I did not read as much as I would have liked to this month, but I still read 4 books in February. I didn’t put very much time aside this month for reading (I actually finished two of the books this weekend so I would have something to write about!), so that’s something I want to work on in March. In total, I’ve read 12 books this year and I’m ahead of schedule to finish my goal of 52 books. Since I only have a few books to review, I went in to a little more detail for some of them.
All the Light we Cannot See by Anthony Doerr – 3/5
I had really mixed opinions on this book. It follows the story of a young blind French girl, and an orphaned German boy in the Hitler Youth during WWII. It portrays what war does to people, how it affects and totally upheaves their lives, and the consequences of actions taken. It is set primarily in France, and really does not offer a whole lot more than what you may find in other novels about WWII. However, the storyline is fairly unique.
A big trend I’ve noticed over recent years is to write the chapters out of chronological order. So the first chapter will be set in June, 1939 and the next in January 1942. In mystery, suspense, or similar genres, I understand this. You’re presenting evidence out of order to create tension and to try to piece things together. In a complex, 600 page novel about WWII, it just didn’t make sense. It was confusing and made everything feel very disjointed.
The novel felt very long to me. It took me nearly a month and a half to finish – which taking a long time to read a book is not necessarily always a bad thing, but in this case it just seemed to drag. I was finding myself waiting and waiting for something big to happen, for the French girl and German boy to finally meet like you know it will, and nothing ever seemed to happen.
All of that being said, Doerr’s writing is absolutely beautiful. He clearly thought out every sentence and meticulously placed each word. The juxtaposition of ideas was flawless, and it really shone through the plot of the novel. The two protagonists were likeable and I couldn’t help but root for them throughout, even if their actions were not always the best.
So overall, a pretty mixed bag. Beautiful writing and unique plot that was not very suspenseful and sometimes confusing because of the unchronological order of the chapters. If you like historical fiction or in general just appreciate good writing, I’d recommend it. But for the average reader, I’d say pick a different book.
The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom – 4/5
I was on the fence about reading this book because it had rather mediocre reviews, but I really enjoyed it! It’s a rather simplistic tale centered around the man that “founded” time. Because of his meddling with God’s gift to creation, he was cursed and confined to a dark cave for six thousand years, and now known as “Father Time.” The only way for him to be released is to help two humans during the modern era.
The book was very simplistic; it reads almost like a fairy tale, with short sentences and clear prose. I found the storyline fairly unique. The novel alternates between Father Time and the two characters he is going to help, which keeps the story moving and helps hold your interest.
One of the main critiques I read about this book is that the characters are very archetypal – one a young, suicidal girl who gets dumped by her crush, and the other an old rich man who wants to be immortal. However, I found this suited the story. I had the mindset while I was reading that this was a fable – so I wasn’t looking for deep insights or vastly unique characteristics. The characters suited the plot and provided lessons that should be learned. I wasn’t deeply moved, but it was an enjoyable book. I’d recommend for an easy read, and the book’s pretty short so that’s a nice plus, too.
The Golem’s Eye (Bartimaeus Trilogy #2) by Jonathan Stroud – 3/5
This book introduced a new character to the trilogy named Kitty, who is part of the small band of Resistance members trying to overthrow the Magicians. Normally this type of plot would intrigue me, but I found Kitty and the rest of the resistance members totally unlikeable. They robbed shops and committed other petty crimes in the name of stopping the magicians, but their crimes were simply that: crimes. Nathaniel, the other protagonist, continued to grow more snooty and arrogant throughout the book. I understand that this is intentional by the author, but it made all of the characters in the novel simply put annoying, except for Bartimaeus. As always, his wit and sarcasm saves the day! I look forward to the third and final book, but this one was a bit of a disappointment.
Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan – 3/5
This book was almost exhausting to read. I expected a light, funny read about what the title suggested: unimaginably rich Asians. What a got was a book packed full of gossip, tons of characters, and endless experiences, many of which left me practically fuming. The book follows Nicholas Young, the only son of the rich Young family, as he brings his girlfriend home to Singapore with him to meet his family for the summer. Rachel is not rich, nor does she come from an elitist family, and the family thinks she is dating Nick just for his money which results in a disastrous summer vacation.
I did find many parts of the book funny, and it was interesting to read how these people who have more money than small countries live their extravagant lives; but all of the gossip, the torture they put Rachel through, the crimes they are willing to commit to become more wealthy and save face, it was hard and tiring to read. And the ending really didn’t give any closure to all of the problems that built up through the story. It’s extravagant, outrageous, and mildly funny. I’m glad I read it, but I’m also glad I’m done reading it.
Happy leap day!