Review: The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

1232Blurb:

Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julián Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Soon Daniel’s seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets–an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love.

Review:

Normally I try to maintain a semblance of eloquence in my reviews, but it’s been three days since I finished The Shadow of the Wind and all I have left to say is this book was dumb. Yes, I understand that “dumb” is the word 5-year-olds use to insult each other as their mothers scold, “Be nice!” but I have no other way to describe this book nor any desire to search for another way to describe it. It was boring, incredibly overlong, sexist, and overall unfeeling.

Despite a decent mystery (although as it unravels it becomes more and more mundane, until it’s no longer “mysterious” but, once again, merely dumb), I cared nothing about what happened here. And it showed—the farther I read, the faster I read, simply to finish and move on to something newer and better. The characters here are caricatures. It’s as if Zafon endowed them with one defining personality trait and then announced “Done!” Accordingly, they’re incapable of attracting our sympathy, problematic for a novel whose plot spins on the sympathetic interactions between characters.

All my least favorite things are here: love stories that become True Love before the characters have exchanged two words; a villain who is villainous because he is a villain who is villainous; a latent, insidious form of sexism where women are never agents and there are about 100 too many comments on their bodies and about 100 too few comments on any other aspect of their existence; and worst of all, an awesome concept—a Cemetery of Forgotten Books, where the sole remaining copies of literature go to die/rest in peace—that serves as scenery, not a motor for story.

Blah blah blah. I see Zafon popped another two of these out to complete an interconnected series. If I can give him one recompense, it’s for making the first one so bad that I’m not obliged to suffer through two more. Thank you, Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

1 out of 5 stars

 

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Review: Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

22609317Blurb:

HER PERFECT LIFE
IS A PERFECT LIE.

As a teenager at the prestigious Bradley School, Ani FaNelli endured a shocking, public humiliation that left her desperate to reinvent herself. Now, with a glamorous job, expensive wardrobe, and handsome blue blood fiancé, she’s this close to living the perfect life she’s worked so hard to achieve.

But Ani has a secret.

There’s something else buried in her past that still haunts her, something private and painful that threatens to bubble to the surface and destroy everything.

With a singular voice and twists you won’t see coming, Luckiest Girl Aliveexplores the unbearable pressure that so many women feel to “have it all” and introduces a heroine whose sharp edges and cutthroat ambition have been protecting a scandalous truth, and a heart that’s bigger than it first appears.

The question remains: will breaking her silence destroy all that she has worked for—or, will it at long last, set Ani free?

Review:

It’s become very trendy to compare any new thriller novel with a mid-book twist to Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, and true to form, blurbers have done the same with Luckiest Girl Alive, a story about a woman in her late 20s still suffering from the aftershock of a high school tragedy. The revelation as to what happened in this high school tragedy is, of course, the awaited twist, but unlike Flynn’s famous twist, it immediately pops a balloon, erasing all tension when the book is only half over.

Pretty strong evidence then that this character is not strong enough to carry a book. TifAni FaNelli (every time that freaking name appeared on the page it was like a dagger in my eye) is obnoxious, ungrateful, superficial, quite astonishingly stupid, but worst of all BORING. Say what you want about Gone Girl‘s Amy, but at least she wanted things. The problem with TifAni is a lack of any legitimate desire. There is no motor to her action, or maybe there is, but the motor is so faulty I couldn’t reduce myself to a level where I’d understand it.

I love a good thriller novel, but a good thriller novel is not constructed from a single really cool mysterious idea. The idea is a trunk, but trunks need branches and roots and leaves. Without these parts, a story is basically just a lump of wood.

1 star out of 5