I abhor this book. The only reason abhor isn’t in capitals is because I want you to know the quiet rage I feel towards the man who wrote this and the pretentious, gimmicky nonsense that this book became by the end. If you don’t want to read a review filled with spewing rants, please just stop reading now.
The only reason another human being should pick up this book is to see a book within a book, or as an April Fool’s joke. Give this one to someone you detest and tell them to live like the princess. This is every experimental novel gone wrong. You should not take me on a journey to every country under the sun just because your narrator can’t figure out who he is. The travel throughout this book wasn’t justified at all. It’s as if the author needed a reason to move this lonely boy throughout the world.
He must have thought, Hm, I’d like to write about Dubai, let me take him there next. I know, he’ll have a student who offers him a delightful teaching professorship. No, just no, Kristopher Jansma. I know I’m a literature snob, and I loathed Goon Squad which everyone and their mother, including the Pulitzer committee adored, but seriously, is this what fiction is coming to? Should I expect books that have no follow-through in the narrative. Are there not expectations that a book has a solid cause and effect cycle even if I don’t agree with the cause and effect of it all (i.e. Harry Potter living in the final book)? In Goon Squad, forty pages of powerpoint is not writing, that’s called forty pages of a powerpoint presentation, something I do infrequently for my students and I don’t want an author to do to me. In The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards, two-hundred pages of just-so-so literary development isn’t enough to enhance the dangling characters.
While the characters are interesting and I find them somewhat tempting to read about it, they are filled with potholes of cliche. Puddles of cliche. Mind-bombs of cliche. Of course, Anton is a complete brown recluse of a writer hiding out in Iceland typing away a novel without any punctuation. Until our author can quit a love that was never there to begin with, he can’t write his novel. Why at the end, do we have to tie it all up with a nice little bow? This boy from Airport Wing A writing a novel about all the experiences he has traveling on flights that his mother was once a hostess and inevitably used as a method to meet men and make her son. I get the full circle, it didn’t need to be shoved in my face. I also really didn’t appreciate the gimmick of having the book we’re reading be the book that the editor finds at the end and obviously publishes. Whoever on Goodreads said this was such a new way of doing things, where have you been? Authors have been doing this for ages. The book begins and ends and we discover, oh gee, that the book we’re reading was the book he was writing. I wasn’t born yesterday, Jansma.
Of course, the unnamed main character finds his dream at the end and leaves it on the very table where he began the tale of losing his novels. I wasn’t aware we needed that lovely little bow tied up at the end of our story. I thought Eat, Pray, Love did enough of that. Shoelace-perfect books are for girls who love when the princess falls for the prince and goes off into the sunset. NOT for girls like me who think the princess has gone off to clean the kitchen of her throned prince. We aren’t told what the princess does after marriage because of this: we make our own ideas, as readers, we’re a reliable sort. We learn to read between the cracks that the author left. In literary fiction, we don’t like these bows. We want the gore and the pain and the raw affirmation that life is poetic, but hard as shit.
So… I’m sorry I’m the only one that feels this way, but absolutely not. You may not gimmick your way into the literary folds of this universe. I don’t care how many experiments you play on your reader, how many countries you don’t describe but somehow we end up in, or how many depressing conversations and drugs your characters take, I will never appreciate a book that can’t even take itself seriously. How do you expect me to suspend relief through continents, narrative lines that are drug out, but never truly meaningful, and relationships that are painfully fake. You can’t possibly expect me to just accept and hang on these experiments and cliches, right?
I am disappointed, sir.
Side Note: The lovely and wonderful people at Penguin sent me this book as an advanced reader’s copy. I will say that this is the first ARC I really did not adore by Penguin. They usually send me fantastic literary ditties. I will never write a review just to get more advanced reader’s copies or to please the people at the top. You will always get my most pure and honest thoughts. It remains your choice whether you read this one or not and this is the opinion of a young adult woman who read this book while being rained-in on a camping trip. Goodreads features other opinions here.
GIVEAWAY! The lovely people at Penguin also gave me the opportunity to have my first giveaway on my blog. In honor of the new paperback cover of Glow by Jessica Maria Tuccelli, one of my readers will receive a free copy. *SCREAMS OF GLEE*
To win the free copy, you must find a poem that uses the word “glow.” I want to highlight some poetry for National Poetry Month. The first reader to do this will win the free copy from Penguin. Now, go on a poetry hunt!