Thursday, September 29, 2011

did I miss something?

Nightwoods by Charles Frazier
Rating: 3 stars (out of 5)
Genre: historical fiction
Challenge: 100 Book Challenge 2011
Review: The action in this story, what there is of it, moves very slowly. For the first half of the book, nothing really happens at all. But then, suddenly, things start happening and connections start being made, and I couldn't help but feel that I missed some sort of catalyst in the narrative. It is entirely possible that I did miss some important bit, but since I'm pretty sure that I actually read every page, it seems more likely that Frazier decided that his readers would take a bit of the action on faith.  In something like the reverse of dramatic irony, characters are suddenly referring to conversations and relationships of which the reader is unaware.

This kind of storytelling leaves me scratching my head and flipping back through the book to see if I missed something. (It also has me wondering whether the author chose to relate action to the reader in this way because he couldn't figure out how to actually write the scene where the critical interactions occur.) Frazier is talented enough to pull off these sudden transitions in a way that's not as aggravating as it might be, but I did still feel cheated out of critical parts of an otherwise beautifully told story.

 FTC Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher in exchange for this review.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

the light and the dark

Good Night, Mr. Tom by Michelle Magorian
Rating: 4.5 stars (out of 5)
Genre: historical fiction, children's
Challenges: 100 Book Challenge 2011, 2011 Page to Screen Reading Challenge
Review: In this book, Michelle Magorian has written what is essentially a very sweet story of an abused boy (William) who finds love and happiness.  But while most of the book is taken up with William's recovery (both mental and physical), Magorian is not afraid to show us what happened to him.  It is a true mark of her skill as a writer that our brief glimpse into this darker side of the story is done with a very light touch, making it completely believable, but not at all overwhelming.  Readers of all ages will be moved.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

a verb, Senator!

The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)
Genre: fiction
Challenges: 100 Book Challenge 2011, 2011 Page to Screen Reading Challenge
Review: This is an engaging, believable story, and one that is well-told.  My only real problem with it is Proulx's choice to occasionally leave out the verbs or pronouns from her prose.  I understand this as a stylistic choice, but I'm a fan using all the parts of speech we have at our disposal, and I find it frustrating when authors deliberately make their work hard to read in order to have a distinctive "voice".