Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Gargoyle

At first, I didn't know this book had a huge fan-base and was quite the big deal. Thing is, I didn't recognize the cover until I tried to find it on Goodreads and spotted the cover I'm more familiar with. Goodreads loved the book, my friend loved the book, and I heard nothing but high praise. But otherwise, I didn't step into this book with very high expectations. It wasn't a book I was long-awaiting for and I didn't know the praise it received until I was well into the novel. It wasn't a book I put aside, nor one that I dragged my feet through, but it wasn't one I read quickly and with the desire I had for other books (like The Girl with All the Gifts). No, I took my time with this book and by the time I was three-fourths into the book I was pushing along just to finish it.

The author has writing talent and I praise him for all the work he put into this book. You can tell the author really poured his heart and soul into its pages. He did his research and really applied his knowledge to the book. I appreciate that, I appreciate it so much. I wish him success for something he worked so hard on (and it appears he's receiving that success!) but... I couldn't get behind the plot. I was often annoyed by the characters and bored by the events at hand. I didn't find many favorable traits about our two main characters but maybe that was the point?

So let's backtrack to all that effort you clearly see in this book. This is the best thing ever. Our dear author writes a story about many lives but the central focus is one: our unnamed narrator who suffered a horrible car accident and is now recovering from severe burns. I'm not a doctor, but I've done my fair share of reading about burn victims and I've followed the Nie Nie Dialogues for years. Much of what the author wrote about the narrator's recovery was similar to what I read in books and saw detailed in Nie's blog. Despite reading some books and following the blog of someone who dealt with this in real life, I sure as hell couldn't apply the detail our lovely author did in this book, so he must have done a lot of research and I praise him for that.

Also? He is a fan of languages and fonts. Both of which show up in this book repeatedly and it's lovely. Each language is displayed in an array of fonts and while, once more, I am not fluent in anything other than English, I'm assuming there was research effort in the languages used.

Really, I feel like this was the author's baby in literary form. I feel he really worked hard on it and I appreciate it so much. It's just that the plot wasn't for me.

So our nameless narrator who is telling this tale is somewhat obnoxious to me. There's a lot of emphasis on his porn-industry life and I feel it was completely unnecessary. I feel it was used to place emphasis on how "beautiful" the narrator used to be prior to his accident, but there are plenty of beautiful people in the world who do not need to be in the porn industry to provide proof of their beauty. The porn industry as a plot point was unnecessary. Also, our narrator is somewhat insufferable. I found him obnoxious and annoying and that, had I known him, I'd likely want to punch him. Credit to the writing talent here, his characters does grow and develop to something much better by the end of the novel but by that point I didn't really care.

There is a love interest who is possibly crazy and rattles on about the lives of different people and the past life she and the narrator lived (which is something the narrator does not remember and feels she is crazy too). She's interesting and I find her fabulous in a love her/hate her way. It was one or the other when it came to her appearances in the book. I loved her caring nature for the narrator but I hated the selfish(in my opinion) obsession she had with carving stone from home. During which time her dog would be left to fend for himself and the narrator left without anyone to help him.

I feel like all of these points are ingredients to something that will obviously not end well, and if you feel the same way then you're right. But... the ending seemed appropriate for the book.

Is this a bad book? No. The author did a great job of proceeding with events and knitting them all together, for the main part, to a final end. He did his research and it made the book very real. It was lovely, really, but it just wasn't a book for me. I find that when I'm more irritated by characters then happy about them I look at the book more negatively. So I didn't find this book to be a complete waste of time, but I was certainly pleased when I closed it and was able to start reading something more enjoyable.

Last Week's Review: The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
Next Week's Review: First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen

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