Top critical review
Extremely Bizarre and Incredibly Disappointing.,
on 20 July 2012
Many of the more negative reviews of this book focus on the format but I am very much open to the way Foer breaks up the text and plays around with traditional formats. My main problems with this book were centred around the disappointment of the thing, after enjoying Everything Is Illuminated so much.
The central character is intriguing, and I enjoyed the almost stream-of-consciousness sidenotes and facts and ramblings that are peppered throughout the book. It mirrors the way people think, the randomness and vastness of knowledge and life itself. But the plot line was, at its heart, implusible to the point that I found myself wondering whether the entire thing was going to turn out to be a dream, or a massive metaphor for something that I didn't understand. It is rather incohesive... a collection of things that don't quite tie together into one whole, even after reaching the end and realising all the connections.
The book retains the interest in one's history and family background, as well as the quirky stylistic choices, of Everything Is Illuminated, but I didn't find it anywhere near as captivating or as funny in parts.
I read the Kindle edition which is mostly fine (no major typos - I assume the mildly annoying incorrect comma overusage in one character's letters is intentional) but some of the pictures inserted don't really have much of an impact in black and white - in fact, you can't tell what some of them are without reading the preceding text and taking an educated guess. There are also images of handwritten annotated letters which, even at the largest Kindle font setting, are too small to read. I squinted at my screen from an inch away for a while before giving up and moving on. As it turns out, much of the content I screwed my eyes up for was later repeated in 'normal' text format. I'm not sure what the function of the very long letters in image format was, on the whole.