Arc Provided by 47 North through Netgalley
Book Status: Already Released (June 28th)
I'm afraid that the only positive remark I can write about this story (without revealing the WHOLE PLOT)... is that it didn't make me want to set it on fire. -_-
In the same state of mind, I have to mention that it never pissed me off... much.
No, wait there was that time in which the character... you know what? Never mind.
Truth is, I found it incredibly boring and many were the times in which I almost DNF it.
The beginning, and really, I am talking about the very first pages weren't bad: I like a mystery
just like every one else, but then things got so strange in a, "oh, here's a few crumbs of different colours and textures, and I know that nothing makes sense, but you'll keep on reading, right?", meaning that I only reached the last page by pure stubbornness. When I want, I can be the queen of stubborn people.
There were no tangible facts: no world building. There was also a strange mish mash of stories, and concepts, to which I never warmed up to.
The characters, with the exception of Maeve, were pretty forgetful, and the whole abstract feel of the story, didn't help the matter.
The romance was dealt in a pretty meh way, especially for people who are supposed to be... who they are. Yes, I am being vague on purpose.
In the end, when I found out about why our character had done what she did _ ????_ was when I got a little pissed off, because I felt that different concepts had been completely mixed ( human and not so human)... and I don't know how to be more clear without spoiling the whole thing. But I felt that I was being somewhat preached ( as a woman) and I had a huge problem with that.
Not for me, I'm afraid: for me, strange does not a book make.
And here it is: a confusing book review for a strange story concept.
This book has been showing up for ages on every list of things I ought to read practically ever, so after a few glowing reviews from people I actually knew, I decided it was probably time to read it. It is supposed to be the first real psychological thriller, and on that count it does seem to succeed (assuming it is the first--I fully admit to not researching that claim). The problem I had with it is that it is oddly told.
It is much harder to feel what you ought (or at least what I was hoping to feel) during the second half of the book, because everything has already played out. Okay, there are a few curiosities, but you know what is going to happen. It is intriguing to see the differing understandings of the characters on motivations and occasionally even exact events, but alternating chapters seems like a better way of handling this in a lot of ways. There was no question about whether she would succeed at this or that, because we had already seen it from his eyes. We had already seen everything from his eyes. So the "thriller" aspects were downplayed.
The characters themselves: wow. I'm not sure what the author was going for. I'm going to assume that we were not supposed to sympathize with either character for very long and were thus supposed to feel bad about ourselves a bit. That's kind of where I was throughout--I had moments of sympathy, but an awful lot of moments where I kind of wanted to just leave the two of them together to torture each other, because they were both terrible people. Differently terrible, but terrible all the same.
The writing styles of the two worked quite well in explaining their personalities--they did sound distinctly different, and they were well-realized characters, despite being awful. Well-realized awful people that you are willing to read about for an entire novel are tricky to pull off, so kudos for that.
The ending was quite good and had this been a movie (has this been a movie? Seems likely, now that I think about it.), it would have been a sequel hook, no question.
I'm glad I did read it, and I'll probably pick up more Fowles books, but it's not going on my "favorites" shelf anytime soon.
Oh, I had such high hopes for this.
Even starting it I was intrigued. It felt a little Alice in Wonderland (or, okay, maybe just a little Splintered), and I do love gothic books set in weird places. Asylums? Crazy people? Icing on the cake!
Then things got weird.
Now, weird can be good. There is lots of good weird in fiction, and there's a place for it. That place is even often on my bookshelf. This took things to a new a different weird place, and I was not enjoying the trip. Do you know that moment when you are reading along, and you have to stop for something, and then the entirety of what you have been reading hits you like a freight train and you are vaguely horrified at yourself? That was this book for me. I set it down for ten minutes for something and then picked it back up and looked at the words in complete confusion. The spell was broken and I realized nothing made sense.
The second part of the book does manage to at least maintain a moderately coherent plot thread, but even then it is not anywhere near as enjoyable as I would hope. The first part just sort of stumbles through character interactions and situations like a drunk at a party, knocking things down without picking them back up and often turning around and going the wrong way for a time.
The characters are all pretty awful. Their motives for any of their actions are paper-thin at best (we're talking newsprint and not watercolor paper, here), and honestly, they were all insane. Or sociopathic. Or perhaps both--I'm not a psychiatrist, and I'm not sure I'm comfortable diagnosing (or being in the same room) as these people. They went from happiness to anger to happiness to murder to not murder to murder but by a different way to happiness to fear. In one chapter. Without a great rationale behind pretty much any of it.
I hate not liking gothic and quirky books, but I'm not sure I should have even finished this. I think I was hoping it would get better at some point, but unfortunately it never managed.
This book was provided to me for free via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.