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The Changeling
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Group Reads Discussions 2018 > "The Changeling" - First Impressions *NO SPOILERS*

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message 1: by Allison, Fairy Mod-mother (last edited Aug 05, 2018 06:59AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Allison Hurd | 13034 comments Mod
Y'all were feeling a bit of the ol' horror so here we are with our random pick!

What do you think so far? Please, no commentary on the plot points or character growth! The full spoiler thread will be up next week.

CONTENT WARNINGS for those of you who would like some heads up. No commentary on plot, just a list of topics (view spoiler)


Anthony (albinokid) | 1471 comments Thank you for starting the thread, I’ve been itching to get to talk to folks about this book. I’m about halfway through and I think Victor LaValle is an exceptional writer. He crafts fluid, sharp, often laugh-out-loud-funny prose that feels totally and appropriately modern.

I’m also grateful that I didn’t really know what a changeling is before I started the book. I *thought* that I did, but I was mistaken, and my mistake has allowed me to be totally and wonderfully (wonderfully horribly) surprised by the twists and turns of the plot, which is a welcome and rare experience.

I’m supremely allergic to spoilers so I hadn’t read anything about the plot before I began; I just saw that the book had been shortlisted for several awards. I can totally see why.

I do agree that there should be some trigger warnings. I imagine it might be extra tough for some folks. I’ve certainly found it upsetting. But I don’t mind being upset when the writing is as strong and emotionally grounded as this.

Eager to hear others’ thoughts!


message 3: by Sarah (new) - added it

Sarah | 2610 comments Thanks for the content warnings Allison. Kinda bummed- I had planned on reading this but now I’m thinking I won’t.


message 4: by Allison, Fairy Mod-mother (new) - rated it 3 stars

Allison Hurd | 13034 comments Mod
Sarah wrote: "Thanks for the content warnings Allison. Kinda bummed- I had planned on reading this but now I’m thinking I won’t."

I know, I'm sorry! When I finish it, if it ends differently and I can make it safer for you with a brief spoiler, I'll shoot you a message.


message 5: by Gabi (last edited Aug 02, 2018 07:20AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Gabi | 3405 comments I finished the book some days ago - and I'm still not sure how I feel about it.

My first impression was absolutely great. The writing immediately dragged me into the story. There was a nagging thought in the back of my mind asking over 3/4 of the book why this was counted as fantasy, but that didn't diminish my eagerness to read.
The slow build up of the story hinted at enough doom to keep me curious. And cause of this slow build up the turning point caught me completely unaware like a sledgehammer in the stomach. Great effect, even though it made me feel nauseated for some minutes.
Brilliant for part of the book … and then the end … I still don't know what I should think about the end. (hope I know till the full spoiler thread comes up)


Travis Foster (travismfoster) | 1154 comments I'm around 45% right now and definitely enjoying it. There's some expository dialogue that bugs just a bit, but the slow burn, characterization, and sharp insights into contemporary experience are all keeping me fully absorbed. I'm listening to the audio, which LaValle narrates, and he does such a nice job of it.


message 7: by Anna, Circadian heretic (new) - rated it 3 stars

Anna (vegfic) | 9629 comments Mod
I didn't know he narrates it himself! The audio is on sale until tomorrow (Audible US).


message 8: by Ariana (new)

Ariana | 657 comments Allison wrote: "Sarah wrote: "Thanks for the content warnings Allison. Kinda bummed- I had planned on reading this but now I’m thinking I won’t."

I know, I'm sorry! When I finish it, if it ends differently and I ..."


I'm in the same boat! I don't mind being spoiled if I get to enjoy a book I would otherwise feel compelled to skip for anxiety issues.


message 9: by Allison, Fairy Mod-mother (new) - rated it 3 stars

Allison Hurd | 13034 comments Mod
Ariana, I'll add you to my minor spoilers distro list!


message 10: by Sarah (new) - added it

Sarah | 2610 comments Allison wrote: "Sarah wrote: "Thanks for the content warnings Allison. Kinda bummed- I had planned on reading this but now I’m thinking I won’t."

I know, I'm sorry! When I finish it, if it ends differently and I ..."


No worries! I’d rather know now. I’m so overwhelmed with scheduled reads in the next two weeks missing this is okay. But yeah if you want to send the spoilers over later that would be great.


message 11: by Anna, Circadian heretic (new) - rated it 3 stars

Anna (vegfic) | 9629 comments Mod
Well this does start slow! Although it's maybe throwing me off a bit because the chapters are so short, so it seems like we should be further along in the plot by Chapter 12. I'm listening to the audio, and the narration is very calm and soothing. I hope that'll help when I get to the creepy parts.


Aleksandra Gogić (aleks_g) | 197 comments I've started and read first few chapters and I like it so far. I found writing style compelling, short sentences and fast plot refreshing (not sure if complete book is written like this).


message 13: by Anthony (last edited Aug 02, 2018 06:00AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Anthony (albinokid) | 1471 comments I have mostly enjoyed this book but lately things have sort of gone off the rails a bit. Curious to see how it resolves.

Edited after Allison’s advice re spoilers.


message 14: by Allison, Fairy Mod-mother (new) - rated it 3 stars

Allison Hurd | 13034 comments Mod
Hmm...yah, sorry, I think I'd ask that you just remove either the point you've reached or the part about the plot, just to be extremely conservative about spoilers. Thanks, Anthony!


Anthony (albinokid) | 1471 comments Allison wrote: "Hmm...yah, sorry, I think I'd ask that you just remove either the point you've reached or the part about the plot, just to be extremely conservative about spoilers. Thanks, Anthony!"

Happily edited, thanks for the feedback!


message 16: by Allison, Fairy Mod-mother (new) - rated it 3 stars

Allison Hurd | 13034 comments Mod
:)


Victoria Lestingi (vlestin) | 41 comments As for first impressions goes, this book really reminded me of The Shadow of the Wind, a Spanish fantasy I was fascinated with some 10 years ago. I hope the similarities remain.


message 18: by Allison, Fairy Mod-mother (new) - rated it 3 stars

Allison Hurd | 13034 comments Mod
I'm also liking it. The fantasy is extremely subtle, as is the horror so far, for me. But it's there. *shiver*


message 19: by Gabi (new) - rated it 3 stars

Gabi | 3405 comments Victoria wrote: "As for first impressions goes, this book really reminded me of The Shadow of the Wind, a Spanish fantasy I was fascinated with some 10 years ago. I hope the similarities remain."

So yes! This was my impression as well!


message 20: by Anna, Circadian heretic (new) - rated it 3 stars

Anna (vegfic) | 9629 comments Mod
For me the horror is there because I know it's coming. It's a horror book. So at the start even though nothing is happening, I'm expecting it all the time. And well, it *is* there even at the start, but sooo subtly that it would be easy not to notice if you didn't know to look for it.

I think this would really benefit reading it with someone irl, or at least talking about it more frequently. There are so many little things that I'd love to speculate about.


message 21: by Dawn F (last edited Aug 02, 2018 10:26PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dawn F (psychedk) | 1219 comments Dark, upsetting, horror, folklore you say? Just bought it on Audible cos all of you guys have made me super curious about it now, well done! :D It'll be a while before I can get around to it, though, want to finish some of the, uh, many books I'm currently reading first :)


Anthony (albinokid) | 1471 comments I finished it on a plane today and I found some of it frustrating but I admire it a lot too...he’s definitely a writer I’m intrigued to follow from here.


message 23: by Gabi (new) - rated it 3 stars

Gabi | 3405 comments Anthony wrote: "I finished it on a plane today and I found some of it frustrating but I admire it a lot too...he’s definitely a writer I’m intrigued to follow from here."

I'm looking forward to your thoughts, when the spoiler thread comes up. I am curious if your reason for frustration was the same as mine.


Francisca | 228 comments Anna wrote: "For me the horror is there because I know it's coming. It's a horror book. So at the start even though nothing is happening, I'm expecting it all the time. And well, it *is* there even at the start, but sooo subtly that it would be easy not to notice if you didn't know to look for it."

I definitely didn't notice at the start - I'm about a quarter of the way through and am somewhat enjoying the slow pace of unveiling.


Christopher | 899 comments I had a weird moment today where I was reading while waiting for my train, then the characters went to the train station I was currently at.


message 26: by Allison, Fairy Mod-mother (new) - rated it 3 stars

Allison Hurd | 13034 comments Mod
Oh man, that's kinda spooky lol


Patricia | 38 comments I finished listening to this book several days ago. Loved the narration by the author. Interestingly, I was also reading Shadow of the Wind at the same time. The Changeling I could not put down (stop listening). I finished it in a day and a half. Taking my time with Shadow. Not as compelling for me so far. Read an interview with Lavalle which explains a few things that bothered me about the book.


message 28: by Gabi (new) - rated it 3 stars

Gabi | 3405 comments @Patricia: could you talk about the explained things in the spoiler thread or link the interview? I'd be very interested in this.


message 29: by Hank (new) - rated it 3 stars

Hank (hankenstein) | 1128 comments Slow to get going, not sure how much longer I can wait. I am also not a fan of authors reading their own books. Too much narrator voice, not enough character voice.


Valerie (darthval) | 781 comments So excited to finally have the book from the library in the same month as the official read. Getting started today. YAY!


message 31: by Allison, Fairy Mod-mother (new) - rated it 3 stars

Allison Hurd | 13034 comments Mod
Woohoo! I love when the stars align!


message 32: by Edwin (last edited Aug 15, 2018 04:38PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Edwin Priest | 605 comments Hank wrote: "I am also not a fan of authors reading their own books. Too much narrator voice, not enough character voice."

Yup. Totally agree.

I too am audiobook-ing this one. I am about 1/4 of the way through. There is certainly an underlying tension and I am sure bad stuff is coming...........but...........boy, does this seem rather mundane so far.


Oleksandr Zholud | 831 comments I'm about 40% throu and about the first quarter of the book it was like some general fiction with a bit of magic realism and not the horror. Then stuff started happening...
I like it so far.


Valerie (darthval) | 781 comments Edwin wrote: "Hank wrote: "I am also not a fan of authors reading their own books. Too much narrator voice, not enough character voice."

Yup. Totally agree.

I too am audiobook-ing this one. I am about 1/4 of t..."


I am also about a quarter of the way through and doing audio.
I agree with both of you.

1. Boo to author as narrator. He isn't the worst narrator I've experienced, but he doesn't add much to it.
2. I am struggling to maintain interest. The narrative seems needlessly drawn out. I suspect this is exacerbated by the lackluster narration.

It does seem likes something is about to happen, but sheesh. It has been tedious getting here. Hoping the payoff is worth it.


Dawn F (psychedk) | 1219 comments So I’ve *just* started listening to the author’s own reading of The Changeling and wow, I’m already loving his tight, economical writing! This is totally me. Also I’m barely two chapters in and I already got chills down my spine. I agree, it definitely has horror elements.

Can’t wait to see if he can keep up this level of thrilling intrigue! Already regretting having plans both tomorrow and Saturday (concert, then Pride), won’t get much reading done, aarg!


Edwin Priest | 605 comments Valerie wrote: "It does seem likes something is about to happen, but sheesh. It has been tedious getting here. Hoping the payoff is worth it"

No spoilers here, but something BIG did finally just happen.


message 37: by AMG (new)

AMG (thenecessarysalamander) | 306 comments I'm only on chapter 7 (I'm being pretty slow; it hasn't "caught" me yet), and it's definitely different from anything I've read before. I can't decide if I like how different it is or if I don't like it.


Ellen | 521 comments About 3/4 through. Liking it but not the best book to read before bed. Having creepy dreams.


message 39: by Allison, Fairy Mod-mother (new) - rated it 3 stars

Allison Hurd | 13034 comments Mod
Haha yes, it does change the mood of the room a bit


message 40: by Norton (new)

Norton Beckerman. (nortsb) | 93 comments When I started it I thought the writing was good, character buildup and description excellent.


Sabrina | 365 comments My library is so slow: I requested it as soon as the polls were over and they bought it, yay! But now they seem to be cataloguing this book forever. I will eventually get to it, but it might be after August, bugger!


message 42: by J.W. (new) - rated it 5 stars

J.W. | 219 comments Finally got it in at Library. Quite enjoying it so far. Seems a book for book lovers. I generally enjoy that kind of book. Curious to see what will happen to get it put in our group, though.


Dawn F (psychedk) | 1219 comments Hah, I loved that part too! Reminded me a bit of Murakami’s meta style.


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