went into the fantastical element (the island). For me it was too jarring a transition. I really enjoy fantasy novels but this felt like two different novels which just didn't feel like comfortable bed fellows. The first half was some of the best writing I have ever read. Perfectly constructed purposeful sentences. I certainly want to read more from this author.

message 18: by Deb (last edited Jan 24, 2018 03:34PM) (new)

Deb Finished!! I gave this 4 stars. I felt I just read two separate books. I was drawn in immediately to the seemingly beautifully written literary novel. Then more than halfway through the story takes a horrific turn then you are drawn into a fairytale. Magic and mythology takes over and you enter another book. Loved both stories and how they join in the ending. I had a hard time at first transitioning from the reality portion to the magical portion but finally settled in for the ride. Fast and wonderful read!

message 19: by Deb (new)

Deb Dominique wrote: "Very good book. Like everyone else, a very drastic change when he went to the island.
I felt the story of what happened to his father was not that well explained. I had a feeling that what happened..."

Agree with your rating. I gave it 4 stars as well. I did have a hard time when the story switched gears into the fairytale.

message 20: by Bonnae (new)

Bonnae Davis | 3 comments I am new to reading groups and I have really enjoyed reading the comments about this book.
I am new to this author so I didn't know what to expect.
I agree with you all about the abrupt change halfway through that kind of let me down.
I did enjoy the book but not as much as I thought I was going to.
Recommendations for other titles by this author?

message 21: by Kamil (new)

Kamil | 3 comments I really enjoyed the prose and the initial feel of magical realism... Unfortunately, I agree with others here that the rapid shift into a fantasy was very detaching. It didn't work for me as a fairy tale retelling. One of the best qualities of a fairy tale is in my opinion is a parabolic universe, where nothing is too specific and many elements can be read as a universal metaphor. Witches and trolls just didn't fit in very real, specifically described modern world (New York, iPads, Facebook, Starbucks etc.).

I picked this book up after I'd read The Nix by Nathan Hill, and I couldn't help but to compare these two stories at times. Both have a major theme of the protagonist trying to discover secrets of a missing family member and both have elements of Scandinavian folklore. In The Nix the folklore stayed on a purely metaphorical level, a hint on how to read characters and their purpose. That's what I wish the supernatural was in The Changeling.

On the plus side - I think the ending (specifically the last few sentences) was very good.

message 22: by Susannah (new)

Susannah | 24 comments I would agree with lots of these comments, there was a point that I was thinking it could either stay more in realism or go to supernatural and I was sort of expecting the supernatural, but that change was very sudden. Also I am not sure about the writing style, some of the phrasing was jarring to read and the dialogue was not very realistic. I didn't dislike it though and gave it 3 stars. I liked that fairytale elements and there were parts where I thought the writing was good.

message 23: by Cass (new)

Cass Burton (cassburton) I've posted my full review on my channel (, but I wanted to jump in your comment section to talk about my thoughts!!

I think I understood the writing style of this book where most people found the confusion about the beginning versus the end. I saw NYC as a changeling throughout the novel. As Apollo is falling in love with his wife and falling in love with his son, we have the image of a picture perfect baby boy. When Emma commits her crime, the magical veil on this perfect baby boy is shaken, and there are fantastical bits that are conflicting with the picture perfect boy. And then at the end with the troll and the graveyard, the image of the baby boy is completely shattered and only the changeling remains. I felt that NYC was also going through it's own change. The beginning of the novel we have picture perfect NYC. The middle is when the veil is being lifted, and there are just threads of NYC that we recognize and the fantastic NYC is beginning to emerge. At the end, the NYC veil is completely lifted and the fantastical changeling NYC is all that is left.

I don't think it was as important to understand if Emma was a witch. The identity of each character was hanging in the balance of the magic of the changeling. I tweeted at Victor Lavalle and he said, "Thanks for the read and the thoughtful breakdown of it’s themes. Appreciate both! That idea of slowly tilting from the real to unreal was tightrope walking. Glad to see it came through." So I think I'm on the right track!

The only mystery that I misunderstood was also the mystery of his father. I'm with everyone on this as well!

Shaun  (Lost in Books, Film, and Floss) | 2 comments I have a full review of this up at my blog ( https://eclecticreadssite.wordpress.c... )

In short I loved his writing. I liked his writing more than the story itself. I agree with the earlier comment about the title spoiling the big reveal if you already know the lore. Luckily I didn't. One of my main problems was the resolution of his dreams with his father. Did he have to tie up that thread and when he got to that point realized he had strayed from it's original intent? Or are we meant to be left wondering if Apollo in fact had the same thing happen to him and Brian rescued him? The boiling water is obviously significant to dealing with a changeling but how?

My other point of contention, and please correct me if I missed something, that is entirely possible, but how did Kinder Garten do what he did to the Island? I have a hard time believing that his internet troll people just had drones at the ready to command and shoot missiles down wherever he pointed. Nothing he did was supernatural in nature, it was all technology based. Did I miss an explanation for this?

Thank you Russell for picking this as the first book, it was one I wanted to get to and probably would not have this soon if not for my interest in joining along in the book club. Really looking forward to the February pick.

message 25: by Veronica (new)

Veronica  (vblanc) I finished the book last night and have such mixed feelings about this book.

Like many other I thought the 1st part of the book was pretty well structured, I liked the development of Apollo from boy, to young man. I think this started to split before the big scene where he is tied to in the kitchen. I didn't think Emma was developed well at all....i thought her Brazil part was going to be apart of something further in the book? I may have missed that i don't know.

So it fell apart after the island, which i would love a book on the Wise Ones, I was like where they going what are they going to do? I miss them already! lol I was fine until he came back from there and then to the grave and so just got confusing. I ever read parts to my hubby (he is not a reader but is good a mythology and fold stories) to understand what was going on, how is this coming together. I am still not sure if Emma was a witch...seemed so i dont know and then it just ended...nicely??? after all that....with a bow on top...nah dont buy it.

However, I did like the authors writing style if not in this book and am willing to try his other books! :)
Loved this as the 1st pick Russell made me think alot!!!!

message 26: by Russell (new)

Russell | 166 comments Mod
Khadedra posted in the video comments this interview with the author if you are interested.

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