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!
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!
Mr. Morris’ Rating: 7/10
Any book that hits the 600-page mark is going to have plenty of moments that drag. FOREVER had those moments, at times feeling as though the book would go on, yes…forever. The premise sounded interesting to me, and as a lover of all things New York I was excited to crack it open and get going. But the main character (Cormac) doesn’t even leave Ireland until the 125-page mark, and the main idea of the story (his immortality) does not happen until page 250, more than 1/3 of the way in. Considering this premise is the book’s main selling point, 250 pages is a bit long, in my opinion, to have to wait. It’s that feeling of knowing what’s going to happen, expecting it to be on the very next page, but then just having to wait for it, reading a lot of filler along the way. If I had a hand in editing, I’d suggest trimming the “Cormac arrives in NY, is granted immortality” section from 120 pages to maybe 60.
Cormac is driven for the first half of the book, but then seems to float the rest of the way. Yes, he did this and he did that, living a full life just as he was instructed to live, but it still felt like he was drifting, going through the motions. Many of the great moments in his life happened purely by chance, not by some noble, purposeful intent to experience such great things.
The history in the book was engaging, Hamill’s writing had wonderful visuals and there were many superb character moments, but due to the almost episodic nature of Cormac’s years in New York, I would be hard-pressed to give this one more than a 7/10.
Mr. Morris’ Rating: 5/10
Certainly points for originality. I was drawn to this book by the “Coupland meets Tolkien” blurb on the cover, but found myself enjoying the amusing concept more than the book itself.
The ending seemed to drag on longer than it should have – with the characters basically carrying the couch to its final destination for the last 40 pages – and in the end there was really no big payoff. I’m all for ambiguity at a novel’s end, but this one failed to wrap things up in anything but a trite way.
Mr. Morris’ Rating: 8/10
Dare I say this novel was a bit predictable? Before you get on my case, let me add to that by stating I’ve probably never enjoyed a book I found so predictable as much as I enjoyed The Book Thief. It’s a solid read, well deserving of all the hype it’s garnered. Still, I found myself only slightly disappointed by a few minor points. For one, the narrator is none other than Death himself, which I found extremely annoying and gimmicky at the beginning. However the voice grew on me, and the further I read the more I realized it’s a better story with Death at the helm instead of a generic third-person narrative. I could have done without his smattering of short, bold notes every so often. You’ll know which parts I mean if you’ve read the book.
So why was this book predictable? **SPOILERS ahead!**
Well, you know there’s going to be a kiss between Liesel + Rudy at some point, it’s mentioned a number of times throughout, and by the time it does happen you’re not really surprised at all. This is World War II, so you also know that the bad stuff is coming at some point. And boy does it ever. The Jew hiding in the basement is a predictable scenario as well, though the relationship between Liesel & Max was still endearing.
Okay, I get that Liesel’s stealing of books was a parallel to Death’s taking of souls, but I never found the book-stealing aspect of the story all that engaging. I don’t know, maybe I’m an emotionless robot or maybe I just expect too much from a much-lauded novel.
Overall though, this is a strong book, perhaps a bit long-winded, and it crosses reader demographics – being perfect for lovers of literature of any age.
Mr. Morris’ Rating: 8/10
My first Haruki Murakami experience. 1Q84 is actually three separately published books (though one connecting story) in a single 900+ page volume. Loved the first book and second book. Book Three just didn’t have enough steam, and could probably have been written more as an epilogue. Far too many chapters where the characters were just waiting around for stuff to happen. The introduction of Ushikawa as a main character seemed unceccessary even though he was pivotal in the final meeting of Aomame & Tengo.
Murakami has interesting ways of providing information to the reader. In two instances that I can think of (the first time we learn of Tengo’s childhood memories of Aomame & when we learn about what really happened to his mother) the information is almost thrown in unexpectedly and in very strange parts of the story. I found this interesting from a writing standpoint.
The mystery was fascinating and the characters were fresh (though I found Tengo to be much more interesting than Aomame). I don’t usually read magical realism, but I really enjoyed the ideas of the Air Chrysalis, the tale of the Cat Town and the alternate realities. It all added up to one of the most unique books I’ve read.
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