I only got through two books in May, and unfortunately they were both letdowns! Luckily, I read many comic trades as well, which were lovely (but those will be in a separate review!) Read on for my May book reviews!
“Living in their car, surviving on tips, Charmaine and Stan are in a desperate state. So, when they see an advertisement for Consilience, a ‘social experiment’ offering stable jobs and a home of their own, they sign up immediately. All they have to do in return for suburban paradise is give up their freedom every second month – swapping their home for a prison cell.” – via Goodreads
Where to begin with this book. The writing was enjoyable; I never felt bored reading it. But I just didn’t care. The main story follows married couple Charmaine and Stan as they agree to join and live within a social experiment. It starts well, but eventually they end up cheating on one another. That becomes the focus of at least 3/4 of the book. And it is so uninteresting. I found Charmaine to be an absolutely obnoxious character, and Stan wasn’t any better. Hearing about the mundane aspects of their life just wasn’t captivating in the least, nor do I find the subject of infidelity that fascinating.
To make matter more frustrating, Atwood, whom I find to be a master of subtlety, is constantly alluding to things in the outside world and sub plots and conspiracies that are all about 800% more interesting than the ACTUAL story! To the point that I wish she had just written about that instead of this boring mundane plot involving Charmaine & Stan. Eventually things pick up, and we do at least get a conspiracy plot, but it is all presented from the point of view of Charmaine (who is a dolt; and that’s an understatement) and Stan (who is apparently only motivated by attractive women and his penis, ugh). Because of that, the actual conspiracy becomes so much less interesting because they are so annoying as characters.
It has it’s interesting parts, but overall nothing in it resonated with me. By the end, I felt like it was an attempt to send a message about marriage, or human nature, but it fell completely flat for me and it was the first of Atwood’s books that I haven’t enjoyed.
“Rich Shapero’s Too Far follows an ultra-imaginative pair, Robbie and Fristeen, through a transformative summer spent exploring the woods behind their remote Alaskan homes. As their family lives become increasingly unstable, the characters travel deeper and farther into their private world. ” – via Goodreads
My mother gave me this book to read because she wanted someone to discuss it with, along with the warning, “It’s really weird.” She was not wrong. Too Far is incredibly strange. It follows Robbie and Fristeen, two six year old children who meet one summer and spend the season bonding together in the Alaskan woods. I found much of it fascinating. Shapero provides amazing imagery with his writing, and I adored that it was never clear whether what the children experienced out in the woods was all in their imaginations, or actual deep forest magic. Throughout the book the kids refer to different aspects of the forest with names, and the forest communicates with them, and you can never tell if it’s just a game they are playing? Or are they in touch with a higher power at hand in the forest? It was excellently done.
My only major complaint (and it’s a biggie) is that the characters were written in a manner that was way too adult on some occasions. Many times, they read wonderfully as six year olds, especially during the times when their home lives were in turmoil. But on other occasions, the themes they dealt with and the way they talked just didn’t fit with the kids being six. If it had been consistent, I maybe could have bought the two as very mentally mature kids, but as it was, their mentality was very inconsistent and it broke my immersion a lot. I’d read something and think, This is really inappropriate for six year olds. Had they been ten or eleven, I think this would have worked so much better on every level.
An interesting read for sure, but I can’t honestly say I’d recommend it. The writing was completely unique, and as I said, truly provided amazing imagery, but overall it was extremely strange, and I found the characters to be unrealistic regarding their age on many occasions.
What did you read in May?