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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly slight, thin characters, but gripping entertainment, 16 Oct. 2013
This review is from: Big Brother (Hardcover)
Shriver can write. She can write very engagingly indeed. This is the first novel, in as long as I can remember, when I wasn't bored for even a single second! In fact, I think I am correct in saying that, in my experience and from my point of view, this novel is unique in its complete lack of longueurs! I cannot say that about even my most favourite novels (which Big Brother is very far from being.) So I have to give Lionel Shriver major credit for managing what (probably) no other novelist has ever managed to do for me.

And I took great pleasure in many of her sentences which, while hardly being the stuff of great poetry, were never less than thoughtful and intelligent and were, often, very funny and, sometimes, even able to move. And all of this is no mean feat considering that the novel's narrator, Pandora, is really rather bland. The character of Edison is somewhat more interesting, but I was never really convinced that he was more than a series of tics and quirks and jazz-clichés. And I was similarly unconvinced by Shriver's portrayal of the teenage characters, who both seemed to be based on American indie movie stock-types that we've seen a thousand times before.

The story definitely has legs, but I had a hard time believing much of it, even as I was enjoying the ride. As an exploration of the phenomenon of morbid obesity, the overall effect was a bit too flippant for my tastes. There were plenty of comic set-pieces, but I could have done with a bigger helping of seriousness and a bit more density in the characterization and plot. Hell, I think I'm asking for more boring bits! But without those, perhaps this novel is a bit like a meal which has been trimmed of all the fat - it might sit lightly, but it fails to properly satisfy (or properly nourish!)
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Location: Staffs, United Kingdom

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