Review: The Vegetarian

The Vegetarian
The Vegetarian by Han Kang
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I just… I have no idea what to say about this book. Everyone and everything is just so… I want to say messed up but that doesn’t come close to enough. There were so many different things going on with the interconnected characters that I wasn’t sure who was more screwed up or mentally ill or abusive or misogynistic.

I have to say that I did enjoy (although I’m not sure that’s the right word for it) how the sisters’ characters were unfolded. I honestly never had any idea where this book was going from one chapter to the next. There haven’t been many books that have made me have visceral reactions the way parts of this book did. So there’s that. Noticing the various cultural differences was interesting too. It’s definitely not a book that can be understood as much while applying American mores.

Would I recommend it? Not a blanket recommendation, that’s for sure. But if you like reading very dark books about dysfunctional families and mental illness, it could be right up your alley. I’m not sorry that I read it but it was a difficult read nearly all the way through.

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Review: The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid's Tale
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I found this book mostly fascinating and terrifying. With our current political and religious culture this could be a possible future.

I loved the prose and Claire Danes was perfect as narrator. I would absolutely read it again. Maybe with my eyes next time.

I did have to take a short break because it was so heavy emotionally. That’s not to say there’s much in the way of emotional writing because the narrator, Offred, is not emotive in her telling. She’s sharing her story in a direct way. Well, direct in that she’s giving facts and reasons behind her decisions. There are a few places where she gives her more personal feelings but she tries to keep it to a minimum. I think this forced me to experience my own emotions rather than feed off of hers.

I’m glad I finally read it.

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Review: Far from Home

Far from Home
Far from Home by Lorelie Brown
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m really torn on the rating of this one. I think it’s better than just three stars and it’s the characters and the inclusion of and handling of anorexia bumped it to a pretty solid 3.5 for me. I debated on whether I should round up or down – since Goodreads seems determined to never allow for .5 stars – and while there were a few things that really pulled me out of the story on numerous occasions, the strength of my emotional connection with the characters pushed me to round up.

I thought that Rachel felt like a genuine and complex character and, even though the book is told in first person POV, I was comfortable with my level of understanding of Pari, too. For me, the most compelling part of the book was the way Rachel’s anorexia was handled. I don’t know anyone – at least I don’t think I do – who has suffered with the illness but I feel like I’ve gained some insight into the condition and a bit of what it must be like. I thought the author did a great job of keeping it in the forefront but never in any sort of preachy way that may have felt forced or contrived.

So what were these things that pulled me out of the story and prevented me from giving it a solid 4 stars or more? Well, the first person POV used with present tense was the first thing. It didn’t mess me up all the time and I mostly got used to it but everyone once in a while – YANK! – right out. But probably the biggest thing was some of the word choices. There were times when phrases or passages seemed like they had the wrong words mixed in. One example was something along the lines of Rachel noticing that Pari was tired and the phrase “she could tell by the weariness of her cheeks” was used. Or words really close to that – I don’t have the book open in front of me but it was the weariness of her cheeks. That pulled me out of the story so badly that I had to text a friend to make sure it wasn’t just me because I don’t know how cheeks can look weary. There were a few places where I felt like the author was trying to make a passage feel more poetic but the actual words didn’t do it for me and I spent more time wondering what words would have made it flow better or make more sense than I did being immersed in the scene. Things like that.

I was typing up the last sentence of this little review when I remembered that I wish so hard that there had been another chapter or three between the last chapter and the epilogue. How wonderful would it have been to experience what they went through to get to that epilogue? I’m not the sort of person who needs everything all wrapped up with a bow but damn, what a bunch of important things to not address. At least that’s how I feel about it.

So after reading all this you may be wondering why I still rounded up… It’s the story, the characters, and how I felt while reading it. Also I didn’t see any typos so that’s a bonus. I’ll stick by the 4 stars because I had a very hard time putting it down and I think I’m going to miss Rachel and Pari. And Pari’s mom. That doesn’t happen very often for me anymore.

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Review: The Exorcist

The Exorcist
The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Not nearly as scary as when I read it as a teen but I didn’t expect it to be. Still a great, great read. The author’s voice was nearly perfect for the narration. If you like horror books – and this one is quite graphic – you’ll probably like this.

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Review: Poppy Jenkins

Poppy Jenkins
Poppy Jenkins by Clare Ashton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved this book. There’ll be a more complete review at C-Spot Reviews but I need to get some thoughts down now while waiting for my co-reviewer to finish.

First off, the characters are just wonderful. Except maybe Sam, I didn’t like her but I suppose my dislike for her still means she was well done. Poppy and her family and friends were lovely and each featured character felt unique and real. Rosalyn was tougher to connect with – being that she’s a good guy and a bad guy all at once for much of the book. Being, myself, a person who often comes across as unlikable, I felt a bit more for her than maybe some other readers. But one thing is undeniable, Poppy and Rosalyn have some kick-ass chemistry.

I would rate this one a 4.5 if Goodreads offered the choice but there were a couple things that prevent me from rounding it up to a full 5 stars. But I had to debate it for a while. This romance had just about everything for me and the author’s voice, writing style, and sense of humor will keep me coming back for more.

I definitely recommend this book to any lover of romance novels.

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