Tag: Boring Book

The Fire Child, by S. K. Tremayne

27874165You know this story. You’ve read this cliche before. A not-so-well-off photography professor Rachel Daly* meets an extremely wealthy man several years her senior. David Kerthen** is widowed; his wife Nina died in one of the mines on his thousand-year-old family property. He now lives with his eight year old son Jamie***. Rachel falls in love with David (of course) and even more so with his pale-faced, raven-haired son. Following a whirlwind romance, the two marry and Rachel leaves her poverty-stricken London life behind (to the envy of her friends) and moves to the Carnhallow House with David.
The Kerthens are an old family, who owe their wealth to their luck with the mines in the area. They were cruel, and did not care about those who lost their lives in the mines.
Caught in the memories of an old world is David’s mother Juliet. Through her, Rachel learns of the legend of the fire children. Soon after, Rachel’s stepson Jamie begins to act strange. He’s convinced that he’s a fire child and that his mother is coming back. Rachel herself begins to feel Nina is in the house – she can sense her presence, see her, smell her perfume, hear her voice, and what not.

*Has sad eyes
**Is a “‘broken’, womanizing lawyer”, who’s interestingly very much devoted to his first wife (no sign of any womanizing) and is very inarticulate for a lawyer.
***Kid can’t spell “write” but can spell “dinosaur”

The beginning of the story felt a lot like Rebecca to me. In fact, there’s this line in one of the chapters “Last night he’d [David] dreamt of Carnhallow again.” which, I know I’m probably looking for connections here, but it sounded a lot like the opening sentence of Rebecca to me. But that feeling quickly passes.

At the outset, let me mention, this is not a bad story. On the whole. But it’s been executed poorly (“poorly” being the kindest word I can think of right now). For one, it drags on and on and on and then leads to a laughably rushed ending. Why does it drag on? Because every third paragraph is a description of the sun and the sea and the mines (or, in the latter part, the snow and the sea and the mines) At one point, a character goes on to describe in detail the view from a supermarket. Just… why? We get it, it’s lovely, move on. Repetitions aside, there are these annoying inconsistencies throughout the book. I may sound nitpicky, but on one page Rachel tells us she does not tan, but she describes her “tanning shoulders” a few pages later. Minor detail, yes, but such things rub me the wrong way.

Everyone in this book is an overthinker and an overreactor. Either I’m missing chunks of the story, or these people are plain crazy. They go from state A to conclusion Z without analyzing (or at least merely considering) B to Y in between. For example, when Juliet describes the legend of the fire children, Rachel reads a lot into it and acts terrified. I went back to Juliet’s line a few times to check what I missed. Why did I feel Rachel’s reaction was unwarranted? Similarly, on what basis did David hire a detective to get details of his wife’s past? What convinced him she was hiding something? And here’s another inconsistency – he tells her to go through Nina’s old notes to restore the house, but when she does so, he’s convinced she’s snooping and trying to get him into trouble. So much goes unexplained, and yet we’re given such unnecessary detail about the bloody sunshine, FFS!

(Oh, by the way, the detective’s report adds even more cliches and stereotypes to this already unoriginal set of characters)

Gonna sound nitpicky again – my copy is an ARC, so I understand this will probably be fixed in the final – but there, were, bloody, commas, everywhere! It got so annoying, pausing where no pause was needed.

Now, why I said this is not a bad book is because there were parts of it that were genuinely spooky – and that’s more than what I can say for the new crop of horror/thriller writers. But nothing ties up properly – the motivations, the backstory, none of it. It is all implausible, and I can’t, for one second, believe the plot in its current form. It’s amateurish to the worst degree. All that foreshadowing (again, done badly) leads to no resolutions and by the end, you have a lot of unanswered questions looking up at you like a bloody hare in your hands.

Note: I received an ARC from Netgalley. This review is honest and unbiased.

Orange is the New Black, by Piper Kerman

7989831So! Prison sounds like fun! Wait, what? No, that can’t be right. It’s prison; it’s not supposed to be fun.

Before I go any further, let me confess that I have not watched the popular TV series of the same name. Not one episode. But I have reason to believe (because I know people who are fans) that the plot of the show deviates sharply from the source material. So, if you are a fan of the show or are planning to watch it, I suggest you skip the book, because the book is such a let down.

At first, I thought the title was an attempt at being ironic or funny. But if Piper Kerman has a sense of humour, it doesn’t really come through and then the title starts to look shallow and unintelligent. We are not talking about a ramp show or color of the year. It’s prison, FFS.

It’s surprising how Piper Kerman describes a place that we assume (and more or less know) to be grim and gruesome in a way that it sounds like summer camp. You actually think, “So, it’s cool, then? Like, a dorm at college?” I understand that this is a memoir, and Kerman has every right to write the way she saw things happen, from her perspective alone and all that. But “her perspective alone” is so near-sighted and self-centred that I can’t believe this girl’s even being real. She has been arrested for smuggling drugs in her early twenties (something she seems to feel no guilt or remorse for anywhere in the book, by the way). The trial goes on for a decade because there are so many others involved (such as Kerman’s ex girlfriend because of whom she got caught in all of this), after which she goes into the Danbury prison. Everyone welcomes her with open arms because she’s (as she repeatedly reminds the reader) white, blond, upper middle class. All the wardens keep telling her how surprised they are that a nice white girl like her is in a “place like this”. If she was trying to make a statement against the racist attitudes inside the prison, she does not come off as convincing – she comes off sounding like a snooty, racist person herself. The other prisoners often stick to their own racial groups, but everyone is friends with Kerman, because, oh, so lovable blond Barbie.

Now, I know families can be deadly supportive. Hell, they’re there even when you don’t need them. But I find it hard to believe that all her family members were so supportive and loving when they came to know of her crime. Like they’re almost proud to have someone go to jail. Wait, that’s an actual statement, in fact. Paraphrasing from the chapter Mothers and Daughters, “My mother was proud, despite the fact that I was in prison, because the other inmates thought we were sisters.” I need a moment.

By the way, did you know that they made crafts and celebrated Valentine’s Day in prison, with homemade cards and all? Yeah, me neither. Sounds like fun though. In one chapter, Kerman refers to prison as a “rotten” place. I was, quite frankly, taken aback. So far, nothing she had written gave me the slightest indication that it is such a rotten place (apart from my own common sense regarding prisons). I am shocked! Maybe your writing should’ve reflected that more, instead of telling me how many lovely items and books you regularly get in the mail from people you barely know, and how much people envy your love life.

And may I offer some advice for your next book (although, I hope there isn’t a next book) – EDITING! I don’t think any editor saw a draft of this. In fact, I think this may well be the first draft!

And the worst, worst thing about this book – I swear to the heavens, it is SO boring. This is one of the most boring books I have ever read. It’s torture how boring this is!

Quite frankly, reading the book makes me want to watch the show. How could the creators take something so poorly written and turn it into something that’s become so popular. My curiosity is thoroughly piqued.

Goodreads | Amazon

A Bunch Of Thoughts I Had While Reading Raymond Carver’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Love

Disclaimer: This is not a review.
rain-and-a-book-raymond-carverIf you follow me on Instagram, then you probably know I was really excited about this book.*

Every time someone tells me he/she is a voracious reader, then proceeds to gush about the latest 100-buck newsstand bestseller, I groan inwardly. Then they ask me if I have read it, and I say no with a polite smile, while snootily thinking how I’m “used to better literature” I ask myself if I am turning into that horrible person called a book snob.

Raymond Carver’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Love has proven to me without a doubt that I am not. I am still sighing with relief.

I’d recommend this book to fans of Haruki Murakami. Dark, magical realism? Haha, no. Just mass confusion. Like I said after I’d read Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, I did not get the purpose of these stories. I like my stories to be contained in well-defined plot-lines. Sometimes I even like open-ended stories if they are satisfying in other departments. I like anything that does not make me go, “Yeah, so?”

On the other hand, master storyteller, Mr. Carver has left me baffled, and feeling, if I may say so, quite unsophisticated. It appears to me I do not appreciate the fine art of sparsely constructed sentences or, erm, episodic stories or vignettes about boring individuals. While the stories in Murakami’s book had some creepy elements, Carver’s stories have an undercurrent of bitter grimness. Old couples who seem unwilling to go on with their grating, lonely lives, drinking their way through it all, bored and cynical.

And here I am, just, you know, yawning.

Whether Carver’s stories are an acquired taste or not is not for me to decide. He seems madly popular (this book has a rating of 4.24 on Goodreads, if ratings mean anything to you) and I feel like someone the bouncer kicked out of a club. No doubt, the sparse narrative and conversational dialogue adds to its appeal, and are perhaps the reason the critics love this one, but I hate it when I turn the page over and see something’s ended when I was most definitely expecting more.

What am I missing?

Goodreads | Amazon

*I’m weeping; I feel like my book instinct cheated me.

False Ceilings, by Amit Sharma

28696067

We seek to make our own lives complicated, because we are drawn and addicted to drama, pathos, chaos and noise. And thus we turn simple tales to highly charged, emotional tragedies or comedies.

As it turns out, I have made yet another error in judgment while choosing my weekend read. But I will hold back my characteristic harshness and trademark vitriol. Why? For the simple reason that I could have chosen not to read it. Yet I did. And because I did, I must now speak about it. But it’s not nice to act all tart about the book, when it was my own fault that I chose to read it in the first place.

Another reason why I’m holding back is the fact that False Ceilings is a highly ambitious novel. I don’t mean it succeeds, but I cannot deny that ambitious is what it is or tries to project itself as. At least, it’s not a run-of-the-mill love story, and for that we should thank our stars, I must say!

The narrative follows a non linear sequence, a technique that I’m quite fond of [aside: if you think you’re reading a “but” at the end of that statement, you’re right. But tarry a while, my friend, we’ll get to it]. Due to this, I cannot properly summarize this book for you. Well, that, and the fact that there are way too many main characters, all just strewn about in the book like scrambled eggs. The sequence of events takes place from 1930 to 2062. While the story begins with one of the main characters, Aaryan, who seems to have lost his marbles, that part of the narrative is set in 2001. If I were to try summarizing, I should give you a glimpse of Shakuntala’s life – she is born in 1930, to a rich builder named Kanshi Ram. His mother, disappointed that his wife, Kusum, did not give birth to a son, keeps torturing and taunting everyone in the family. Kusum dies giving birth to her second child, a boy. Contrary to the custom of the time, Kanshi sends his daughter to a convent, so that she gets a proper education. However, soon after she turns ten, Kanshi dies in an accident. She decides to leave the convent and goes to live with her uncle. A few years later she gets married, and on the day of the wedding ceremony, her uncle hands her a “secret” and asks her to use it wisely. Does she? Doesn’t she? Who does? What is it?

Nothing turns me off of a book quicker than poor editing. In addition to that are those sentences that leap at you like artificially ripened fruit – the ones injected with a word from the thesaurus that is just slightly… off. Most importantly, it is the little things that matter. Even if the sentences are laid out perfectly one after the other, one misplaced preposition just turns the whole thing around. I know I make a lot of typos on my blog, and sometimes misspell words, or leave some out, leaving you to wonder who am I to judge? But the reason is, I don’t pay an editor to look for typos, and I rarely go through my posts before hitting Publish. Hell, I’m lazy, so sue me! But a book isn’t like that. It has a wider reach. It has a responsibility, so to speak. So when I turn to the first page and I see the word “Acknowledgment” without the “s” at the end, when clearly there were more than one person being acknowledged, I get a wee bit irked. And everything that follows is like an annoying hiccup in my head. A sentence  that does not quite sound right or even outright wrong makes for some tedious reading. As a reader investing my time in someone’s work, I don’t want to be on the receiving end of something so tedious, so hiccoughy, like a jagged cut in a piece of wood.

Now let’s talk about why I called this an ambitious work that did not succeed. It had the ingredients of ambition. But a few things must complement that ambition: complexity, research, layers. For a book set in the pre-independence era, one that records the horrors of partition etc, the right atmosphere needs to be set through the narrative – which isn’t. Sure, a paragraph about bloodshed, but that’s it. Secondly, even in the later parts, a simple mention of when Maggi noodles or colour televisions made an appearance in India does not constitute as research. Show me details, show me intricacies.

Why else couldn’t I be convinced of the setting? The dialogue. We have people from the 1930s and people from the 2060s. They all sound the same. None of them even remotely sound like they belong to the eras they’re supposed to belong to. The dialogue’s potential in a novel has not been utilized at all in this case.

There are several instances where I felt the chronology was all wrong. For instance, Shakuntala’s father dies in 1940. An actual sentence from the book reads, “A few months later, the Quit India Movement begins in the year 1942.” Let’s forget the syntactical blunder in the sentence for a minute, and only look at the timeline issue – how are 1940 and 1942 a “few” months apart? Something similar happens  between 1942 and 1946. Four years. Separated by a “few” months. Apparently. Is this science fiction set in some parallel universe?

I could go on – in 1984, Aaryan is 5. He spends three years in school with his friend Priya, assuming his age to be 8 by the end of said three years. The year should be 1987. He is an excellent student and participates in all kinds of extra curricular stuff [aside: in my personal opinion, I find him too young to be as competitive as he is described] However, his family moves away from Priya and the school in 1986. So much anachronism that I have a headache trying to keep track of all these events.

Coming back to language, the sentences sound too literal (example: “she pointed her nose to the sky” “He uprooted his hair from his head” uprooted? really?). Too literal. There are no idioms, no style, no phrases. It’s all thrown in the face.

And now back to the plot. Why did I keep reading if I kept groaning after every few sentences? Well, I now know there’s some sort of secret, might as well find out what it is, yes? But the climax left me rather deflated. I don’t wanna give out any spoilers, but once you reach the climax you say, “What? Is that it? You built all that up for this?” Then you realize there were hints right in the beginning. There usually are, of course, but this one leaves you meh. Which explains the line I started this review with – by the end of this book, you feel everyone involved was just being irrationally over-reactive. Reminded of those Indian soaps where they repeat a word thrice and then a loud clap of thunder is heard.

Overall, a giant plot that topples on itself without the support of the right legs to stand on. You may still pick it up if you wanna read something slightly different from the usual fare. But do I recommend it? I’d like to safeguard my credibility as a book reviewer, so no.

Goodreads | Amazon

Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this book from The Tales Pensieve.

 

 

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, by Lisa See

“We are expected to love our husbands from the day of contracting a kin, though we will not see their faces for another six years. We are told to love our in-laws, but we enter those families as strangers, as the lowest person in the household, just one step above a servant. We love our parents because they take care of us, but are considered worthless branches on the family tree. We are raised by one family for another.”

In sixth grade, we were taken for a visit to the National Gallery of Modern Art in Mumbai. They were having a historical exhibit at the time (they even had Egyptian mummies – I honestly don’t know/can’t remember if they were real or just dummies, but I wanna believe they were real, so please don’t take this away from me). Among other things, I remember a painting quite vividly. It was a painting of Chinese women with their feet bound. It was a strange painting though, and I’ll tell you why in a minute.  In the painting, the women had their legs (legs, not feet) tied up like they were rope! These women had knots where there ankles should have been.We were told they did this so their feet never grew beyond a certain size and this intrigued me. Or, more accurately, I should say, this bothered me. Which is why I remember the painting to this date.

Bulisa-see-snow-flower-sreeshadivakaran-rainandabookt the funny thing is, I can’t remember how Snow Flower and the Secret Fan ended up on my TBR list. It’s just been there since, forever! The book presents the true picture of foot binding – so unlike the painting I saw, but all the more brutal. The feet are bound in cloth, and the kids (yes, they do it to little girls) are forced to walk with their toes underneath them so that the bones break and… do you want me to go on? Why did they do it? To enter into “good marriages.” What did marriages have to do with breaking the bones in little girls’ feet? Read this for a brief summary. Warning: May piss you off.

Anyway, back to Lisa See’s book.

Genre: Historical, Cultural

Summary: In 19th century China, when women were treated like dirt, the protagonist Lily finds a “laotong“, Snow Flower. A laotong relationship is a lifelong friendship between two women, and is considered more sacred than that between a husband and wife. Lily and Snow Flower communicate using the secret Nu shu script used by Chinese women. They even have their feet bound at the same time, are born in the same year (the year of the horse) and are matched on almost all points, except social standing. At first, Lily believes herself unworthy of Snow Flower, because the former belongs to a family of farmers, whereas the latter’s family is quite well off. The story is narrated by Lily as an old woman, and she begins the tale by implying something went terribly wrong with their friendship. It’s all very tragic.

Good: Had this been a work of non-fiction, it would have been worth devouring! The detail, right to the smallest dot, is fantastic. A lot of research has gone into this book. So fascinating – the secret script, the folk tales and songs, the culture and customs, even the horrid-sounding foot-binding.

Bad: When the narrator tells you something bad is gonna happen, as a reader, you would get this sense of foreboding. That was absent in this case. I knew something was gonna wrong, but it made me go, “Oh yeah? So?” I just couldn’t bring myself to care. You reach the 40% mark before the story actually begins. So you tend to wonder what were you doing up until this point. It’s really slow, and I didn’t expect to finish it for another two days. I did, somehow. I don’t even feel a sense of accomplishment or anything. I just feel like taking a break from books! Happens, when a narrator is particularly drony.

Ugly: Look at that quote I’ve shared in the beginning. Almost every page has at least one paragraph that tells you women are worthless. I mean, okay, I get it, it was the “system” or whatever. But this is a work of fiction! You can turn your heroine around, you know! Make her question the “system”! There’s another popular work of historical fiction, also set in the nineteenth century, but in a different part of the world – Gone With The Wind. The heroine of that book was Scarlett O’Hara and believe me, if she were the heroine of this one, this would be a completely different book, a mindblowing one. She didn’t take the system lying down, I don’t know why Lily did. Or Snow Flower, for that matter. Snow Flower was built up as a strong character, one just waiting to fly off. But she didn’t. Not only that, Lily’s voice almost sounded like she wanted to be treated like crap. Like, all women should be grateful for being treated like crap. It was terrible. The sheer repetition of the words, “We are women. This is our fate.” will make you wanna put a bullet through your mouth. Or six.

I know this book has a high rating on Goodreads and seems to be wildly popular (though I still can’t remember how it ended up on my TBR!) So I may be entirely wrong here in my interpretation. But I can’t overlook the fact that this was so slow, so cliched, so boring, so irritating. Again – it should have been non-fiction. My rating is a reflection of that alone – the research and the depiction of history.

Rating: 2.5/5

Goodreads | Amazon

 

A Head Full Of Ghosts, by Paul Tremblay

22999175Plunging right into it. No preamble. Not now, kids, I just can’t be bothered.

Summary: Merry Barrett narrates the story of her sister Marjorie’s battle with schizophrenia as a teenager. Merry, now 23, was eight years old when she began to notice the changes in her fourteen year old sister and hear her scream at night telling “them” to “get out of her head”. Marjorie, who once entertained Merry with stories, now rarely invites the younger girl to her room. When she does, she tells her dark, macabre-tinted stories that leave Merry upset. When the medication stops working (or Marjorie simply refuses to take any), their fanatically religious father decides to take the kids to church and also decides to get Marjorie exorcised. Their mother scoffs, but he disregards her. In addition to bringing a priest home, he also decides to make a reality show about his daughter’s condition, titled “The Possession.”

Format: The story is told from Merry’s POV. The book is divided into three parts and each part begins with a chapter written in a blog post format, followed by a chapter where Merry is interviewed by the bestselling author, Rachel, who’s writing a book about the Barrett family and the TV show they were once part of. This is followed by chapters in which Merry describes what “really” happened.

The Good: About 1/3rd of the book was eerie. While the “scares” employed mere shock-and-disgust techniques, the atmosphere of the first part was definitely creepy. The book pits science against the church and how many people suffering from mental illness do not get the medical aid they need because their families are busy believing that they’re “possessed”. The story also questions deep-rooted patriarchal belief systems, and a lot of questions the “possessed” Marjorie poses to the priest make you go, “Yeah, take that, patriarchy!”

The Downright Terrible: Let’s forget about the shock tactics (warning: involves vomit, faeces, menstrual blood), let’s also forget the eerie atmosphere the first few chapters established. What does the book have to make the reader finish the book? Questioning patriarchy is great, all thumbs up, but why clobber the reader on the head with it? Since this is a horror book, shouldn’t Marj be doing scarier things than engaging in discourse with the priest? That is all she does. Kid, the demon in you talks way too much. As a result, there isn’t any, how shall I put it…  excitement? Then there’s adult Merry’s super annoying blogger voice. She explains every. Single. Thing. Where’s the subtlety? Where’s the Show, Don’t Tell? And she makes too many references to popular films/books of the horror genre. And may I add, she is SO enthusiastic (so fake). The whole blog post format was unnecessary (the posts seemed like unflattering fillers) and could have been completely avoided. It adds absolutely nothing to story – only takes off the burden of “thinking” from the reader. The 23 year old Merry repeatedly mentions she does not remember much and the show, hearsay, fading memories have all added to what really happened. But when the POV shifts to 8 year old Merry, she gives scene-by-scene, day-by-day descriptions of events, right down to the clothes she was wearing.
The worst of all was the ending – I had a doubt about the narrator from the beginning, which has grown a bit in size since I found myself on the Acknowledgments page rather abruptly – no explanations whatsoever. I cannot mention the doubt here cos it could be a possible spoiler, but not knowing isn’t really killing me either. Basically the ending was jumbled and underwhelming and I honestly don’t care if I’m right or wrong at this point.

Goodreads | Amazon

PS: Never falling for this man’s recommendations again. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me!

Luckiest Girl Alive, by Jessica Knoll

In a bowl, mix Opal Mehta (and every high school chick-lit ever) and The Devil Wears Prada. Add a dash of rape and blend well. Then add a few ounces of needless violence. Season it luckiest-girl-alive-jessica-knoll-sreesha-divakaran-rain-and-bookwith terrible prose. And voilà!

Needless. That is the only word that comes to mind when I think of Jessica Knoll’s Luckiest Girl Alive. First and foremost, when you look at the front cover, you see a lot of tiny text, but ‘Gillian Flynn’ stands out –  attention grabbing, that. Here’s the thing. A lot of authors these days are described as the next already-published-established-famous authors. Recently I got two other books, and both the authors were called “the next Stieg Larsson.” Another book’s promo tagline said “it will make Hogwarts look like playschool” (I already hate this book; I don’t even need to read it). Something about needing these borrowed legs to stand on tells you a little bit about the books themselves.

Luckiest Girl Alive is just another high school tale desperately trying to pass itself off as adult fiction. It is also as boring as a book can get. When I turned 29, I thought to myself there is no reason anymore for me to not ditch a bad book – as there are just way too many good books in the world. Old habits die hard I guess – I felt since I’d already invested enough time to reach the 12% mark, might as well reach the end and see how bad it gets.

Genre: Boring (yeah, that’s a genre)

Summary: TifAni (that’s how it’s spelled) is an editor at ‘The Women’s Magazine’, which is a prestigious… umm… women’s magazine (like the author herself). She also writes pieces on spicing up your sex life. She’s engaged to Luke, a filthy rich douchebag. Speaking of douchebags, TifAni is a horrible person. Like, really insufferable mean ass bitch. She is only engaged to Luke cos of the money cos her mother brought her up to believe a woman’s worth depends on whom she marries. TifAni has two best friends whom she hates. Basically she hates everyone. I’ve read till the end of the book and it never did explicitly explain why. Nor implicitly. She keeps chanting “I have a horrible secret.” But turns out – wait, we’ll get to it. Her catholic school tells her parents to transfer her to a different school following a weed smoking incident. She moves to a school in a posh locality and desperately tries to fit in. She gets accepted by Hilary and Olivia (the “HOs” (don’t ask)) but gets raped by the guys in the group. She later moves to college and in order to reinvent herself, changes her name to Ani (how many times have I read that before?)

Characters: TifAni/Ani, already described above. She is described as tiny in stature with large breasts. She has two friends, Nell, and another woman whose name I have already forgotten, but who is rather flat chested. Or wait, maybe it was Nell that was the flat chested one. Really, a lot of mention of boobs and the lack of them cos Ani does not have much else going on for her. TifAni was raped in high school by the “popular” guys and she wonders till the last chapter if it was actually rape (it was). But that’s not her “secret”. You’d think her mean nature was because of this, but it is not; she’s implied to be a bad human being even as a teenager, which is why I said we don’t know why she is intentionally shown as this villainous person. Her mother is your stereotypical, loud-mouthed mother-of-ungrateful-teenager woman with gold-digger tendencies. She lavishly spends her husband’s money and her only aim in life is to get Ani married to a rich guy so that she can keep up her appearance of wealth. Ani’s teacher in school is Andrew Larson, who is, later in the story, a client of her fiance Luke. He thinks she is a gem of a person, an angel, all those things, though I don’t see what he does in her (the boobs, maybe?)

The writing: Is laughably amateurish. Think about it, the only plot device in this book is having your main character repeat the words “I have a secret.” Unless this is the first book you’ve picked up in your life (in which case, my sympathies), you know nothing kills suspense more than those exact words. There is also something to be said about books that never make you reach for the dictionary – some books can create beautiful prose with the simplest of phrases; others, like this one, makes the writer look like he/she doesn’t know what they’re doing. That is not to say Knoll does not try to embellish her sentences, but they turn out hilarious bad. For instance: Sleep exploded over me like a meteor shower.
I don’t understand the need to try so hard to make her a bad person (she insults a waitress for no good reason, she draws on a colleague’s white pants when she’s not looking etc) – what is the reason to make her so bad? And why try so hard to imply something so pointlessly? If you’re making someone an out-and-out dislikeable character, at least give it a reason or make them interesting (like in The White Tiger, for instance or Voldemort) There are instances where Ani spouts wisdom about “all women”. I can’t make out if that’s what the author thinks about “all women” or just the character she created, but, to whoever it may concern – please speak for yourself. There are also some parts where whole paragraphs get repeated from a previous instance. As if the author thought when the reader reaches the middle, he/she might forget the beginning, or when they reach the end, they’d forget the middle. So much unnecessary repetition. Or maybe that is what was happening to the author because in a few places the descriptions did not match anything that was said at the beginning – like everyone recognizes Ani’s name cos of the high school incident, but later in the news reports, the reader is told her name was never mentioned. Funny thing is, Ani keeps remembering things and people (that bear little resemblance to the current context) and she would go on to describe them in detail, then she would give us reasons why she hates the person she is describing. Then said person would not make an appearance elsewhere in the story. That happens to scenarios as well – it is implied that Ani had weight issues because of which she is always on some kinda diet, but the whole body image angle isn’t explored in depth. She is buying a knife on the first page, I still don’t know why. The worst of it is, neither the story of rape nor the “secret” are given any true importance. They are serious issues dealt with so flippantly.

Overall, it felt like Jessica Knoll had a bunch of stories she felt like writing and somehow she ended up connecting them all with no real purpose or context. What this book is, is an insult to rape survivors, homosexuals, women (subcategories: homemakers/stay-at-home-moms, career-driven, unmarried, thin, fat, waitresses, with-fiance-less-successful-than-protagonist), less-than-affluent people, those suffering from mental illnesses, those suffering from anorexia, in short, everyone. Ugh how wasteful.

So needless.

 

PS: I heard there is a movie coming out? I don’t know for sure. Am I the only one that gets pissed when such terrible books are made into movies?