05 May 2014

All The Light We Cannot See ~ Anthony Doerr

** OK **

Left me in the dark about its rave reviews …
and the fact that it is not sold as YA fiction.

This can’t fail but to remind the reader of The Book Thief (and guess what! I wasn’t fussed about that either … but at least it was labeled as YA).

The narrative seriously sweetens the very real horrors of the war and its sentimental approach sugar coats to an extent that I found annoying, shallow and verging on offensive. It is a fairytale set in dark times (The Quest For The Stone of Immortality, with a blind princess and a dark knight and a fair amount of "happily ever after"). It had an artificial quality that walked the line between innocence and horror, never quite knowing how to present history without any real bad guys (well, maybe except for some nasty bullies at poor Werner’s school).

Characterisation was flat and stereotypical with little development to their depth by the end of the narrative. And was there really a need to follow up on all those cardboard characters at the end? Language was certainly more poetic than prosaic but not much of a reach with vocabulary or concepts.

The disjointed narrative, switching POV and timelines, did not seem to add anything but allowed the author to keep all on a superficial level. It made for a jumpy short chapter carve up of the story. The major themes of the book were a presentation of History Lite.

Ooops … I know I tend to go overboard with my love/hate passions! … Truly, I didn’t hate it … I just don’t share the love and see it a wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing.

04 May 2014

An Untamed State ~ Roxane Gay

 **** RECOMMEND ****

You can't avert your eyes from the emotional wreckage
I guess it wouldn’t be promoted by Haiti Tourism!

This is a cold hard read.  It is unrelenting in its awfulness.  It has a dark, dark heart that is wrapped in pain and despair.  It is sexually violent, misogynistic, an accusation of political and moral corruption and a bleak picture of a spiral into depression.

But with all those evils, with all its brutality, it was an unmissable read.

My main negative was that, as the narrative was very much from the point of view of the victim, Mireille,  some of the other characters and relationships were not fully developed.  And there was an element of emotional manipulation with the use of repetition and highly-polished, overwrought sentences.

01 May 2014

The Bees ~ Laline Paull


Buzz off!  
Hive got better things to read, honey!

Wow!  Was this book overhyped and pushed hard by the publishers!  And for me it totally failed to fulfill the promise of : a dystopian future akin to A Handmaiden's tale, a speculative challenge as in The Hunger Games or a Cinderella retell set in a beehive.  All this and more was promised ... but for me it didn't come through.  It was about bees.  The End.

While there may have been some cute characterisation (plucky Flora) it all wore thin and droned on and on, pushing its religious doctrine.  I shy away from calling it superficial because there was a depth of knowledge provided about the workings of a hive but ultimately the narrative was bland (well, overly sweet actually!).