Friday, November 10, 2017

TRULY MADLY GUILTY


Review of TRULY MADLY GUILTY by LIANE MORIARTY

I adore this author and the way she creates such complex, believable, and fascinating characters. In this novel, we follow six viewpoints as the story interweaves between past and present. Something happened at a recent gathering between this crowd, something that changed everyone’s perspective.

However, the reader doesn’t learn what happened until over halfway through the book, page 293 to be exact. This frustrated me immensely. I do not like information being withheld from me - the reader - that the point of view character clearly knows, especially if this technique seems aimed at keeping me reading. Also I believe that the longer an author withholds a mysterious secret from the reader, the better and more interesting that secret better be once it’s finally revealed. I did honestly love this book, but would have much preferred the novel open upfront with what happened.

I nevertheless enjoyed the character studies from beginning to the end, and enjoyed entirely without complaint after turning the corner of the big revelation. The six main characters consist of three couples. Tiffany and Vid hosted the infamous barbeque that caused such fallout. Tiffany is a gorgeous, vibrant woman and her husband Vid has the charisma and charm to hold his own in her company. In contrast, they have a quiet daughter who keeps her nose stubbornly buried in her books. Sam and Clementine have two young girls and a seemingly perfect marriage. Clementine is a musician while Sam’s art may be his admirable optimism. The last couple Erica and Oliver don’t fit in as well. Erica has been best friends with Clementine since childhood, though perhaps due more to Clementine’s mother than Clementine herself. Both Erica and Oliver had hard childhoods that left them with numerous ticks, quirks, and compulsions. They’re well-meaning, lovable people, but they understandably grate on people’s nerves.

Despite my insistence that the big reveal should come much earlier, this book hasn’t in the least undermined my strong respect for this author. On the contrary, I’m even more convinced at her knack for creating characters I won’t soon forget.

Friday, November 3, 2017

UPROOTED


Review of UPROOTED by NOAMI NOVIK

Agnieszka lives in a small valley where every ten years a terrible mage known as the Dragon takes one young girl to serve him. In return he keeps the awful Wood’s dark magic from overrunning the village. This novel feels both fresh and modern as well as a familiar fairy tale classic.

Everyone anticipated that the Dragon would take Agnieszka’s friend, Kasia. She’s the Dragon’s type: gorgeous, intelligent, talented in so many ways. Of course, he doesn’t take Kasia; he takes Agnieszka.

I will confess that I liked a lot of what this story does conceptually with common tropes more than I found myself engrossed in the plot of the book. That disclaimer aside, I loved the friendship dynamic between Kasia and Agnieszka. In almost any other book, they would be frenemies. Or Kasia would have a painful fall from her place of reverence. In UPROOTED, however, Agnieszka does not give in to the temptations of jealousy, nor does Kasia take on an expected holier than thou air. The two girls are loyal, steadfast friends who respect one another and cherish each other’s gifts.

The relationship dynamic between the Dragon and Agnieszka also sidesteps typical roles in a story such as this, though their relationship isn’t explored and unpacked quite as much as I wanted.

I loved the suspenseful Wood plotline, but found myself confused and lost in some of the twists and turns and action scenes. I suspect more is revealed about the inner workings of this mysterious force than I followed.

With fairy tale elements and a feminist heroine, UPROOTED is definitely a modern classic.