Customer Review

106 of 118 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars My dominant feeling on finishing this book was one of ..., 26 Nov 2013
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This review is from: The Luminaries (Hardcover)
My dominant feeling on finishing this book was one of self-congratulation in actually having made it to the end. I have joined the elite band of readers who have done so, but I have not made it to the super-elite group who not only finished it, but understood it (but then I wonder if there are many at all in this category).
Normally, I would give Booker-prizewinners a wide berth, fearing over-intellectualism and incomprehensible story lines, but here was one with a crime/mystery theme, and by a New Zealand author, and I'm a NZer myself so, here we go...
For the first 150 pages, I thought my Booker prejudices were validated: hard going, put-downable, especially when I considered the hundreds of pages still to come. But I stuck with it and, very gradually, I found myself getting drawn in, with a mounting curiosity as to where it was going (as one might hope with a mystery). Things were looking up! (aided, I should say, means of one of the characters providing a 2-3 page summary of the story so far at the end of Part I, some 350 pages in - very helpful, this, you can look forward to it). And so on to the full 827 pages, but, after all that, to a damp-squibbish ending. Was that it? - after all that?
Notwithstanding the critics' accolades, I dare to say I can't understand how this story can be highly rated. The book is far, far, too long, moving at a glacial pace; the story is stupifyingly complex, propped up with far too many coincidental events and long-shot chance happenings; then there's the sleight-of-hand techniques such as two characters having the same name (or was it one character having two names? - can't remember, it's gone); and don't get me started on the resolution of the "missing bullet" saga - I'll keep this from you. Is this really award-winning stuff?
For me, the star of the book is the town of Hokitika and, in this aspect, I am fulsome in my praise for Catton's description of the era of the 19th-century gold rush in NZ's South Island, particularly on the West Coast; it's highly informative and enjoyable in that respect. It's a pity it's taken such a cumbersome vehicle to convey this.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 15 Jan 2014 05:48:44 GMT
Gerard P. says:
I was wondering whether to bother writing a review of my own - when I read this one. And it pretty much says what I would have wanted to say myself. A virtuoso piece of writing, without a doubt. But far, far too long. Read the author's first work, 'The Rehearsal'. Which is in my view more innovative and more revealing. Thanks for your comments, which were in a sense a comfort...

Posted on 2 Apr 2014 23:56:13 BDT
I so agree with you, having read it on a Kobo, I would have preferred an actual book to allow me to easilly flick back & try to work out who was who. I too was relieved to actually finish it, but couldn't believe that was IT. Glad to know it wasn't just me. Far too long, for too many characters, too much repetition, just too laborious, I was determined to finish it & then I wondered why I'd bothered. Like you in future I shall avoid Booker prize winners.
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