Tag: It’s A Mystery Blog (page 1 of 2)

Book Review of The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

I read this book as part of the 2017 European Reading Challenge and also The Bestseller Code Reading Challenge.   Locations include Belgium &  The Netherlands, mostly Amsterdam, and the United States.

The Goldfinch*, by David Nicholls

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

The Goldfinch (2014) is Donna Tartt’s third novel, following her critically acclaimed debut novel The Secret History (1992) and The Little Friend (2003).  Observe the number of years between each publication date; Tartt takes her time, writing large novels, both in length and in scope.

Bildungsroman

When I finish a book, I like to read other descriptions and reviews.  Sometimes those reviews gel the thoughts and feelings I had while reading the novel, while other times I disagree entirely with the reviewer.  While reading through a few reviews for The Goldfinch, I came across a new term (to me): bildungsroman.  Merriam-Webster provides this definition:

literature : a novel about the moral and psychological growth of the main character – a bildungsroman by Charles Dickens

This is certainly an apt description for The Goldfinch, as Tartt leads the main character, Theo Decker, on a decade long journey of life-altering catastrophes, emotional and physical upheavals, grief, and survivor’s guilt, providing plenty of opportunities for moral and psychological growth.  As a reader, Theo drew me in from the very beginning, and I followed his journey avidly, hoping he would make it through the storms, while preparing myself for the possibility that he would not.

Truisms and Real Literature

Some reviewers blasted The Goldfinch for not being “real literature” because the novel explained too much to the reader and didn’t require said reader to have to analyze the book for its underlying message.  The last chapter presents several “truisms” that Theo has come to realize from his bildungsroman, and they are spelled out for the reader.  These reviews included long rants about what the term “real literature” means, what makes a book “serious” and “literary” rather than merely a contemporary novel, quickly read and easily forgotten.  The same discussion occurs with art.  What is art?  What makes it art?  Tartt addresses this:

You see one painting, I see another, the art book puts it at another remove still, the lady buying the greeting card at the museum gift shop sees something else entire, and that’s not even to mention the people separated from us by time—four hundred years before us, four hundred years after we’re gone—it’ll never strike anybody the same way and the great majority of people it’ll never strike in any deep way at all but—a really great painting is fluid enough to work its way into the mind and heart through all kinds of different angles, in ways that are unique and very particular.

 

In the end, art is whatever makes us, as individuals, feel.  Literature is the same.  It challenges us individually.  It speaks to us individually.  It affects us individually.  For me, The Goldfinch is definitely literature, worthy of the time it took to read.  It’s a book that I will think about and mull over for weeks to come, and one that I will quite likely read again.

This is an abbreviated review.  For the full review, please visit It’s A Mystery Blog.

Review of Easy Prey by John Sandford

I am participating in several reading challenges, one being the 100 Bestsellers List.  Here is my review of Easy Prey by John Sandford.  This book is #11 in a series of twenty-seven (so far) novels starring Lucas Davenport, a police officer and war games designer.  Interestingly, all twenty-seven books include the word “Prey” in the title.  Does that tell you anything about the series?  In Easy Prey, the body count mounts quickly.

This post does not contain spoilers.

 

Easy Prey* by John Sandford
 
 
(*Amazon Affiliate link)
This review is written about the first half of the book, up to Chapter 19.

Police Procedural

Easy Prey is a police procedural novel, which means that the murder mystery is solved by those trained to solve murders, the police, and the story is heavy on the police process.  This is a new type of mystery for me to read and, so far, I like it.  As Roberta mentioned in her Writer’s Review, this book has a lot of characters, but I’ve been able to follow along and keep them all straight without too much difficulty.  I was struck by the amount of detail Sandford gives for each character. For example, in Chapter 6 we are introduced to Lapstrake, a police officer from the Intelligence division.

Lapstrake was a bland, twenty-something guy with a home haircut who wore blue Sears work pants and a blue shirt that said “Cairn’s Glass” on the back.

A blue shirt wasn’t descriptive enough.  Sandford added “Cairn’s Glass” to the back of it.  I had to wonder why Cairn’s Glass, if that would be significant to the story later on, but it did succeed in making Lapstrake’s character more memorable.

Appreciation of Women

Lucas Davenport is not your typical police officer.  For one thing, he’s wealthy; he invented board games to supplement his police income, which turned into computer games and led to his own company selling simulations to law enforcement.  For another, Davenport has an innate appreciation of women, especially beautiful women.  He notices and responds to small things about women that seem atypical of a middle-aged male, let alone a street-hardened cop.

Read the rest of my review over on It’s A Mystery Blog.

 

Review of World War Z by Max Brooks

I am participating in several reading challenges, one being the 100 Bestsellers List. Here’s my review for World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, by Max Brooks  This book is categorized as Apocalyptic Horror and is a follow-up to Brooks’ zombie survival manual, The Zombie Survival Guide.  A movie with the same name was made from World War Z in 2013, starring Brad Pitt.

This post does not contain spoilers.

World War Z* by Max Brooks
 

 

(*Amazon Affiliate link)

World War Z is different from any of the other books we’ve read so far in that it is a series of interviews of survivors of the Zombie War, which decimated the earth’s population and drastically altered the political and religious makeup of the world.  Since the interviews are of survivors, it’s obvious that humans won the war against the non-humans, although there are still millions of zombies “surviving” in the cold zones of the world and in the depths of the oceans.  In addition, the interview format creates a “distance” from the events that seems to minimize the “horror” aspect of the story, which was good for me, as I am definitely not a fan of horror anything.

In my last review (Weird Sisters), I mentioned that I was going to read The Bestseller Code again in an effort to make more sense of how the books we’ve read so far made it on the bestseller list and hopefully better appreciate the subsequent books we plan to read.  In fact, both Roberta and I wanted to read The Bestseller Code again, so we decided to give ourselves a three-week window for reading and reviewing World War Z.

Read the rest of my review over on It’s A Mystery Blog.

 

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