This book makes some good points about the benefits of a vegetarian or at least ethically farmed omnivorous diet, but it's all been said before. For a better narrated, well written version of this book, I recommend "The Omnivore's Dilemma".
Wong does an amazing job of creating terrifying, heart-pounding supernatural suspense with excellent description and action, then catches you completely off guard by making a joke in the middle of the action. The characters are well drawn out and likable and the story is convoluted but fun to follow along with. I love the fact that Wong really plays with the "unreliable narrator" concept with this novel. The narrator does a great job of conveying the sarcastic-ness of the prose; my only complaint is that his voice for John is a bit too close to Jack Nicholson and can be distracting. I hope we get more from this author in the near future.
The story is compelling and the characters are richly developed. The narrator, Tom Stechschulte, who also did the reading for
As usual, McCarthy abhors an ending - if you've read other novels by this author or saw the theatrical release of
The father character in this story was fantastic - a calm, quiet man who is struggling to provide for his child in a harsh world. As usual, McCarthy manages to say a lot about his characters without them saying much of anything at all.
First of all, a disclaimer: this book drew me into its narrative in a way few books do, but that may be in part because I was so close to subject matter. I was a freshman at Lakewood High School (about 10 minutes north of Littleton and Columbine High) when the shootings happened. Though the attack did not directly affect me, I remember my principal announcing over the intercom, voice cracking, that there had been a shooting at Columbine and that we would be sent home early. I did not know anyone at that school, but many of my friends did - they had friends there, family. My mother came to pick me up from school and all that day and for the next six months I was glued to the news. There was so much confusion and controversy and misinformation in those early months that it got harder and harder to understand what happened. I thought I knew what happened that day, but after listening to this book, I now realize that much of what I thought I knew about Columbine was based on myths and rumors.
The book is very well written - for what is essentially a work of journalism, the author does a fantastic job of adding real human interest to the story line and making even the most mundane pieces of factual data become part of the dramatic retelling of the events as they unfolded. I was especially fascinated by the psychological profiles of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold - given what I am sure were very limited resources, the author does a superb job of getting inside the killer's heads and explaining why they did what they did without simply blaming their actions on a single "hot topic" like so many reporters have done. Without justifying the horrific actions they took and while still giving their victims the respect and sympathy they deserve, the author still manages to get you inside the killers' heads.
I guess you could classify this as a sort of "coming-of-middle-age" story, but to me it was just pure pathos. The writing was rich without being overly verbose and really created scenes, but the vast majority of the scenes in this book were just devastatingly depressing. When the story wasn't terribly sad, I usually found myself either frustrated by the narrator's negativity or angered by his violent reactions (there is one scene in particular, involving a dog, that almost made me quit the book right then and there).
I guess I was caught off guard because the book came highly recommended by one of my favorite comedy writers, so perhaps I would have a less critical opinion of I'd known what I was getting into beforehand. As, as I've already mentioned, the saving grace of this book is that the writing is top-notch.
Just be forewarned that this book deep and dark and you get only the slightest bit of (ultimately unsatisfying) relief from all the ire at the very end.
This story started out very interesting... I thought it'd be a character study on terminal illness. Then the ill man starts seeing visions of an angel of death. "Oh, crap," I thought, "I didn't realize this was a religious book!" Turns out, it was even worse: the book is nothing but a vehicle for Scott Blum to sell his weird New Age philosophies to a mass audience.
You know, I'm getting really sick of authors doing this. It's one thing to have an underlying message to your story; it's quite another thing to start with a message and then half-ass a story around it in order to widen its mass appeal (I'm talking to you, Dan Brown!).
I'd have to say free is too much to pay for this book.
I enjoy supernatural stories, but this book is nothing but a vehicle to promote Fundamentalism (or perhaps more accurately, to attack non-Fundamental beliefs, Christian and otherwise), and as such, the plot is thin and the characters are all two dimensional stereotypes.
I dislike being proselytized to, even more so when it's done deceptively, through the guise of a fiction novel.
If you're Fundamentalist, you'll probably like this book. If you aren't, you'll probably just find it offensive.
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