3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A tale with clipped wings
, 22 May 2013
This review is from: The Crane Wife (Hardcover)
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Let me preface this review by saying that Patrick Ness is a truly beautiful writer. He lovingly crafts a quite brilliant range of characters - four-year-old JP was the star of the book for me, speaking in the half-nonsense questioning language of bright young children. Unfortunately it also failed to satisfy me, for reasons I will try to explain.
Superficially the novel follows the story of the Japanese myth of the Crane Wife, transported to modern day London, but the mix of myth and introspection never quite gelled for me. There's a supernatural subplot which felt always too thinly sketched and almost tangential to the book - I wanted more time with the very engaging real-life people who Ness brought to life so well. I found myself reading very quickly through whole passages of the book, left with the sense that while it felt like it was saying something profound it was, in fact, what Daniel Dennett aptly calls a 'deepity'. In short, the experience was like reading a well-written equivalent of Paulo Coelho - on the first glance it says something deep about love and forgiveness, but when you look too hard it all feels paper-thin.
George is a shy, lonely man who -in possibly the most mundane and ridiculous circumstances- rescues a wounded crane which has landed in his garden. The next day, a mysterious woman, Kumiko (whose mystery is described ad nauseam to the reader) walks into his print shop with a suitcase full of paper-cut artwork. George and Kumiko fall in love, in a relationship meant to restore George's confidence, although it all happens too fast to be believable. Kumiko is too thinly-sketched to ever feel real and while that is meant to be the point, the myth on which the story hangs, it never feels like enough.
Nonetheless, this book left me interested enough in Ness's writing to want to read his young adult works - when he is not trying so hard to be so serious he really comes into his element and I would highly recommend The Chaos Walking trilogy.
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