Review: So Much Love

So Much LoveSo Much Love
Author: Rebecca Rosenblum
Publisher: Penguin RandomHouse Canada
Genre/Themes: Contemporary, Mystery
Release Date: March 14th, 2017
Format:Ebook

Synopsis

When a young woman named Catherine Reindeer vanishes without a trace from her small town, those who know her are left to cope with her absence. Moving back and forth from her outer circle of acquaintances to her closest intimates, Rebecca Rosenblum’s first novel reveals how the lives of those left behind can be overturned in the wake of an unexplained disappearance. But at the heart of the novel is Catherine’s own surprising story of resilience and recovery.

When a final devastating loss after months of captivity forces her to make a bold decision, she is unprepared for everything that follows her dramatic escape. Woven throughout are stories about a local female poet who was murdered decades earlier, a woman whose life and work become a lifeline for Catherine during her darkest hours—and who may ultimately hold the key to Catherine’s quest to find solace in the aftermath of unimaginable tragedy.

Review

Unfortunately, I stopped reading this book when I was halfway through it. I tried really hard to become invested in this novel, especially because it’s from a Canadian author, but I was unable to do so.

So Much Love is a debut novel from Rebecca Rosenblum, and it falls into the pitfalls that a lot of debut novels fall into. There are far too many characters in the book. While I understood that the goal was to show how the disappearance of Catherine Reindeer impacted those who knew her, the end result was disjointed. Every chapter was from the point of view of somebody else, but their names were never explicitly pointed out so it took a while to understand who was speaking. I could have gotten past this, but the main problem was there was no cohesion in the story and because we jumped between the (many!) characters, it was hard to gain an understanding of who they were as people.

Another huge issue I had with this book was that it was so dreadfully slow. I don’t mind it when novels are slow and there’s great character development, but this book didn’t have either for me. I couldn’t connect to the characters or the plot and I just didn’t care how the story was going to turn out.

I’m really disappointed that I couldn’t finish this novel because it sounded very intriguing and it has beautiful, poetic writing. I just found myself really disconnected to it. I’m sure this book has an audience out there and it has great ratings, but it just wasn’t for me.

I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This has affected my review in no way.

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Review: The Roanoke Girls

The Roanoke GirlsThe Roanoke Girls
Author: Amy Engel
Publisher: Crown
Genre/Themes: Mystery, Contemporary
Release Date: March 7th, 2017
Format:Ebook

Synopsis

Lane Roanoke is fifteen when she comes to live with her maternal grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, at the Roanoke family estate in rural Osage Flats, Kansas, following the suicide of her mother. Lane knows little of her mother’s family, other than the fact that her mother ran away years before and cut off all contact with her parents. There is a darkness at the heart of the Roanoke family, and when Lane discovers its insidious pull she has no choice but to run, as far and as fast as she can.

Eleven years later, Lane is scraping by in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls with the news that Allegra has gone missing. Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to Osage Flats, determined to find her cousin and assuage her own guilt at having left Allegra behind all those years ago.

Review

When I first read the synopsis for this novel, I knew I was going to enjoy reading it. It has everything I look for in a novel – the mystery of a missing girl, dark family secrets, and a young woman forced to confront her past. Amy Engel is a new author to me, but after reading this book, I will be picking up all of her other works.

This isn’t an easy book to read. It has some really shocking and disturbing subject matter that made me feel squeamish and sick to my stomach for a lot of the book. It’s extremely dark and twisted, but in my opinion, this book is as close to perfect as any book can get. It’s one of my new favourite novels and that’s not an honor I give out lightly.

There are a lot of shocks in this story, but the first one is dropped about 11% through the book. It’s done without any preamble or preparation, and I was taken completely by surprise even though I knew something big was coming. I just didn’t know what it would be and that it would be done so quickly. I liked that the reader knows what the big secret is right away, but it’s not boring since there are still layers that are peeled back as the story continues. The plot moved at a great pace and even though the novel is quiet, it has moments of drama that keep the reader transfixed.

Additionally, the atmosphere of this novel suits the novel so very well. The oppressive heat of the Kansas summer and the beauty and desolation of the Roanoke house combine to create a setting that mirrors the experiences of the characters. Just like the beauty of Roanoke hides something evil and twisted, every beautiful Roanoke girl was hiding something as well. It’s a marvelously written parallel and handled with such grace and eloquence by Amy Engel.

Lane was one of the best characters I’ve ever read. Even though she’s beautiful and sought after, her experiences have left her a mess. She’s self-destructive, selfish, cruel at times, and yet you can’t help but love her. I wanted the best for her and for Allegra. I wanted the best for all the Roanoke girls, and I loved all of them. The secondary characters were also so well-developed and interesting. I also really enjoyed the writing and the layout of the book because we learned about all the Roanoke girls. We understood who they were and we learned some of their secrets too. The one thing I was unsure about was the romantic subplot. I didn’t think I would like it, but I really ended up loving the way it developed. It was everything I wanted for Lane, and the ending was hopeful, which is the best I think you can ask when it comes to a book this tragic.

This book isn’t going to be for everyone. There are going to be people that are so bothered by the subject matter that they won’t be able to get past it to the beauty within. The darkness of the novel will mar everything else, but I really recommend people try and read past it. I want people to read down to the heart of this book, which is about a damaged protagonist trying to find redemption and a little hope. It’s a beautiful story, and one worth reading.

I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review. This has affected my review in no way.

Review: The Glorious Heresies

The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney
The Glorious Heresies
Author: Lisa McInerney
Publisher: Crown Publishing
Genre/Themes: Contemporary, Ireland
Release Date: April 9th, 2015
Format: Ebook

 

Synopsis

One messy murder affects the lives of five misfits who exist on the fringes of Ireland’s post-crash society. Ryan is a fifteen-year-old drug dealer desperate not to turn out like his alcoholic father Tony, whose obsession with his unhinged next-door neighbour threatens to ruin him and his family. Georgie is a prostitute whose willingness to feign a religious conversion has dangerous repercussions, while Maureen, the accidental murderer, has returned to Cork after forty years in exile to discover that Jimmy, the son she was forced to give up years before, has grown into the most fearsome gangster in the city. In seeking atonement for the murder and a multitude of other perceived sins, Maureen threatens to destroy everything her son has worked so hard for, while her actions risk bringing the intertwined lives of the Irish underworld into the spotlight . . .

Review

I tried really really really hard to get into this book, but I just couldn’t do it. There’s nothing inherently bad about the writing or the plot, I just felt no connection to the characters and no desire to know how the story would unfold.

I usually really enjoy stories that are about a multitude of characters all linked together, but this one just couldn’t draw me in fast enough and it felt like a chore to keep reading. I think the fault is completely mine though because everyone else seems to love this book.

I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review. This has affected my review in no way.

Review: The Wolf Road – Beth Lewis

The Wolf RoadSince the Damn Stupid turned the clock back on civilization by centuries, the world has been a harsher place. But Elka has learned everything she needs to survive from the man she calls Trapper, the solitary hunter who took her in when she was just seven years old.

So when Elka sees the Wanted poster in town, her simple existence is shattered. Her Trapper – Kreagar Hallet – is wanted for murder. Even worse, Magistrate Lyon is hot on his trail, and she wants to talk to Elka.

Elka flees into the vast wilderness, determined to find her true parents. But Lyon is never far behind – and she’s not the only one following Elka’s every move. There will be a reckoning, one that will push friendships to the limit and force Elka to confront the dark memories of her past.

This is the second novel in the space of a few weeks that I’ve read with the same premise. Like the book I recently reviewed, A Desolate Splendor, this is a post-apocalyptic novel that’s written in the “hick-speak” that I found completely off-putting, but that’s where the similarities stop.

I was expecting a lot from this novel because the premise sounded so intriguing. I love the idea of a young woman forced to confront all of her realities and go on a grand adventure to figure out the truth about her life. While the plot of this book was adventurous and exciting, I couldn’t enjoy this novel at all due to Elka’s terrible style of speaking and her personality. I understand the purpose of Elka’s way of talking since she was supposed to be poorly educated, but the hick-speak fully repelled me. I’ve read Winter’s Bone as well, and while it didn’t annoy me at all in that novel, it really did in this one. It was just too overdone. This novel also has my least favourite literary device where at the end of each chapter, the narrator foreshadows what will happen next. It completely takes me out of the story.

I also had a hard time warming to Elka. In some ways, she was so knowledgeable, tough, brave, smart, and resourceful, and in other ways, she was unbelievably naive. I only had sympathy for Elka in one scene, and her personality just turned me off the majority of the time. I will admit that all of the characters were well-developed, even the secondary characters. I loved Magistrate Lyon, she was by the far the character I was interested in the most. I’d love to read a novel about her and her experiences, but Elka as a main character didn’t do anything for me.

The one thing I will admit to really liking in this book was the strong female friendship. While Elka and her friend (I won’t mention anything about her due to spoilers) had secrets from each other, the way they supported each other and worked together even while being from different backgrounds was really rewarding to read. I loved the way their friendship was written and developed. It was the one thing that redeemed this book for me.

As things stand, I’m in the minority with my opinions about this novel. Most people who have read it have enjoyed it a lot, and I can understand why. It’s full of action, it has a capable and strong protagonist, and a really solid cast of supporting characters. Personally, I just didn’t connect with this novel, but I recommend anyone who is interested in this book to check it out.

I received this novel from Blogging For Books and Netgalley. This has affected my opinions in no way.

Review: The Truth Commission – Susan Juby

The Truth Commission Open secrets are the heart of gossip – the things that no one is brave or clueless enough to ask. That is, except for Normandy Pale and her friends Dusk and Neil. They are juniors at Green Pastures Academy of Art and Applied Design, and they have no fear.
They are the Truth Commission.
But Normandy’s passion for uncovering the truth is not entirely heartfelt. The truth can be dangerous, especially when it involves her brilliant older sister, Keira, the creator of a bestselling graphic novel series, who has left college and come home under mysterious circumstances, and in complete silence.
Even for a Truth Commissioner, there are some lines that cannot be crossed…

Susan Juby is a Canadian author, which immediately endears her to me. When I first learned about her most recent novel, The Truth Commission, I was really interested in the book. I was mostly interested because I like the idea of a book being written as “creative non-fiction” and I love when a book has footnotes and illustrations in it. It usually adds a new dimension to this novel. Even though young adult contemporary is not one of my favourite genres to read, I wanted to see how this book would turn out.

This book infuriated me, but in the best way. It makes you angry, and it makes you want to talk about your anger, which is a great characteristic for a novel. This book takes place at an art school for high school students, which is a perfect setting for the quirky and offbeat characters in this book. I really enjoyed the teenage characters, and the friendship of Normandy and her best friends, but I was furious with all of the adults in this book. I don’t understand why Normandy’s parents were as passive as they were.

The plot was very unexpected. I thought I knew where the story was going to go, but it was completely surprising to me. This book deals with a lot of teenage issues, but it does it in a non-preachy way. When the truth came out, I was furious, but the ending felt very true and I liked the realism behind it.

However, the best part about this book is the style it’s told in. Instead of feeling gimicky, the idea of this novel being written as a creative non-fiction project with illustrations and footnotes just helps you connect to Normandy a little more. I enjoyed this book a lot, and I’m really happy I ended up picking it up.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Mini Reviews 11

The Devil and Miss Prym – Paulo Coelho

The Devil and Miss Prym

I’ve only read one of Paulo Coelho’s books before, The Alchemist. I really disliked that novel because I’m not a huge fan of philosophy or spiritual books. However, there were a couple more books that sounded interesting by Paulo Coelho, so I decided to add them to my TBR. I did enjoy The Devil and Miss Prym more than I did The Alchemist, but I still wouldn’t classify it as a book that I liked. There were some beautiful passages, and a few things the characters said really spoke to me, but overall, it was a strange novel. I did enjoy the setting however. There was something really beautiful in the descriptions of the small town where this book takes place. I think if you enjoyed The Alchemist, you’ll enjoy this novel too.

The Shining Girls – Lauren Beukes

The Shining Girls

I made a huge mistake listening to this book on audio. I’ve been hearing amazing things about this novel as well as Lauren Beukes’ latest book, Broken Monsters. The problem with the audio was that I absolutely despised the male narrators, and if you dislike the narrator, it sort of ruins the book for you. The story itself is unique and I haven’t read any novels about a time travelling serial killer before. Some of the scenes are very graphic, and sometimes the story is hard to follow (though that could have been a side product of the audio book again). The book is very dark, and the language and choice of words is suitably graphic and violent. I actually liked all the characters, except Harper of course. I felt like I had to know what was going to happen next, and the climax of the novel was great. I recommend the novel for those that like dark, graphic books about murder, but I don’t recommend the audiobook at all.

Beware That Girl – Teresa Toten

Beware That Girl

I’m still not sure how I feel about this book, but the longer I think about it, the more I realize I didn’t enjoy it. I liked the character of Kate, but I despised Olivia. Kate always seemed so tough and sure of herself. Olivia drove me nuts almost immediately. The plot is also a let down. This book was marketed as a thriller, and I would not classify it like that. I don’t know what this book is, but it’s not a thriller. There were some characters that I thought were caricatures and I found myself having to suspend disbelief over and over again. It’s a ridiculous story with ridiculous characters. There are parts that are unsettling and deeply disturbed me, but there’s really nothing likeable or redeeming about this novel. I don’t recommend it at all.

Columbine – Dave Cullen

Columbine

This is an incredibly well-researched novel. I learned so much about the Columbine shooting after reading it. I was quite young when it happened and I never understood the magnitude of the effect of Columbine. I felt so heartsick while reading this book because I can’t imagine the fear and the panic this community went through. I also learned a lot about Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris and their families. I never felt any sympathy for the shooters, but I did for their families and friends. I can’t imagine the hate they must have received after all this happened. Unfortunately, Eric and Dylan have left a terrible legacy, but this book discussed everything related to them and how they came to do such an atrocious thing. This novel is powerful and moving. I teared up multiple times while reading it. Highly recommended.

Dark Places – Gillian Flynn

Dark Places Unfortunately, this book was not as enjoyable as Gone Girl. Gillian Flynn’s sharp and acerbic writing is still on point, but even though the characters were as richly complex as the characters in Gone Girl, I hated them all. I couldn’t stand Libby or any of the members of her family. Lyle amused me at times, but there was nothing redeeming about any of them. They were all such liars and terrible human beings. However, the plot was riveting  and I didn’t see the end coming at all. Gillian Flynn created another incredible book, but I don’t think she’ll ever be able to top the genius that is Gone Girl.

Mini Reviews 10

Death Comes to Pemberley

Death Comes to Pemberley Pride and Prejudice is my favourite novel, so when I heard about this book that takes place after Lizzie and Darcy get married and involves a murder, I was intrigued. I like murder mysteries and I love Pride and Prejudice, but I’m always wary about retellings or re-imaginings of classic novels. This book wasn’t great, but it wasn’t terrible either. It involves characters from the original tale as well as newly introduced ones. The language and style are similar to Jane Austen, but it doesn’t have Jane Austen’s wit or spark in the writing. Relationships are stilted and conversations aren’t always true to the characters. I listened to this book on audiobook and I didn’t really enjoy the narration so that could be affecting my opinion of the book. Overall, it’s an interesting take on the Pride and Prejudice universe, but Lizzy was too much of a secondary character and it was far too strange of a concept. I don’t recommend this novel.

I Was Here

I Was Here I absolutely loved this novel. I listened to this book on audiobook and it’s narrated by my favourite narrator, Jorjeana Marie. I first discovered Jorjeana Marie when she narrated another one of my favourite books, Belzhar. This book is beautifully written with main characters that I actually cared about. The main character, Cody, recovers from her best friend Meg’s suicide and the journey she goes on isn’t the most realistic, but it was impeccably done. I thought Meg’s reaction and her emotions were really honest and raw. I didn’t think this book pulled any punches when it came to how suicide wrecks everyone left behind. The only thing I wasn’t a fan of was the romance in this book. While it wasn’t the main thing in this book, it was unnecessary to the plot. However, this is still one of my favourite books I’ve read so far this year. Highly recommended.

The Girl With All The Gifts

The Girl With All the Gifts

This was one of the books I was looking forward to the most this year, and I knew I’d like it, but I wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I did. This book is beautiful, melancholy, and heartbreaking. The main character of Melanie repeatedly broke my heart in the best possible way. The plot is slow, but there’s still a lot of things that happen. However, the most rewarding part about this novel is the characterization. Everyone in the book is so vividly written, and nobody is fully evil or fully good. Their lives are shades of grey and nobody winds up the same at the end as they are at the beginning. I can’t explain how well this book is written and how much it will make you feel. I know it comes across as just another post-apocalytpic novel with horror movie overtones, but the writing is wonderful, and I highly recommend everyone read it.

Canada Reads 2016

I know I’m entirely too late and Canada Reads finished in March, but I just got around to reading the 5 contenders for the prize. If you’re not aware, Canada Reads is a yearly competition where five Canadian books are chosen, defended by five Canadian personalities (athletes, movie stars, directors, entrepreneurs), and over the course of four days, a book is progressively eliminated. At the end of four days, one book is the champion of Canada Reads.

This year, the theme was “starting over” and here are my thoughts on which book should have won in order from least applicable to the one I think deserved it the most.

5. Minister Without Portfolio – Michael Winter

Minister Without Portfolio I was unable to finish this book. I gave up reading pretty soon because the writing style was terrible. I couldn’t get past how frustrating it was to read and understand. The whole book is written stream of consciousness style, which makes it very distracting to the plot and I found it very difficult to follow the story. There are no quotation marks around the dialogue either, which is another frustrating aspect to this book. I found this book boring, and I abandoned it because I realized I didn’t care about the plot, the characters, or anything else. I’m unsure whether the theme of “starting over” applies to this book, but I assume it would. In the Canada Reads competition, this book was the first to be eliminated.

4. The Hero’s Walk – Anita Rau Badami

The Hero's Walk This was another novel I didn’t finish. Once again, the problem was that the book started so slowly that it never had my attention. I didn’t care about the characters or the plot, which is really sad because it had beautiful writing. The writing was the best part about this novel, but the Indian slang and way the characters spoke grated on my nerves after a while. Yes, it’s very authentic to how Indians talk, but it didn’t appeal to me. Even though I’m an Indian born Canadian, I never connected to this family and I really disliked the book. I think the theme of “starting over” really did apply to this book. Sadly, I had high hopes for it because it was the runner-up in the competition, but it wasn’t for me.

3. Bone & Bread – Saleema Nawaz

Bone & Bread This book had beautiful writing, but that was all it really had going for it. Beena wasn’t a great person, and sometimes I wanted to shake her because she made some really idiotic choices. I never really related to any of the other characters, but I did understand their motivations. The biggest issue I had with this novel was that it didn’t fit the theme of “starting over”. I don’t think Beena really did start over. The other problem was the plot was so long and overwhelming at times that the main point of the novel was lost among all the other things. A lot of loose ends were left at the end of the novel, yet the book was too long for the amount of story it has. This book was the second book to get cut from the competition, and I understand why.

2. Birdie – Tracey Lindberg

Birdie This was the first of the Canada Reads books that I really liked. This novel was so beautifully melancholy, but I felt like it was leading to a very triumphant place. During the debate, some of the people brought up the use of the disjointed timeline, but I thought the use of it was masterfully done. My favourite part of the novel was the relationship between the four women of the novel. It showed the strength and companionship between women of all different types, and how that friendship can be redeeming. While I never fully connected with Bernice because her experiences were so far removed from my own, I sympathized with her. The writing had some well-written passages, but I don’t think there was anything spectacular about it. It was also brought up that sometimes, this book was confusing, which is true, but I still understood what this book was trying to achieve and I think it did. While it did fit the theme of starting over, it wasn’t in a very obvious way. This book was the third to get eliminated from the competition.

1. The Illegal – Lawrence Hill

The Illegal My favourite of the Canada Reads novels was the book that won the competition. It was the most entertaining, the most exciting, and the one I enjoyed reading the most. During the debate, everyone brought up how it was almost like a movie playing out, and it was. There were some very cinematic things about it, but I didn’t think it was to the book’s detriment. The plot was very gripping and there were so many threads that came together in very surprising ways. The characters were all vividly portrayed and they weren’t black or white characters, which I really appreciated. This novel was multi-faceted and while there was nothing spectacular about the writing, it was a cutting political commentary on the refugee crisis of today. I’m not sure if the theme of starting over applies to this novel, but I know it’s the novel I was rooting for.

This was the first year I’d paid attention to the Canada Reads competition, but I’m proud to live in a country where debating about books is a national pastime. I’m proud that we celebrate literature and Canadians of all different backgrounds. I really enjoyed this year’s competition, and I’m very much looking forward to Canada Reads 2017.

Mini Reviews 8

Hotel Ruby – Suzanne Young

Hotel Ruby

The problem with this book is simple. The “twist” is easily guessed as soon as the book begins. I thought it was going to be this really scary novel, with shades of American Horror Story, but instead, the plot was uninspired and borderline ridiculous. I love the idea of a book that takes place in a spooky hotel (always reminds me of The Shining), but this novel’s plot was underdeveloped and the resolution was too simplistic. I didn’t like the main character, whose name I’ve forgotten, and there was a huge case of insta-love, which I also despise in a novel. This book didn’t hold my attention at all.

Little Bee – Chris Cleave

Little Bee

Little Bee is told with two alternating points of view, the view of Little Bee, an illegal Nigerian refugee, and Sarah, a British housewife. I can’t describe how much I loved this novel. The plot was great, but I did have a problem with the character of Sarah. She just seemed very selfish and shallow. She wasn’t a great wife or a great mother, and I think Chris Cleave did a really poor job in writing Sarah as a middle aged wife, mother, and businesswoman. In contrast, Little Bee felt so vivid and her voice was impeccable. This book is both heartbreaking and still manages a humor that had me laughing out loud a few times. Highly recommended.

 

The Queen of the Night – Alexander Chee

The Queen of the Night

After getting about 60% of the way through this book, I couldn’t take it anymore. I’m not invested in Lilliet’s story at all and the plot keeps meandering and the same thing happens over and over again. I hate all the characters. And the WORST part is the writing style, it’s driving me nuts. Such a disappointment.

 

 

 

Belzhar – Meg Wolitzer

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The Bell Jar is one of my favourite classic novels of all time, which is why I was so intrigued by this novel about a troubled teen girl going to a school that taught this book and a magical place called Belzhar inspired by the famous Sylvia Plath novel. I listened to this book on audio and I found myself extremely eager to keep listening every day. There was both a mystery and a melancholy to this novel that I loved. It’s a beautiful book and the writing was so poetic. However, the ending was unexpected and perhaps a little disappointing. I still highly recommend reading it.

Review: City on Fire – Garth Risk Hallberg

City on Fire The individuals who live within this extraordinary first novel are: Regan and William Hamilton-Sweeney, estranged heirs to one of the city’s largest fortunes; Keith and Mercer, the men who, for better or worse, love them; Charlie and Samantha, two suburban teenagers seduced by downtown’s punk scene; an obsessive magazine reporter; his idealistic neighbor; and the detective trying to figure out what any of them have to do with a shooting in Central Park. Their entangled relationships–which stretch from post-Vietnam youth culture to the fiscal crisis, from small-town Georgia to greater L.A.–open up the loneliest-seeming corners of the crowded city. And when the infamous blackout of July 13th, 1977 plunges this world into darkness, each of these lives will be changed forever.

This is a 900+ page behemoth of a novel that weighs at least three pounds. I realize that isn’t a very important fact to start off with, but I want to let you know that I read all 900+ pages of it and dragged it around with me, and I completely regret doing it. City on Fire first came to my attention when I heard that there had been a publisher bidding war over it and it had finally been sold for $2 million. I feel that the person who was responsible for buying this novel is probably kicking themselves because not only was this a commercial failure, it was also a literary one.

The first problem with this novel was that it wasn’t marketed properly. Apart from hearing a few things about it on book podcasts and on a few book websites, there was nothing. It won no awards, and I think the publisher lost faith in it as soon as the reviews that came in were negative. Secondly, this book is far too long. It needed severe editing because the story gets lost in this rambling narrative style that doesn’t do the reader any favours. Thirdly, the blurb on the book is completely misleading. City on Fire is not about a murder, in fact, it’s about everything but the murder.

I could keep going and listing all the problems with this book, but here’s the main problem. It sets out to be this sprawling great American novel, and at the end of the day, it’s a poor man’s Infinite Jest. It tries so hard to capture the reader’s attention that it ends up just being painful to read. The writing isn’t very good and tries to hard to be literary and profound, but I just found it pretentious.

That’s not to say that there weren’t things I really liked about it. I liked the fact that there was a shooting that the book revolved around, but I wanted it to be more about that. I liked that there were all these characters (I love books that have a lot of characters and when their story arcs all intersect with each other), but the problem was that the characters all sounded like the same person. My favourite character was William Hamilton-Sweeney, and I felt like he should have been more central to the novel than he was. I also liked the “interludes” that broke up the different parts of the novel (a letter, a newspaper article, a ‘zine), but I found myself confused sometimes about their purpose in the book.

I don’t know what the purpose of this book was, and I think that I’m going to take a long break from reading more White American authors who are writing sprawling epics about New York and Brooklyn. I don’t think I can read another one of these for a long time.

Sorry Garth Risk Hallberg, I doubt I will be reading your future books.