I don’t think the world needs any more people shouting how wonderful this book is. But I’ll do it anyway. As a devoted Rolling Stone subscriber (& Spin, Vibe, Consequence of Sound, NPR follower) & as someone who was certainly born in the wrong generation, I feel a duty to review this book.
This book is the shit. Jennifer Egan is my new spirit animal. I want to tattoo this book to my body. & now I know a lot of songs with pauses in them.
The blurbs or descriptions on the back cover don’t really convey the full greatness of the writing. “Bennie is an aging former punk rocker &record executive. Sasha is the passionate, troubled young woman he employs.” This description is so cliche that I’m going to assume it’s a ploy. The book is so much more than this.
I knew before I started this that I might not love it, despite the amazing reviews. But I gave it a shot because it had all of my favorite things: 1920’s setting in Manhattan, the occult, a thriller genre, & just the right amount of romance as to not overpower the plot.
Evie O’Neill is a seventeen year old from Zenith, Ohio (which according to my not-at-all-extensive research is not currently a real place, so don’t be offended, boring Ohio inhabitants). Her supernatural ability to read objects gets her butt sent to Manhattan to live with her Uncle Will. Together they, & the two romantic interests, Will’s adopted son named Jericho (hate that name), & a pickpocket named Sam, try to solve a string of murders circling Manhattan in the 1920’s. There’s a lot of side-story concerning Evie’s friend Mabel, their newly acquired friend Theta, and a story about a boy named Memphis that (eventually) connects to the main characters. But all you really need to know is the majority of these kids have some occult-like powers to predict bad omens or they have some secret & creepy past that maybe, might, eventually, hopefully, for the love of God, finally be revealed. There are just way too many mini-mysteries that get dragged out.
I hate hearing bad reviews. When I hear about a book or see a potentially promising cover, the first thing I do is go to Goodreads & read reviews. I don’t just read reviews, I scan for the worst ones. I’m talking, one star reviews where people can broadcast all the book’s flaws & say it was the biggest waste of money & time they ever spent. Then I weigh their opinions & ask myself if their problems would be similar to my own if I read this book. Sometimes just one bad review can deter me from buying.
That’s what happened with The Night Circus for the longest time. I never bought it because I’d read one or two horrible reviews & chalked it up to a book I’d never want. I’m so happy I changed my mind.
The Bout of Books read-a-thon done by these guys. It is a week long read-a-thon from January 5th to Sunday, January 11th. Challeneges & giveaways! It’s very low key this year because they have eliminated their reading goal set. Now you can set your reading goal to whatever you want it to be personally, or not set one at all!
This is my first year participating, but I like it because it’s a great way to connect bloggers & promote the books we’re each reading. My goal for this week is to finish one book. It will most likely be either The Diviners, Trespassing On Einstein’s Lawn, or Wonderbook. Each of these presents its own challenges. I’m not really in the mood for a YA thriller right now, but I’m pushing my way through The Diviners faster than others. The Libba Bray really beats you over the head with the 1920s references. It’s a bit annoying because you feel like she’s trying too hard to prove she knows about the era by including random historical figures from the time or obscure 20s lingo. Trespassing On Einstein’s Lawn is just slow reading. I need to really absorb the information because a lot of it is theoretical physics talk & God knows my high-school Physics grade wasn’t the first letter of the alphabet…or the second. And Wonderbook is amazing. It’s a writing guide book if writing guide books were actually awesome & beautiful. The reason it’s taking me a while is because there are so many writing prompts I like doing in it!
But hopefully this challenge just gets me to read more. I’ve been in a slump since New Year’s Day. After a semester of reading nonstop, I wanted a break to binge on Friends reruns via Netflix (goal completed, ten seasons in five days has to be some kind of ‘you-have-no-life’ record).
But let me know if you’re participating! I’ll keep going to this blogpost to post updates or updates on my twitter!
For all Bout of Books 12 information & updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog.
Jacques Stéphen Alexis was certainly an excellent writer. His prose is as thoroughly beautiful as it is consistent. In his third novel he tells the love at first sight (sort of) story of La Nina & El Caucho in 1948 Port-au-Prince during holy week. The majority of the novel shows La Nina’s struggles to reconcile her past memories, which are starting to come back, with her future as a prostitute. El Caucho’s character, a Cuban unionist, becomes more developed as well as his past is revealed. The ultimate ending was unexpected & not only appreciated, but necessary. It was a provocative story, but the depiction of females was suffering until that end. It redeemed whatever qualms I had initially, while still giving hope to the reader that this type of almost utopian love is worth striving for.