This is Not a Nice Review.

The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards by Kristopher Jansma

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.

Story of my life. Not for this book.

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!

35 thoughts on “This is Not a Nice Review.

  1. Bea says:

    I love your honesty. That being said, I am glad you gave your readers a link to other reviews of this book. Every book needs a fighting chance.
    The book sounds like a tv show, you know who did it 5 minutes in.
    I will give you credit for finishing the book. I would have put it aside and picked up a magazine.
    It is always enjoyable reading your reviews. Your honesty comes through; in the enchanted reviews and the not so enchanting. Review on!

  2. Kristine says:

    NO DESIRE TO READ THAT BOOK NOW. Thanks for the review!

    Now, onto things that glow… (poem below)

    More Than Suspect by Eavan Boland

    The oaks are stricken by a serious illness
    They dry up after having let go
    Into the glow of a sump at sunset
    A whole throng of generals’ heads

  3. theairtwit says:

    It’s always unfortunate when we bump into books that we end up having a terrible time with. Hopefully your next read will be better.

    Unless someone has beat me to it… A poem with the word “glow”: Yesterday, the sunshine made the air glow by Jimmy Santiago Baca (link: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/179716) I hope that works. Tuccelli’s book does sound rather interesting!

    • Cassie says:

      I actually love that poem after reading it. Thanks for participating. I think maybe if I came at this book from another age, or another perspective it might be different. People LOVE this book on goodreads…I’m not sure why though. Even after reading a ton of reviews, I can’t seem to find what they found.

  4. thelearnedkat says:

    The Glow

    by Roland Takaoka

    It grows somewhere inside of me

    And warms my heart, your love, you see….

    And fills me with this fateful glow

    That longs for you, a burning, slow

    And as it grows it quickens that

    Which courses through my veins, and at

    The moment when it fills my soul

    It makes me love you, makes me whole.

    So take me, that which makes me love,

    And all of me is not enough,

    But take my spirit and my name,

    Take all of me from whence I came….

    Leave nothing left to ponder

    That which doesn’t feel and doesn’t wonder,

    I beheld the real you

    And that leaves nothing left to do

    But place me there in your own heart

    And keep me, so we never part,

    So I can live within the glow

    Of you, and love the girl I know.

    • Cassie says:

      I’ll need to reread the final chapter! I just disliked it the whole way through. However, I do have this not-so-secret fetish about hating books that everyone else loves….oops…

    • Cassie says:

      Oh my gosh! Read the book!!!! I want to see what you think. I’ve been reading reviews on goodreads from people who loved it and I still cannot find why. I’m struggling.

      • Brianna Soloski says:

        I will. I have a couple I need to review, but then I’ll read it. I’ve barely had time to read lately.

      • Brianna Soloski says:

        Yes! Now that I’ve figured out how NetGalley works, I’m hooked, as if I have time to read all these books.

      • Brianna Soloski says:

        Yep. I keep running across stuff that sounds good and since I’m all for freebies, I figure why not. I assume they don’t self-destruct after a certain length of time?

      • Cassie says:

        Just don’t download them to your device. You can have them waiting to be downloaded in your dashboard, but if you download them to your device, you get a set number of days (it’s usually around 30-50).

      • Brianna Soloski says:

        Oh snap. I didn’t know that. I just put two or three on my Kindle this week. If I delete them can I re-download them when I’m ready to read them, or will they be lost forever?

      • Brianna Soloski says:

        Shoot. Okay. I guess I have some reading to do and at least now I know for future.

  5. Ryan says:

    I love it when people hate books and rant about them. It’s exactly the sort of thing literature is supposed to provoke in readers. Response. Strong emotions. Catharsis. It’s proof positive that all literature (even bad literature) exists for a reason. Awesome review!

    • Cassie says:

      Thank you! I feel the same way. Whenever someone gets emotional (either way of the spectrum) about a book, I definitely am more inclined to read it.

  6. Let's CUT the Crap! says:

    Good show!
    I was asked to review a book I hate. The author sort of knows me. I can’t do it nicely….Ugh.
    I’m glad you told the truth here but I cannot figure out how to do so without hurting any feelings. UGH.

    • Cassie says:

      Oh, I hate that. It’s really hard to do an honest review when you have to see someone, or it’s personal. I usually don’t review people I know because it gets sticky. : (

  7. Billie says:

    Thank god for literary snobs like you who dare say how good/bad a book is! We need more people like you because for god’s sake… whoever decided this book was worth publishing, they need to change their staff and put literary snobs like you (and I) in their place! Brilliant post, keep it up!

  8. cookiejarprincess says:

    I love your honest reviews! And I’m glad to know I’m not the only person in the world who disliked Goon Squad. I didn’t even finish it and that’s like a mortal sin for me. I had this one added to my to-read list but I’ll be deleting it now. Thanks for the heads up.

  9. Bea says:

    I have really enjoyed reading the poetry that your readers have posted. Thank you to them!
    I also enjoyed the reaction of your review from one of your readers. She can’t wait to read it now, so she can see what it stirred up in you. It just goes to show, whether the review is good or bad, the audience will still make their own judgement. Wonderful!

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