Sunday, July 20, 2014

Life After Life

by Kate Atkinson
May 22-July17, 2014

metafiction | ˈmetəˌfikSHən |
fiction in which the author self-consciously alludes to the artificiality or literariness of a work by parodying or departing from novelistic conventions (esp. naturalism) and traditional narrative techniques.

Ursula Todd dies. A lot. Pretty much in every chapter of this book. In a more serious look at a Groundhog Day-type of story, Ursula lives a little longer each time and learns valuable lessons along the way. Oh, and she assassinates Hilter before he has a chance to rise to power.
"What if we had a chance to do it again and again, until we finally did get it right? Wouldn't that be wonderful?"
I was immediately drawn into this unusual plot and devoured the first half of Life After Life ... And. Then. It. Started. To. Drag. On. And. On. And ...

Oh, sorry, I nearly fell asleep there. What had the potential to be so interesting and different turned into a too-long history lesson on the Blitz. (I found out afterward that this portion is considered the "dark bleeding heart" of the novel.) I would find myself drifting off as I struggled through each chapter. At the beginning I was on pace to finish this book in about two weeks and instead it took nearly two months. Again, I'm wasting time on the so-so and not moving on to the great. But it always makes me hesitant to quit a book with so much positive hype.

To be fair, I do think a lot was lost on me due to the fact that the author chose to use German phrases and sentences frequently. I know no German. (Sidenote: wouldn't it be great if along with a regular dictionary, the kindle also offered a translation app? Simply hover the cursor over a phrase and get the English translation. Maybe I could get rich off this idea...) Granted, that's my ignorance, but it did get quite frustrating to miss the crux of so many scenes. I guess in the end it isn't the writing or even the overall premise that I didn't like. It just wasn't my cup of tea.

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Friday, July 18, 2014

Never Knowing

by Chevy Stevens
May-July 2014

I really struggled through this one. Immediately, I was turned off by the narrator's voice; it was so affected and forced. Kind of like a bad acting job, but in her defense, she didn't exactly have exciting or intelligent dialogue to work with. The only reason I felt the need to stick it out was because of how much I enjoyed Still Missing.

The main character, Sara, was quite possibly the most annoying protagonist I've read in a long time. Whiny, selfish and just an overall pain in the ass, I would actually find myself clicking my tongue while listening to her antics. Her relationship with her fiancé felt forced. Her attitude with the police was completely obnoxious. None of her relationships were the least bit genuine.

In the same style as Still Missing, Sara is speaking to a voiceless therapist in each chapter. I guess this is Stevens' "thing?" Just because it was successful once does not mean it should be reused. This time it came across as obvious and trite.

The twist at the end was not only expected, but also proved to have no real bearing on the story. It was thrown in as an afterthought. Since I paid money for this audiobook I hung on until the end, torturous as it was. It's funny, I was reading some other reader reviews and it seems it's either a love it or hate it book. The complaints I read were exactly like my own. With so many books out there, I think I need to stop being loyal to random authors. It's one thing to read several titles by an author I consider a favorite, but just because I discover a great new book doesn't mean I need to read an author's complete repertoire. Enough of that.

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