Hello readers! Two book reviews for you today. One was fine, the other was one of the best books I’ve ever read. Surprise!
Their reviews below. As always, they are spoiler free.
Sidebar: I also recently started All The Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood and loved it so much (gripping story, great writing), but couldn’t finish it because the content was making it hard for me to sleep at night (child abuse). But if you can stomach it (or don’t have young children the same ages), I definitely recommend. I still keeping wondering what happened!
Happy reading! And thank you to those who recommended these books! Suggestions always welcome.
1. Fates and Furies.
If You’re Looking For: Literary fiction
If You Like: I don’t know what to compare this to. It’s like a mix of Gone Girl, Margaret Atwood, and a long, beautiful poem.
My Review: I stopped and started this book over a dozen times until a friend encouraged me to keep going as the perspective shifts from one character to another halfway through the book (think: Gone Girl, but then stop thinking Gone Girl). And so I pushed through, partly because I trust this friend and her taste in books, and partly because I did enjoy the first part. I was simply unsure of where it was going and how it could possibly keep up the rhythm and tone without becoming boring. And I’m so glad I did. This novel unfolds and reveals itself slowly, making it all worth the wait in the second half. Even more striking is the language itself. Lauren has a way with words that may be hard to accept (at first), but soon becomes so perfect and real and right. (And if you are a writer yourself–will make you want to throw your whole manuscript in the garbage). The subjects of this novel are well worn; marriage, career, broken childhoods–but Lauren Groff makes them new and compelling. Here’s my advice if you start this book: keep going, keep going, keep going. This is one of the best books I’ve ever read. 5/5. No wait, 6/5. Outstanding.
Their Review: “[Fates and Furies] is a stunning 360-degree view of a complex relationship… There’s almost nothing that [Groff is] not interested in and her skill set is breathtaking…It’s an incredibly ambitious work, she writes like her hands are on fire.” —Richard Russo, NPR’s Morning Edition
Quoted: She was so tired of the old way of telling stories, all those too-worn narrative paths, the familiar plot thickets, the fat social novels. She needed something messier, something sharper, something like a bomb going off.
If You’re Looking For: Fiction
If You Like: Utopian novels
My Review: I was very excited about the premise and first few chapters of this book, but ultimately found it less than thrilling by the end without understanding why. Fortunately the internet has blessed us with lots of opinions on Goodreads, and I found Joshua R.’s review a great summation of my exact feelings (see below). I understand this is a cop out, sharing someone else’s review of a book you’re supposed to be reviewing yourself, but I am very tired and grouchy and have little desire to discuss this book in any other fashion. As an aside, if I ever publish a book that ends up on Goodreads, I will never, ever read the reviews. How horrifying! I will say this about Perfect Little World: Anytime I finish a book instead of tossing it into the “return to library” pile, I know it deserves at least three stars for holding my attention over sleep, snacking, or Netflix. And really this book had all the makings of a great read. Utopian millennial cult premise with a Wes Anderson writing vibe? Sign me up! But then see Joshua’s review below. 3.5/5 stars.
Their Review: “A perfect little premise with a cursory, yet at times enjoyable, execution. I was excited about this book, a crazy experiment where 10 children are raised by 19 adults in a communal-like home. The book’s first pages outlines the complicated tree of adults and children. This should have been the first clue that this book would have to embrace brevity over depth, given that it is just over 300 pages.
The book starts out the first 150 pages following “Izzy” and sometimes Doctor Preston Grind who is in charge of the family experiment. While the background is nice, it left only 150 pages to discuss 18 other characters and the actual premise of the book, which is the family experiment.
Once you get into the family experiment, there are twists and turns that are enjoyable. However, I was confused which character was what, and nor did I care because they are introduced with very little detail. Maybe the idea is that all the characters get muddled together to make it feel more like a community to the reader. That’s a positive outlook anyway. From my perspective though, by the time I got to the climax(es) that takes place during the experiment, I felt like I neither knew most of the characters nor cared too much what was happening to them.
Overall, it’s a decent, but perhaps overly simplistic, read. Expect to get to know two characters in some detail. But don’t expand a grand adventure into the premise of the book.” – Joshua R. on Goodreads
“Charming. . . . Wilson pulls off his sweet-and-tart tone. . . . The novel delights in the project’s Willy Wonkaesque sense of antic chaos.” – Washington Post
Quoted: It amazed Izzy the way the children rushed through so many complicated emotions without space between each one. Everything rose so quickly to the surface and then subsided, like firecrackers, and what had originally been so jarring to her, their unguarded emotion, now filled her with great comfort, that anything, no matter what it was, would eventually give way to something else.