i really wanted to love this book. i set myself up to rave about it....but i just can't. based on all the reviews i have read (here, on goodreads and otherwise), this book seemed to have all the makings of a story i would love. fantasy, female narrator, gothic horror and the promise of an incredibly talented author.
Caitlin Kiernan is a talented author. this much is true. there are words and paragraphs and portions of this novel that are so beautifully written they begged to be framed as art. but then there were parts that were so...so...hmmm.
let me try to explain.
Imp could be an interesting narrator, but the fact that you never quite know (because of her schizophrenia) what is reality and what is fiction gets quite tiresome very quickly in this novel...an element that never sat right with me -- and never gets resolved. the novel ends in ambiguity with more questions than answers...and not that i need a neat and tidy ending, but i would like to feel some sort of resolution or growth or something that makes me feel like the book ended where it should have ended.
some of Imp's ramblings are so difficult to pick apart and understand, it is frustrating. i dont want to be tired after reading a novel. not to say i don't like reading a difficult book. look at how American Gods left me...thats a difficult book that i found immensely satisfying. but this book felt like all work with no payoff. again, i just felt that i was left with nothing at the end. just confusion and sadness and i was actually rather annoyed. maybe if i had read the physical book instead of listening to this it would have been more manageable?
final note -- no real likeable characters in this. including Imp. i wanted so much to like her. really i did. but i just couldn't.
there is a lot of folk lore and fairy tale in this book, which i did enjoy...but as i said, those portions were few and far between, and couldn't hold the rest of the book up on their unsteady stilts.
honestly i expected more from amy tan. i dont know why. i've only read one other book by her (joy luck club), and i really did enjoy that one...but its been 6 years since i read it -- and 25 years since she wrote it. thats a lot of time, and a lot of other novels, that i've missed. but i guess because she's so prolific, and so popular, i figured that this novel was bound to be another amazing story. i kind of didn't feel that way.
to be frank, i found the story to drag on and on...with all of the main characters making all of the same mistakes over and over and over again. without learning or growing.
Violet is one of the dumbest female protagonists i have ever encountered. i kept grimacing over every choice she made, every person she trusted, every word she uttered. she kept saying 'i'm smart' 'i am clever' 'i could figure a way' -- and i wanted to scream back at here - no you aren't!!! you really really aren't! her story took way to long to unfold. leaving precious little time to get through the other two women's stories, which then felt rushed and cut short. Lulu was semi-interesting....but as i said, i felt i didn't get to really invest myself in her story because it was told so quickly and so near to the end of the novel -- i knew that it was being told only to move the story along to the ending.
obviously i don't know anything about being a courtesan in turn of the century China...how would i. and this story did give you an interesting look into that lifestyle, whether chosen or forced upon a woman. it was extremely graphic in it's sexual encounters -- which didn't bother me -- but i also didn't find those scenes necessarily helped to move the plot along. they were a bit gratuitous.
what frustrated me the most in this novel was the two child kidnappings that took place. the complacency of both mothers was astounding...like they lost an old silk scarf -- not a child from their own womb! there was no lamenting except a few words here and there 'i long for my daughter' 'i think about her all the time.' but that didn't seem like what was going on. it seemed, to me, that each woman was moving along with her life without looking back....without giving any effort to rescue her poor child. perhaps it was the times, or the country they were in, but i found the fact that no recourse was even attempted frustrating and bothersome. then the ending comes, everyone hugs and "we can all live happily moving forward and love each other again" -- it was just ridiculous.
to end, this book was frustrating, and drawn out, and overall disappointing to me.
i was absolutely riveted by this story. while the historical nature of the story seemed like a bit of a departure for Hoffman, the magical quality of the story was shining with every word written. i think Hoffman always has a way with words, and when her story is so captivating and her characters are so tormented the blend becomes a perfect novel.
this book was great. it had just the right amount of intensity and mystery, just the right amount of drama, just the right amount of deviance and brutality, and it was just the right length.
the story was interesting, with empathetic characters who are tortured (excuse the pun) by their past and trying to figure out a way to move on while having to revisit their old wounds. it's fast paced, there's no time wasted in getting to the final climax where all the twists and mysteries are resolved or revealed.
it's a perfect creepy crazy story of female victims trying to figure out the realities and overcome the horrors what happened to them.
intense story with a lot of great twists that really kept it moving. every time you get to a resolution, you realize that it's just the beginning of another crazy turn in the story.
there were definitely some cultural differences in the plot and in the writing, but they didn't detract from the intensity of the story.
as a character, Alex was well developed and had a lot of depth and interest. the way her story unfolds through her narration and through the investigation surrounding her kidnapping is layered in such a way that til the very last few pages you are still guessing...which makes for a good mystery.
worthy read for people who like this type of novel.
i'm not a sports person, and i'm not really a non-fiction book person...and yet, i found this story interesting and really quite enjoyable.
it's an American pride story, an underdog story, a story of resiliance and hope and and brotherhood. it was not only enlightening and educational, but really exciting. it's a piece of our nation's olympic history that I had no idea about but am glad that i now do.
grisham is a good writer. definitely keeps you interested and introduces you to a vast and various group of characters. while the book was pretty predictable (both hubby and i figured out what was going on around chapter 3), it wasn't boring..and i didn't mind watching the story unfold in the courtroom.
for my first foray into grisham i guess it was a bit underwhelming, but this guy obviously churns out novels with interesting characters and well thought out stories that are really perfect to translate into films.
i loved this book.
the tried and true detective story as told my the master Stephen King just works.
i love King's writing, whether or not it involves the supernatural aspects. the story delivers. the characters deliver. it kept me on the edge of my seat wondering whether good or evil would indeed prevail, you never know with King; and i loved every thrilling second of it.
what a satisfying novel.
family has turmoil. family goes on two week vacation to Mallorca. family forced all together to confront turmoil. family comes out the other side.
i rooted for this family. i wanted everything to turn out ok. every single character was spot on...each of them had parts to love, and parts to hate. just like a regular family. the writing was easy, floating along between characters unraveling all the complexities of each of them...
this was cute, but no eleanor and park. kinda silly, kinda obvious...but cute enough.
Rainbow Rowell writes this type of book really well.
i can safely say that this has been my favorite book that i have read this year...and probably up there in my top reads in the past few years. this book was so heavy. and so amazing.
what an incredible cast of characters. most of which you rooted for even though they weren't all that 'good' in a conventional sense. there was such a deep sadness that rooted through every single person the story encounters. sadness and despair. each of the families (children) that the main character, Pete, is tasked to help as a social worker are desperate and depressed sometimes depraved.
i don't know what to say. i loved it so much it was one of those books that i never wanted to end.
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