2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Ignore the gimmick and just read the book,
This review is from: The Luminaries (Kindle Edition)
I was bought this by my kids for Christmas because "it's a big book and Daddy likes reading" ... Well, they weren't wrong - it's a real brick of a book. Which is not to make any comment on the contents.
The story is set in the New Zealand gold rush years, in the town of Hokitika and pulls in an array of characters from various walks of life - shipping agents, politicians, pharmacists, prostitutes, prospectors, opium fiends, Maoris and more. Each (major) character is associated with a star sign, and each portion of the book aligns the actions with what is predicted for those signs in the heavens.
I confess, I found that "gimmick" a little pointless. I started looking up what it all meant but soon got bored and just settled in to enjoy the story. I'm not convinced the astrological stuff adds much at all, and it runs the risk of frightening readers off.
The story though is a good old boys own type adventure concerning missing/stolen/lost/misappropriated gold, a possible murder, and a lot of town politics, with a few side plots thrown in for good measure. There's certainly no shortage of things happening, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
There are two areas where I feel it falls down a bit:
- (I assume) in an attempt to create an "old-fashioned" novel feel, there is a lot of showing not telling (so and so did this, such and such looked like that, this happened for that reason), which is not a problem in itself, but I did sometimes feel that I'd like to be allowed to work out some of the minor things by myself rather than being spoon fed them like that.
- The ending: After working through a lot of detailed activity the last few chapters rush the reader through to the end of the book, tying up all the loose ends as quickly as possible. It felt a little bit like Catton had got bored with the whole thing and needed to get it over and done with. Perhaps it is connected to the astrological stuff, but since I'd long since given up on working that out I really couldn't say.