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Top customer reviews
This is one of those "everything's connected" kind of stories, which in a way reminds me of the film "Fish Story" (an obscure Japanese rock band's one recorded album actually saves the world).
One thing I subconsciously look out for when reading a novel or watching a film/show is characterisation - the people involved in the story, are they in character, and do they act or think without breaking out of character? In Harris's novel, all the characters have their own personalities, and none of them do anything that seems out of place.
The story is an absolute hoot to read - very easy prose, very easy to follow, and the reader always wants to know what's going to happen next. This novel is definitely a page turner, and it's a fun romp in the World According To Harris.
Although the novel is written in the third person, there are more than a few occasions where thoughts are written in the first person followed by ", thought Brian." This makes the story feel more personalised, sort of putting the reader in the shoes of the character who's thinking or talking to himself/herself - I feel ambivalent about this for novel (it feels fine in a short story where word count is tight).
This is where the novel loses 1 star. There were lots of mistakes! Typos, grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, repeated words, redundant words, missing words (usually a missing 'of' or a missing auxiliary verb). A few times, I had to re-read sentences where a comma would have given the meaning on first reading.
The novel was extremely entertaining to read. It definitely deserves a 2nd edition where Harris should employ a good proofreader to tighten up the script. Nevertheless, definitely recommended reading!
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Part of what makes this book so enjoyable is what in fact makes it so important: Its incisive and provocative social commentary. This element of the text is very subtle, which allows the reader to laugh at the characters' failings (no matter how close to --or far from-- our own) while simultaneously gently prodding us to look at ourselves. Without preachy moralizing, Ms Harris manages to tug very compellingly at the frayed ends of definitions of core concepts like ethics, sanity, and identity. The author shows us how tragically irresponsible human nature can be, even to itself, when moments of crisis disrupt our lives and force us to "define" who we are. What makes this book such a success and delight is that the author manages to explore this heavy area of thought through masterful use of humor and satire. She shows us how, even in times and situations of great tumult, the human mind can fixate upon the ridiculous-- and, sometimes, there is nothing more serious or thought-provoking than that.
When, for example, Pete (one of the main characters) finds himself in trouble--serious trouble--at a crucial moment (no spoilers here--read the book!), his "boy band" response is hilariously inappropriate, disturbing, but yet so true-to-life that one can't help but think about how in our own ways we sabotage ourselves in similar fashion. It provokes thought. It makes us think and see ourselves through the lens of other characters, and yet it allows us to laugh as we do so.
The humor which is such a prominent part of this book is balanced by a kind of intense crisis which it takes most of the book to unravel. So, as one laughs through the read (I found on average at least one full belly-laugh per page, though more is often the case), the laughter is balanced by the hulking, umbrous shadows which hang over several of the characters and permeate the text. As the plot thickens, the shapes of these shadows change and morph into unexpectedly "novel" developments, and the dramatic tension created makes this book impossible to put down.
The wonderful twists and turns here are evident even on the first page in the delightful "prologue" which sets the tone of the whole novel. The range of dramatic turns in those opening lines prepares the reader for what is to come in the pages which follow: a truly "fantastic voyage" from the brilliant mind of Elise Harris. If the blurb on the back cover of my copy is correct--that this is her first novel--her second and those following will be more than worth the wait.
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