I definitely had mixed feelings about this book.
The first few minutes of "Oskar's" narration sounded like an example of a poster child with Asperger's. But what he was saying was intriguing, so I continued listening.
As the book progressed, I found that I really did not like any of the characters. I could not relate to any of them, and I did not understand why they would withhold crucial information and why they would leave so many things unsaid, while acknowledging that they did this sort of withholding. I also had a lot of trouble understanding why they would do some of the things that they would do. The author also did indicate why his characters would behave so peculiarly. I also felt that the three main characters, whose narration we hear in three different voices, had serious psychological problems. I also dislked the fact that Oskar's mother was depicted as such a nonentity.
But in spite of that, I still kept listening because I really wanted to know what was going to happen with all these characters. Isn't that weird? The plotting and the story saved the day for me, and kept me in suspense until the very end.
I also found the audio production to be very well done. The voices of all three characters were very distinct, and two of them sounded age-appropriate. Oskar sounded a little older than he was, according to the book, but that probably couldn't be helped. I don't know how many narrators there are who can simulate an 8- or 9-year-old boy.
Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
This book is all about the voice of its protagonist, Oskar, a bright, precocious boy who seems to have a touch of Asperger's sydrome. His quest to find a lock that matches a mysterious key belonging to his dead father, who was killed in the 9/11 attacks, seems initially both pointless and poignant, but his determination soon enlists the reader in finding out what happens next. There's a keen awareness to Foer's portrayal of a child's wisdom, naivete, stubborness, fragility, infuriatingness, and sympathy, and makes Oskar's perspective in respect to dealing with grief perhaps a more honest one than that of an adult. He's unwilling to settle for inadequate answers, and even if there aren't answers, he doesn't give up searching. The book is touching, funny, insightful, and full of oddball characters who make their own unique contributions to Oscar's mission, its symbolic intent finding a connection in their own lives.
I thought the book was a bit less involving, though, in the sections where it ventured into the distant past, and offered up ghostlike conversations between Oskar's grandparents. These sections have an emotional connection to the main story, of course, but the lack of much logical one somehow kept them from resonating that much for me. They seemed a bit self-indulgent on the part of Foer.
Still, this is a moving work, and Foer skillfully walks the line between not cheapening his book with an easy ending, and providing a resolution for Oskar's "key" quest. A great effort from a promising young author.
Mountain biking, surfing, skiing, literature, philosophy, psychology, theology and my ipod.
Generous three stars because I got half way through before giving up. The plot is limited to a boy seeking the lock that his father left behind. It is from the perspective of a boy--I guess to justify juvenile humor. Not entertaining enough to continue.
The reader for the character of Oskar was excellent. He reads in his own, normal voice (thankfully) but with subtle childlike inflections. The character of Oskar was also well-conceived and entertaining, even if unrealistically intelligent for his age. Unfortunately, the reader for the grandmother's character is guilty of over-acting. She seemed to be trying for an acting award.
I loved Jonathan Safran Foer's first novel "Everything is Illuminated," but he fails to match his former brilliance here. The story has many sweet and heartbreaking moments...and then many more, and more on top of that. It becomes relentlessly cloying; eyerollingly sappy.
The parts narrated by the grandmother and grandfather just don't work well. They don't advance the plot, which is already dangerously thin. JSF seems to be experimenting with an almost lyrical style in these sections. But if he wanted to write a poem, he should have written a poem. I'm not sure many readers appreciate a novel-length exercise in language noodling.
This was a very interesting story of a child and his family's reaction to the death of a family member through the disaster call 9/11. It made me smile, cry, wonder and cheer the boy on. Great listen!
Jonathan Safron Foer paints the reader into a landscape of sharing the horrors experienced and unspeakable grief shared by the characters woven together in this story.
Oskar's journey of finding truth ties the recent loss of his father with the tragedy of his grandparents' lifelong journey of denying their own truths related to their shared losses experienced as teenagers.
It is captivating!
This novel is written from the perspective of three different characters, all of whom have experienced trauma and all of whom live with some level of dysfunction. I found myself thoroughly enthralled in each of the characters and despite the incredible sadness each of these characters faced throughout their life times, I felt myself wanted to know what happened next on their crazy ride (vs. curling up in a ball and crying with them). I whole-heartedly recommend this book!
I can understand why this book ended up on Audible's list of "rants and raves." There are parts of the narrative and some of the characters that are truly enchanting. At other times, I truly wondered why the author was off on a particular tangent as some of the detractors in reviews had described.
Still, the book is worth the credit and the balance comes down on the rave side. The boy is too delightful to pass up just because grandma and grandpa are sometimes tedious.
I love love loved listening to the gifted little boy's part; other reviews I read made it sound like it was the voices of the other readers that brought down people's reviews, but I thought their readings were well done -- it was the characters themselves who needed help. Oh, so much help. I was very pleased to stick it out to the end, but I cried too much on the way there.
A side note -- this is the only book I've come across that's made the Dresden bombings real enough for me to understand.