COTH Book Club discussion

Blindness > Blindness- FINISHED reading :)

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message 1: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca (bexactually) | 17 comments Mod
Please direct all "finished" reading commentary here!

message 2: by Bird4416 (new)

Bird4416 | 20 comments I enjoyed the beginning of the book. The middle just dragged on for me and it got too unbelievable. Once they left the building it got marginally better. The authors obsession with smell and bodily functions really put me off the book. Yes it smelled bad and people had to go where the urge hit them but really it wasn't necessary to tell us about it constantly. I was expecting more from the book and it was a disappointment.

message 3: by Ellen (new)

Ellen Broadhurst (reynardridge) | 32 comments I found Blindness a compelling read (listen, audio). The plot device of "universal blindness, save one" required that I suspend my disbelief, as the blindness (save one!) appeared and ultimately disappeared without cause did not sit well with my "Believe It" meter. That said, I read it more as a fable of human behavior which worked for me. I was very suspicious at first of the Unblind wife, but got over it for the sake of the story; she made it most interesting.

I found the discussions of bodily functions appropriate and critical to the story. Having just finished Unbroken (a true story of Japanese POW camps), I thought it was important for the author to be clear as to the conditions that humans were living with. My imagination would probably not have come up with piles of liquid human s*&t as part of a population being blind, so the icky bits were a critical component of creating the fictional landscape. As were the humans being eaten by dogs, etc. My imagination would probably not have conjured these things up, so the author was kind enough to provide insight. ;-)

I thought it was profound of the author to include bits like what happened to cancer patients. Of course, they died. I thought the author did not exploit enough the role people who had been blind prior to the epidemic would play. I think having a pre-blind person play the heavy was a good bit of writing, but, more could have been done with a "pre-blind" character.

Where I thought the author really missed the boat was in the impact the destruction of families would have. Within the main characters, we had two married coupled, a few single people and one lost child. As a mother, as I read this story, the true doomsday scenario from my perspective would have been the loss of my children.

No offense to my husband, who I would miss very much if I were to lose him in a end-of-civilization event, the loss of my children would be catastrophic beyond my ability to communicate. No mother with a gram of a soul could imagine her children wandering blind, starving, and terrified without losing their mind.

This was a *huge* miss for me in the story. The boy with the squint was a boy who lost his parents and moved on, as a child will do. The girl with dark glasses was always thinking of her parents, but these are all grown people. There were no mother's in the story who had lost their small children.

At the end of the day, I did think the book was well crafted, engaging and a compelling read. It's a tricky sort of book, though, in that there are people I would highly recommend it to, and others I would strongly suggest skip it. Polarizing, I think is the right word.

message 4: by Katie (new)

Katie | 12 comments I agree that the whole appearing/disappearing epidemic of blindless left me wanting a little more. I felt like the author, for some reason, felt compelled to end the story on a happy note. WHY? This was not a look at hope-it was an examination of human behavior. And the point was made clearly throughout the book that human behavior/nature, when stripped down, really kind of sucks. We're no better than animals. So to end on a "we can see!" note seemed like a cop out to me. Also, I felt that there was little growth or resolution on the parts of the main characters. I'm not sure its clear to me what they learned, if anything other than "golly, it sure does suck to be blind".

message 5: by Katie (new)

Katie | 12 comments also wanted to add...did anyone else have REALLY weird dreams while reading this? I know I did!

message 6: by Bird4416 (new)

Bird4416 | 20 comments I agree about the parents losing a child thing. I would have been completely frantic as I imagine most parents would be and the author never touched on that at all. I don't recall any mention of infants or toddlers in the book either.

And it did read more as a fable but I'm still trying to figure out the moral of the story.

message 7: by Bagheera (new)

Bagheera | 4 comments I did think the story was well crafted, and I really liked the premise, but I couldn't get past how badly the pandemic was handled. It kept nagging at me...

No doctor who suspected something was contagious would then immediately go to bed with his wife. But what nagged at me even more is that before they knew how far the blindness had spread the doctor never suggested to his wife how valuable she could be for research.

As a doctor, you'd think it would at least bother him enough to mention it. She might have had the key to a cure... since it quickly became obvious that if not immune, she was at least incredibly resistant to the blindness. While it was nice for him to have his wife with him (though apparently not nice enough to stop him from having sex with someone else...), they had no idea that the blindness was going to end. The possibility that his wife held the key to a cure should have bothered him enough for them to have a few conversations about it. Given her character she probably would have stayed anyway, so it wouldn't have needed to change the story much.

One other thing that bothered me was they way conversations were handled in the book. At first, I can see there being confusion over who was talking, hence the jumbled together paragraphs. At some point though, they should have started recognising voices. Unless people were constantly on the move, there would also be spatial cues. It would have been better to move to more conventional conversation layout as the novel progressed, as that would have shown them adapting to their new situation.

Despite my complaints, I still enjoyed exploring the idea of everybody going blind.

message 8: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 10 comments Finished it -- I think it was worth reading but I need to think on it some. I think the book wasn't really about Blindness in a literal sense but Blindness as a metaphor for something but I'm not sure what that is yet -- or a fable as Bird4416 said. I rushed at the end, partly to find out how it ended. The scene is the church seems important to the book and its message.

I was interested in reading the book after I heard an author talking on NPR about how she never reads books more than once except for this book, which she has read several times. I think on a second or third read I'd see more than I did on the first pass.

message 9: by Ellen (new)

Ellen Broadhurst (reynardridge) | 32 comments I'm not sure I *could* read it again. There are many, many books in my life that I lovingly read over and over again (even more so now that I am reading the books I loved as a child to my children). But this one was too emotionally draining. I feel that way about The Art of Racing in the Rain, too. Really grand book, but I don't think I have the emotional stamina to read it again.

message 10: by Ellen (last edited Mar 11, 2011 09:50PM) (new)

Ellen Broadhurst (reynardridge) | 32 comments Given the comments, I'd love to get up a round up (because I am the curious sort). There are twenty nine member of this group.

1. Could you finish it? yes/no
2. Did you think it was dreadful?
3. Did you think it well written and would maybe read again or recommend it?

I know that is a stupid survey, but I'm interested generally. Actually, I'm interested in the same general questions for Lord of Misrule, too, if anyone answers this. ;-)

message 11: by Ellen (new)

Ellen Broadhurst (reynardridge) | 32 comments Me, me! Pick me! Okay, I'll go first. ;-)

1. Finished it, BUT probably because I listened as an audio book).
2. I thought it was well written and would recommend it with reservations, but would not read it again.

Lord of Misrule
1. Finished it. Took MONTHS. Probably because I was reading it as a hard cover book and it was hard to read. Really hard.
2. I thought it was well written and would recommend it again with reservations, but would not read it again.

What is interesting to me is that I felt exactly the same way about both books: I think they were both VERY difficult books. Maybe we need to pick something with "high readability" for April.

message 12: by Bird4416 (new)

Bird4416 | 20 comments Blindness
1. Finished it but the middle was tough going.
2. I thought it was dreadful
3. I would conditionaly recommend it to certain people.

Lord of Misrule
1. Finished it quickly
2. I liked it.
3. I thought it was well written and did recommend it to a friend but she couldn't finish it. (Person with limited horse knowledge and no racetrack knowledge)

High readability is a good recommendation for April.

message 13: by Ruth (new)

Ruth | 10 comments Blindness
1.Finished it
2. Like is not the right word but I think it was worth reading.
3.I won't read it again but I will read other books by the author. Would recommend to certain people.

Lord of Misrule
1. Didn't finish it. Just couldn't get going on it. Language issue, sense of doom given that it was about a small time horse racing track. Yes, Blindness had a sense of doom but I can deal with it in people in clearly non-real situations.

I didn't give Lord of Misrule the old college try whereas with Blindness I got into it enough to want to know what happens at the end.

message 14: by Mari Alice (new)

Mari Alice (snipper) | 7 comments Didn't finish Blindness and gave it away to a reader-friend asap. She likes entirely different books from me, so maybe she'll like it.
I did like Lord of Misrule and have recommended it already but will probably not re-read it.
I do agree that both were very difficult for me, but I'm of the mystery & vampire book genre. I read all the "must read" books I'll ever read in college and definitely not ever again in my spare time.

message 15: by Lucy (new)

Lucy (lcsd114) | 7 comments Ok, here we go...

1. I finished it but only because I wanted to know how it ended and I cared about some of the characters. It was difficult to read, though.
2. It wasn't dreadful but it was not great either. Simply because of the way it was written. It was an interesting story and a real-eye opener as to how society treats people who are different or who have unusual illnesses. I equated it to the way AIDS was treated in the early days. Fear is the number one reaction to anything strange, rather than compassion.
3. It was well written enough to make me want to finish it but the whole grammar/speech issue made me crazy. I would not read it again but may recommend it.

Lord Of Misrule
1. Yes, I finished it but it was a struggle. I really didn't care for the story or the characters.
2. I really didn't like it. It gave me a grimy feeling after reading it and I had to force myself to carry on for the Book Club.
3. I will not read it again and would not recommend it.

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