Category Archives: General Fiction Reviews

Reviews of any fiction that is not YA.

Mr. Morris’ Book Reviews! – The Beautiful Land

Beautiful Land

Mr. Morris’ Rating: 7/10

You ever start reading a book and after only a few pages you stop and think, “Holy crap. This is maybe going to be my favorite book of all time”? It’s happened a few times for me in the past, and I love feeling like I’ve found THE PERFECT book for me. I had the same feeling through the first 80 or 90 pages of The Beautiful Land – and I was really truly believing it this time! – but then the novel fell into the pitfalls of a predictable storyline. Still, there were many above average moments in the writing, and Alan Averill does a great job in somehow making the outlandish plot still seem tied to the real world.

I think my main problem with the book lies in who the target audience might be. Judging by the content and synopsis, The Beautiful Land certainly seemed like it is adult fiction but there are too many cliches and far too obvious plot twists that might cause an older reader to have an over-the-top-eyeroll moment. At times it felt like I was reading YA but there was far too much adult material (ie: profanity and horrific moments) within. There are also a few too many “deus ex machina” moments, conveniently helping the characters along their way to success. You’ll know what they are if you’ve read the book.

Overall though, there are enough moments where, as a writer, I can take in and enjoy regardless of the other literary deficiencies. Like I said, the beginning is fantastic and the ending is beautiful, just as the title has led us to believe. I look forward to future books by the author.

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Mr. Morris’ Book Reviews! WORST. PERSON. EVER.

Worst. Person. Ever.

Mr. Morris’ Rating: 7/10

While there’s not too much of a story to speak of here (ie: plot, acts, character arcs), this is was an extremely enjoyable book from one of my favorite authors.

As the back of the book reads: “This novel contains much talk of bodily functions, improbable sexual content, violent death, nuclear crisis and elaborately inventive profanity: Viewer Discretion is Advised.” And the warning is definitely not kidding. This is a much different Douglas Coupland than we’re used to seeing/reading, without any true social commentary or any attempt whatsoever at achieving literary glory. But you can tell he’s having FUN. And that’s the point of it. There’s nothing to think about aside from how ridiculous the tale is. Our hapless protagonist – Raymond Gunt – lives through an endless stream of bad luck, but as the title implies, we’re not really rooting for Raymond anyway. It’s absurdly enjoyable to be witness to so much misfortune being dumped on one individual.

Worst. Person. Ever. is crude, crass, vile, insulting, obnoxious and offensive. But it’s also funny. Very, very funny.

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Mr. Morris’ Book Reviews! – Wildwood

Wildwood

Mr. Morris’ Rating: 5/10

The problem I had with this book was trying to identify the correct audience. If it’s aimed towards younger readers (which I believe it is) then the length of the novel may be a bit bewildering and there is quite a lot of political jargon amongst the denizens of Wildwood. If it is meant to be enjoyed by older readers I fear it is simply too predictable with far too many character/plot cliches. Also the main character, Prue, really doesn’t have much depth and we see far more change in the characters around her.

Colin Meloy is an excellent writer however, and aside from a Wildwood sequel (which is coming), I would still not hesitate to read what he comes up with next.

I can say that the artwork does add a lot to the story and was a welcome addition.

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Mr. Morris’ Book Reviews! – Super Sad True Love Story

SSTLS

Mr. Morris’ Rating: 5/10

This review is going to require some math, so here we go. Follow along:

Two Stars for the absurd humor, plus Five Stars for the heartbreaking ending, plus Two Stars for Shteyngart‘s frenetic originality, minus Four Stars for the post-apocalyptic insanity in the middle that only seemed to detract from the heart of the novel = A Five Star Rating.

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Mr. Morris’ Book Reviews! – The Other Normals

The Other Normals

Mr. Morris’ Rating: 6/10

Maybe I should have actually read the dust jacket. The one blurb that I did read about this book did not mention anything about the main character’s journey from our world to a fantasy Tolkien-esque world. If it had, I probably would not have been as jazzed as I was about reading it, nor as let down by The Other Normals as I was.

I can say that it is a decent (if predictable) character study of an awkward pubescent teen, and I would not hesitate recommend the book for libraries, it just was not to my own tastes. It is also a fast read (let’s face it, this is really a 200-page book lightly sprinkled over 400 physical pages). The RPG aspect was original and had my interest right from the start, though did not go as far as it could have. I found myself writing a similar book in my head and imagining where I would take it. The dialogue was excellent, and the characters were easy to get to know. Ned Vizzini is a very accessible writer for the YA audience.

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Mr. Morris’ Book Reviews! – Norwegian Wood

Norwegian Wood

Mr. Morris’ Rating: 9/10

Oh, that ending could have been so much better! Actually, the book would have been near perfect without that last chapter at all. Aside from that, my biggest complaint was the character of Reiko; she just didn’t add anything for me and her whole story really just bogged down everything else around it. Take her right out and I think you’ve got a much stronger novel. (This of course is a pretty general, sweeping statement, but she certainly did not need to have so big a role. At least in my opinion.)

I was so close to giving this the 10-star treatment, but as it is Norwegian Wood is only near-perfect for me. It’s been a long time since I’ve gotten choked up from a book and it felt great. At least when I read this a second time (and I’m sure I will) I’ll know what parts to skip.

Haruki Murakami has really hooked me so far (1Q84 and Norwegian Wood), and I’ll be looking forward to another of his works. Kafka on the Shore, here I come!

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Mr. Morris’ Book Reviews! – Motherless Brooklyn

Motherless Brooklyn

Mr. Morris’ Rating: 7/10

Though not a regular reader of crime fiction, Motherless Brooklyn fits into this category but could also be considered as simply contemporary fiction. As the first of my Jonathan Lethem 3-book reading challenge, it is obvious I’m in for some exciting and fresh new literary characters. Lethem certainly did his research here; the main character suffers from Tourette’s and I’m now much more aware of the difficulties and the complexities of said syndrome. Lionel Essrog has his flaws and is by no means the world’s most likable character, but we can’t help but root for him, which is a sign of a great writer. A good little mystery here too.

If you want a more passionate review, go knock on Mr. Roberts’ door and he’ll make you want to read it too!

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