Friday, September 28, 2007

Nonono! Still unlikable, still annoying!

I have 5 pages left to go, but I've been interrupted by my arrival at work. I normally would hold out until I finish, but quite frankly, I have to say this about what I've read:

There are moments when I'm a little sympathetic towards Lee's plight - but quite honestly, when, towards the end, Cross tells her that if she stopped thinking she was so weird, then she'd realize she wasn't as weird as she thought, or that she kinda made her lot, I totally agree. I mean this guy sleeps with her and she feels all used and all that, I get it, but Lee totally did make it what it was, and he seems like a really decent guy. I mean she's fucking psycho. I kept waiting in this book for her to become more sympathetic, but in the end, I think she's too self-indulgent in her wallowing, and even though this is written as if looking back from many years, it seems like she's trying to explain and maybe justify everything that has happened. The thing is, it's not that normal people don't have the feelings she has, because I can recognize myself sometimes in some of the things she thinks. But it's not portrayed or explained sympathetically - I can't help but think that all the bad things that happen to her, she chooses for herself, instead of actively trying to change.

So that's my plot/character criticism. My craft criticism has to do with the fact that Curtis Sittenfeld chooses to make this backwards looking from adulthood. It makes the whole thing a little more detached. Even then, I'd expect it to be told then, humorously, because I mean come on, who doesn't look back at when they were maladjusted teenagers and kinda laugh at themselves? The introspection is too much; it needed to be counterbalanced with some humor or something. My other criticism is that she just talks WAY TOO MUCH and thinks WAY TOO MUCH for a teenager. Even if it's backwards looking, I don't really need to be explained what everything means in the grand scheme of things, when ultimately, I've been in hs before too and I know what it's like. Too much! Show the growing pains and leave it at that! And it makes me wonder if this character has grown up to be an unlikable adult. I also disliked how in the context of narrating something happening at the moment, the narrator would suddenly mention things that happened much later or give things away like, "Later on when I was older, I would realize..." or "Later when it was all over and I was trying to figure it out..." It takes me out of the moment, and I frankly could care less about who she becomes later.

There's 5 pages for this book to be wrapped up so that I feel like I'm getting something out of it. A lesson or SOMETHING to be learned. It would be amazing if she pulls it off, but I don't think she will.

The sad thing is, I actually do think the story itself can be interesting - who doesn't like to hear about crazy high school kids and romances behind the doors? Everything else was interesting, but it was like trying to see around the annoying narrator to what I was into. It's a shame, really, but I feel she could have made the character a lot more sympathetic. In the end, I never felt truly sorry for her situation. She was to me, always unlikable (and perhaps I would have been that girl in school who would have shunned her for that reason), because she never seemed to learn anything within the course of the story (only in retrospect), because she never seemed to get over her shame of who she was or where she came from, etc etc. I mean maybe that's how it is in real-life - we don't always grow up until we go to college or much later even - but this is fiction, and in fiction dammit, we're supposed to get something out of it. She just became that chick that no one liked, and, I thought, with good reason. Quite honestly, I never understood why the decent people in life like her anyway.

Argh. I think I liked this book much more in the beginning when I thought it was going somewhere. Now I feel slightly cheated because nothing ever really changes.

Um, I'll post a final final when I finish the last few pages (maybe) but for all intents and purposes, this can be my final judgment. A resounding: eh.

P.S. NY Times bestseller, one of NYTimes Book Review best books of the year? REALLY?!?!??!?!?!! What were they reading that year???

1 drops:

moonrat said...

it's funny--everyone i've talked to who's actually read this has been REALLY lukewarm on it. so. hmm.

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