Sunday, January 6, 2008

Back! Now for some reviews...

I am back! Finally! I know you've all been holding your breath...

I have so much to post, only because I finally got to read. So this is the plan. I'm going to post here the last book I read in 2007, do a round-up post, then post the three books I've read in 2008 so far. Yeah, loser.

So the last book of 2007 I finished was We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. I really wish I had had easy internet access while I was reading it, because I had so many reactions to it.

My overall initial reaction was negative. I bumbled through the first 50-100 pages, with the hope that it would get better over time. Also because I try to finish every book I start. But these were my major hangups with it:

1. The whole letter-writing conceit. I've never been a big fan, only because I feel it's somewhat limiting, and I also can't seem to completely buy into it. I'm always like, "Would you REALLY say that in a letter to someone who already knows you?" It also just seemed so tiring for me to read. I think letter-writing can be a cool thing, but a novel written entirely as a series of letters really bothers me unless it's done really well, or seems entirely necessary. I felt this was neither.

2. The main character's voice is incredibly pretentious. Too many large words that were unnecessary. I get that it's in line with the character herself, but it made the reading insufferable since we're getting so much narrative instead of scene. That also brings me to...

3. The main character is incredibly unsympathetic. I wanted to SMACK her 90% of the time, it was so hard for me to like her, and when she was trying to portray herself as sympathetic, I really didn't buy it. She is pretentious, her narrative is self-absorbed..... I hated her. And not in the good way. In the, OH GOD IF I HAVE TO READ ANY MORE OF HER LETTERS I MIGHT SHOOT MYSELF way.

4. Also, the other characters were all equally unsympathetic. There really was no one to root for.

5. It was hard to believe any of these characters were real. I really didn't buy that a child could be THAT evil from conception. Maybe I'm biased because I love children and don't believe the devil spawn thing, but the kid was so crazy that I just had a hard time believing it was a real child, and not something created from imagination. Similarly, her second child who is the opposite foil to her first child, who is so good and absurdly fragile... it was too neat. As a person who believes children are complex, just as complex as grown-ups, it seemed absolutely ridiculous to have these black and white characters who obviously just represented some larger theme.

6. The whole book seemed intent on THEME in the way that Crash as a movie is. Too in your face. Too unbeliebable.

That said though, I kept reading, because sections of SCENE were actually compelling, and I kind of did want to know what happened. It was well-written enough, plotwise, that I was willing to turn the pages and find out what happened. But I really wish she had chosen a different way to explore the themes of nature vs nurture and motherhood, etc. I like the theme behind it, but I just felt like it took a little persistence on my part to read through it, not because it was slow, but because it was very nearly infuriating.

All in all? I give this a bleh rating.

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