Turn The Page: May Book Reviews

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!

may book reviews - the heart goes last

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

not good not great rating

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.

may book reviews - too far

Too Far by Rich Shapero

enjoyable rating

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?

 

  • Blah, I hate when books are letdowns! I’ve been experiencing that a lot lately too. Too Far sounds like a really interesting concept, but it definitely drives me crazy when kids do or say things that are way beyond their maturity level. And The Heart Goes Last sounds like something I’ll never, ever read. Infidelity just bums me out, so thanks for the reviews! 😛

    • Kay

      You’re most welcome! Too Far was so interesting. I feel like interesting in the best way to describe it as I didn’t immediately love it or hate it, but I was definitely glad I read it and experienced it! And yeah, The Heart Goes Last was just not my cup of tea!

  • I’ve had that Atwood book on my list for a while because I adore Atwood, and the back of the book read as very interesting. Shame that it was a let down though! Also, I hate when books have children that don’t read as children, it’s weird to be reading something and then having it dawn on you like “Wait, this character is six….” I could promise you that all I cared about at age six was trying to teach my cat english.

    • Kay

      Right?! He nailed the imaginative play-in-the-woods type stuff, but a lot of their feelings and conversations were just WAY too mature for six year old kids. If you still end up reading The Heart Goes Last, I look forward to hearing what you think! I still love her writing, and am reading a book by her right now! (MaddAddam – book three of the MaddAddam trilogy!)