Quick Review: Fell Short

I looked forward to these two books but both fell way short of what I heard about them.

  • Room by Emma Donoghue
    • Rating: ★★ [ratings guide]
    • I thought the kid’s voice was going to put me off but I grit my teeth and became numb to it. It wasn’t too distracting once I settled in (there were other things about this book I liked a lot less), but I can definitely see how it could drive some readers crazy.
    • I thought Ma and Jack were going to be trapped for the whole book so during the escape plan I was so prepared for it to fail and then it didn’t…which seems ridiculous. I think maybe with more background of Old Nick and Ma’s relationship the escape could have been believable (for example, maybe he cares for her in some twisted way or he has a thing about kids or dead people – something to explain why he would let it fall apart so easily) but since it’s just Jack’s perspective the reader doesn’t get any of that.
    • The story overall didn’t feel real to me. It lacks soul, it lacks tension (which one might consider important given the plot). Jack is too smart for his age and his situation. Everything that happens afterwards in the real world reads like someone’s poorly thought out idea of what might happen – it felt like cardboard, stiff and awkward. The character interactions lacked dept. This could have been a powerful story, but it’s not. It came across as very ‘blah’ for me. It feels odd and almost a bit disrespectful, given the recent stories in the news about women escaping similar situations, that this not-so-great book then comes out from an author who’s never experienced such horrors .
  • The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco
    • Rating: ★ [ratings guide]
    • Heads up, I was not impressed by this book…
    • Heurgh, the only reason I finished this is because it was short and easy to skim and I was bored at work without Internet access.
    • The story is a fun concept but it’s poorly executed. Words I used in my notes to describe the prose: Immature, less developed, false, stiff, unrealistic. Reads like the work of a very new writer. I recognize my own early writings here. Stuff I would put onto paper, knowing it wasn’t any good, but also knowing I had to write something. It’s a fine place to start writing, but not something that should ever see the light of day. Most of the time, if I don’t like a book, I recognize that’s due to my personal taste, but I think this book is a proper example of poor writing.
      • I do think that Okiku has a decent voice, however (even if she never does anything). Chupeco should run with that style as it seems to be the only thing that works in this novel.
    • So many awkward attempts at incorporating Japanese culture. One of the reasons I picked this up was because of its tie in to Japanese ghost culture. DO NOT READ THIS BOOK FOR THAT REASON. This is a huge contributing factor to the writing coming across as immature, as I mentioned above. It seems like the author throws in all the tropes/stereotypes about Japan that she’s ever come across. There’s no indication she has any real knowledge about the country. I noted a few examples of this but when they became so numerous I stopped – one annoying one was the unnatural use of the -san suffix (see around ~pg. 114)
    • The freaking shifting perspective what’s up with that. It’s so all over the place that I was confused for awhile about whether there one or two ghosts.
    • There’s no tension in the ‘scary’ parts of the novel, it’s just gory. It’s like reading a description of what you might see in a horror movie. But then, maybe that’s what a horror novel is like? I guess I’m showing my preference for terror over horror here. I like spooky tension, not blood baths.
    • A chunk of the book is e-mails between the MC and his cousin while they’re in Japan. This felt really outdated to me.

Have you read any disappointing books lately? (What a sad question…alternatively, have you read any surprisingly good books lately?!)