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65 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even better than the real thing
A Girl is a Half-formed Thing, proudly bearing a quote from Anne Enright on the front cover of the Australian edition, reminds readers of what The Gathering might have been.

The style is experimental. Verbs are scarce - apparently Eimear McBride wanted to portray just what the girl saw - and sentences tend to be fragmentary. In particular, in the opening...
Published 7 months ago by MisterHobgoblin

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Different
This is written in the style of a stream of consciousness and it is very hard to get used to. It follows a girl from infancy to adulthood and her troubled life and what occurs to her. As it starts from infancy the beginning is very hard to follow as as well as it not being in proper sentences the thought processes are jumbled as it is a child. It gets easier to follow as...
Published 7 days ago by Justhavingfun


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65 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Even better than the real thing, 11 Dec 2013
By 
MisterHobgoblin (Melbourne) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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A Girl is a Half-formed Thing, proudly bearing a quote from Anne Enright on the front cover of the Australian edition, reminds readers of what The Gathering might have been.

The style is experimental. Verbs are scarce - apparently Eimear McBride wanted to portray just what the girl saw - and sentences tend to be fragmentary. In particular, in the opening sections when the girl is a young child, the ideas are not even half-formed and the narrative is hard to follow. The reader has to read between the lines. Later on, as the girl passes through teenage and on to young adulthood, the ideas are clearer and the narrative has a firmer shape. This could be a relief, except that the subject matter becomes darker and darker as the narrative clears.

Growing up in rural Ireland some time ago (exact timing is not clear, probably 1980s/1990s), life has dealt the girl a modest hand. There are people in the world far worse off, but there are others who have landed up with broader horizons and happier home lives. The girl's father has died; her brother is a brain tumour survivor; her uncle is creepy and her mother lacks any strength of resolve. Despite this, the girl manages to fly the nest and study at university.

The novel does have a plot - and a slow-burning shocker it is too - but the strength is the use of this extraordinary narrative style to build a world and build a person. It is not so much about what happens to the girl as about how it affects the girl. How and whether it changes her development. This is the joy of the title - we see a young person with a distinctive personality nevertheless being moulded and shaped as she grow by those around her. Right up until the end, it's not quite clear what the final shape will be, how nature and nurture will resolve their struggle against one another.

The narrative style does come with frustrations too. There's no point pretending that there weren't times that I wanted to throw the book across the room, slowly plodding through a soupy mire of abstractions. There were times one wanted to tell Eimear to just get on with it - especially the first half of the final section feels overlong. But miraculously, it is all pulled back at the end; all the effort seems worthwhile and the flabby sections no longer feel flabby. There is great beauty in the novel, but you only appreciate it by standing back at the end and seeing the whole. Does that sound pretentious?

There have been comparisons made to Joyce and Beckett. I can see that, though this is not as abstract as Finnegan's Wake, not as narrative as Ulysses and a whole lot warmer than Beckett. If anything, it reminded me of Edna O'Brien's Country Girls or John McGahern's The Dark - provincial and unexpectedly primitive, but with bright lights of opportunity shining through at times. There is a risk that Girl is a derivative, imitative work that will be dismissed as a fraud. But right here, right now, it feels like a genuine, authentic article that represents the emergence of a monster talent. If I had doubts when I laid the book down, they are evaporating by the hour. Girl has the hallmarks of a major work of our time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Different, 16 July 2014
This is written in the style of a stream of consciousness and it is very hard to get used to. It follows a girl from infancy to adulthood and her troubled life and what occurs to her. As it starts from infancy the beginning is very hard to follow as as well as it not being in proper sentences the thought processes are jumbled as it is a child. It gets easier to follow as the girl grows up and I quite enjoyed reading a book in a different style and it does read like poetry at times which I also found to be quite interesting as a change. The girls has a younger brother with a brain tumour and as a result the girl has quite a difficult and emotional life which comes across in the book. The girls life progressively gets worse and builds to an interesting climax. I would recommend this as a read, I quite enjoyed it and read it very fast and as something a bit different it is very refreshing to read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars ... quarters of the way through decided there was a better use of my time, 11 July 2014
This review is from: A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing (Paperback)
Not often I give up on a book but three quarters of the way through decided there was a better use of my time. Felt the stream of consciousness writing was over done and failed to disguise an unoriginal plot.
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129 of 162 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This is a half-formed book, 26 May 2014
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I have written a review of A Girl is a Half-formed Thing in the style of in which this book is written.

Bad bad bad book. Writing style terrible hard to read impossible to lose self in. No character insight no character sympathetic. Plot full horrible happenings then very implausible action from narrator then even more horrible happenings. Too. Many. Full. Stops. Twohundredandtwentypages of this. More fun writing than reading. Still ask why author did it? Innovative avant garde style? Published bamboozled critics Bailey’s prize nominated Bailey’s prize shortlisted. No clothes emperor.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Depressing, 15 July 2014
By 
Patricia Finnerty (Westmeath, Ireland) - See all my reviews
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I read this book in 3 sittings . The first two I was just getting into the story, the third I read on, hoping for some redemption, someone to discover this girls blight and help climb out of her vicious sordid cycle of decline. This never happened. The writing style was Joyce like and clever.
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48 of 65 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Style over substance, 14 April 2014
By 
Christopher Sullivan (edinburgh) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing (Paperback)
“For you. You’ll soon. You’ll give her name. In the stitches of her skin she’ll wear your say. Mammy me? Yes you. Bounce the bed, I’d say. I’d say that’s what you did. They lay you down. They cut you round. Wait and hour and day.”

The Microsoft Word document that this review is being written on is resplendent with green wavy lines urging me to rectify the grammatical mistakes in the above paragraph. And when I right click the computer mouse on those words that are underlined it states that what is written is a ‘fragment’. Fragmented is certainly one of the first words that came to this reader’s mind on reading the opening paragraph of this novel and it continues in that fragmented, disconcerting style for all of its 200 pages.
Born to a Catholic mother, the father long gone and her sibling brother still suffering the effects of a childhood brain tumour, the un-named girl leads us through this bildungsroman novel that begins with the protagonist in the womb. Through her life the un-named girl is continually fighting for her mother’s attention and love but is always second best to her ‘martyred’ brother who can do no wrong in his mother’s eyes.
This fragmented novel, which is almost devoid of any punctuation other than the full stop, took six months to write but nine years to find a publisher. This is not surprising as this novel is a difficult read and will certainly scare off the faint-hearted reader who is looking for a more straight-forward style of prose. But, one shouldn’t criticize those readers too heavily as this is a, to put it bluntly, an experimental novel; it is I believe the author’s attempt to redefine the novel.
The novel’s stylized manner reminded me of the ‘cut-up’ technique popularized by William Burroughs in the 1950s and 60s. The incongruous syntax is disconcerting and at times distancing which is ironic as the novel is the internal dialogue of the protagonist and so should make us connect with the girl at an emotional and empathetic level.
The characters of the deeply religious, brimstone and fire Catholic mother and the perverted uncle who has sex with the girl when she is thirteen and continues to do so for years afterward are mundane, hackneyed and redolent of so many ‘Irish Novels’. The plot is wafer thin, the ending obvious and at times I felt that I was reading a novel more suited to the misery lit genre.
I admire the author for writing what is a daring, worthy, brave and admirable novel but those words only connect with the unconventional, style of writing and not the plot and characters. One has to doff their literary hat to the author’s attempt to change the face of the novel, to possibly pushing readers to look differently at the novel in the 21st century. But, this reader sees it only as a novelty act that will only be remembered for a short time and remembered only for its style and not its substance. It will become a book like Tolstoy’s War and Peace, Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged and James Joyce’s Ulysses where readers will never admit to the fact that they never finished it.

First Line – “For you.”
Memorable Line – None

Number of Pages - 2003
Sex Scenes – Yes and graphic
Profanity – Yes
Genre - Fiction
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33 of 45 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Wish I could give zero stars, 15 May 2014
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I'll probably be slated for saying this but.....I'm fed up with the latest faddy literary device for having the narration spoken by some one in a child's voice, an autistic voice, a foreign language voice.etc. I'm sorry to say that I simply find it pretentious and extremely difficult. I know, I know that wonderful, possibly superhuman effort and research has gone into the writing and, if you stick with it, you eventually get the hang of it. But, I'm sorry, it's all too much effort. Emma Donoghue did for me in "The Room". I'm still recovering from the effort I made on that and I lasted about two pages with this one.
Not for me. Those of you with great patience and perseverance, go enjoy!
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18 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, enriching and depleting, 30 Sep 2013
By 
D. Nicolaou - See all my reviews
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I finished this book a few weeks ago but it still seems to haunt me. Quick to read but dense with brutality and tenderness and laced with dark, dark humour it burrows deep into your soul only to resurface when you least expect it. Some may be put off by the style, but within a few pages it seems as natural as the thoughts in your head. It might not be for everyone, but for those that are prepared to invest themselves in it, this book will reward them again and again.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazingly accomplished., 10 July 2014
By 
P. Gilbey - See all my reviews
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An important book, but more than that an enjoyable one. Much closer to poetry than prose. Don't look for meaning, feel it. I didn't think this was at all difficult in the way some readers have suggested, or in the way I find Joyce and Beckett 'difficult'. It is difficult in its themes, in its uncompromising look at life. But that is what makes it important and that is what makes it cut through the layers of thought and reason and reach the part other books cannot. It was amazingly accomplished, I felt in making you understand what was happening with so few signposts. Read it if you enjoy seeing where words can take you, and if you love language.
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13 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An achievement!, 21 Sep 2013
This was one of the most difficult and enjoyable books I have read.
The language of the narrator, the subject matter, the matter of fact way the details of the narrator's life are described in literary language as processes of thought rather than the spoken word all make this book a challenging and moving read. However difficult the language appears, press on. It so cleverly describes all that is necessary to make this a moving portrayal of the life of used, abused and self abusing young woman who tries, against all odds, to carve out a better life for herself and an ill sibling. An achievement!
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A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing
A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride (Paperback - 10 April 2014)
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