Where to even begin? I couldn’t finish this book. I was five chapters away and I couldn’t bring myself to go any further. Everything I love about Backman’s works is in his colorful characters, his quick sense of humor, and his ability to paint all the colors of human grief on a complex canvas of other emotions.
I grabbed Beartown eagerly off the shelf after reading everything else Backman has written like I was starving. Only to be turned off the meal by meager portions of charred food. Everything I just said I loved about Backman’s work in the last paragraph? He sacrificed it all on the alter of political narrative. This whole story was bland, humorless and predictable. Instead of focusing on the third person limited narration of one character like we’re used to from Backman’s work, we get a whole cast of players who are stiffly forced into whatever the story needs them to be. Instead of a colorful and human cast we’re left with these stiff marionettes for a puppet show being put on by a novice.
I think varying the perspectives was supposed to add nuance to the subject Backman tries to handle here but instead it just left me frustrated. I don’t know who any of these people are! I can tell you an awful lot about Ove or Britt-Marie, characters from Backman’s previous novels. But I couldn’t explain to you one deeper thing about any of these characters. Benji loves his sisters and is a problem kid in school, Maya loves music, Ana is whatever the plot needs her to be for that chapter. It’s all so surface level!
Not only is the book almost entirely humorless (Some of the characters try to make jokes but they’re not good at it) but also it bothers to even try and too hard be deep. The author will write small paragraphs jumping from perspective to perspective throughout each chapter but occasionally he’ll end a random paragraph with some one liner that’s supposed to be reflective or foreshadowing.
It never works, and comes off as very obnoxious.
See what I just did there? That’s what I mean! Imagine reading a whole entire book that’s written like that! Just breaking itself up into portions and trying to hold your hand through the social commentary it’s trying to make. Don’t get me wrong, I love a story with good social commentary embedded inside but when it’s the whole point of writing your story you’re probably doing it wrong. Treating your audience like children is not usually well received.
Sometimes I wonder if review writers read whole books before writing their reviews or if they’re afraid to say something about a controversial topic is bad because they don’t want it to look like they’re defending the wrong side. Objectivity gets set aside for virtue far too often and that’s how we get shit books that aren’t actually helping make any good change. This book was frustrating to read and I only barreled through most of it out of sheer willpower. I looks forward to Backman’s next work and hopefully anticipate another charming human I can come to love.
Hi everyone! It’s your favorite little sis J finally back and oh boy am I ready to tell you about so many books I have read in my time away! So to celebrate me coming back to reviewing I have a special double feature today.
First up, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry is a story about seven year old Elsa and an apartment building full of lovable misfits. After Elsa’s grandmother dies she receives a series of letters that she has to deliver to the different tenants of her apartment building. The more people she meets the more parallels she draws between her neighbors and the stories her grandmother used to tell her.
Backman writes about loss and grief as his major theme throughout the book with a balanced sense of humor.
One of the characters Elsa gets to know a little better in the story is Britt-Marie. An older woman who’s husband is unfaithful. In the stories she represents the Princess of the Kingdom of Sorrows.
Britt-Marie finally decides to leave her unfaithful husband at the end of the events in My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry. She goes to work in a community center in a small town called Borg where she accidentally become the soccer coach to a very bad “team” in the town. The town seems determined to ignore Britt-Marie and her busybodying until they can be rid of her but soon she and the town open their hearts to each other.
After Reading these two books I’ve read A Man Called Ove and have picked up Backman’s newest book that just came out last month, Beartown. Backman writes about unlikeable people in the most addicting way possible and soon enough these people will make readers love them. If you enjoy getting to know strangers, misfits, busybodies and curmudgeons get ready to settle in and get to know the very real humans that Backman will introduce you to.
Geisha in Gion is an autobiography written by Mineko Iwasaki (Iwasaki Mineko in traditional Japanese format). Iwasaki was one of the geiko interviewed by Arthur Golden for his novel Memoirs of a Geisha (Which I will be reading and reviewing in due course). She, however, felt that he misrepresented both her and the geisha community in his novel and thus penned this book.
This book… I’ve been waiting for this book for years. Like, at least two years. When it was delayed I thought my heart would break because I had to wait another 5 months for it, and after the reveal at the end of the last book that seemed like a cruel and unusual punishment. For those of you who don’t know, The Song Rising is the third book in The Bone Season septology and the first one to end on what I would consider to be “not a cliffhanger”. If you’ve read the first two books, you can see my reaction to The Mime Order (spoiler-free) here.
I didn’t like this book as much as the others and I’m not entirely sure why. The first thing that I think it was is that is was written in First Person. Not that I don’t like FP POVs but it just doesn’t seem to fit with Wynne Jones’ style too well. It felt a little forced. Continue reading
When deciding how to read the Chrestomanci books, I had a bit of a problem deciding on the order in which to read them. There’s the publication order, which I almost went for, the recommended reading order, which Diana Wynne Jones suggested, and chronological order, which I flat out refused because it seemed too bizarre. After at least half hour debating it to my self, I finally settled on the recommended reading order and picked up The Lives of Christopher Chant. Continue reading
You’re probably all getting really fed up of me reviewing Diana Wynne Jones’ books right now, never fear, this is the last series I’ll be reviewing of hers for a while, I’ll move on to something else after I’ve done these.
Charmed Life is the first in a series called Chrestomanci. It’s set in a world similar to our own, yet distinctly different. According to the back of the book, it’s a “Related World” and that means that where our world began looking into science and stuff around the 14th and 15th century, this world focused on Magic. Which is great because that makes it fun. Continue reading