The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy ★★

Read 1/27/20 – 1/28/20

Update 8%: I keep stopping to restart this because I feel like I am zoning out at the start. I don’t think it’s the book’s fault entirely; part of it is my state of mind. Nevertheless, I’m using some online resources because if I can figure out whose who I can focus better. Is that cheating? Don’t tell my lit teacher.

Update 68%: This isn’t really working for me. I’m having the worst time following the characters. I googled it, and I made myself memorize who the the mom’s name is and who the kids are, but I’m still only getting bits and pieces. I feel like I’m wasting my time here. I am not going to give up just yet.

DNF at 78%: I could have “finished” this, but I didn’t feel like I could do that in good conscience. I restarted the audiobook on this 3 or 4 times (about half an hour in each time) because I could tell it wasn’t sticking from the start. I eventually did some googling and understood the story followed the twins and, for a time, their mother. That kept me informed enough to keep up with the story as it focused on her. Once the focus shifted, any handle I had on understanding what was going on, vanished.

I really wanted to like this, but in the end, I couldn’t follow the characters which meant the situations didn’t make sense. When I don’t have situational context of each moment in the story, it doesn’t stick. It’s like driving and realizing you don’t remember how you got where you’re at. Clearly, you were focused on the driving, but your mind didn’t consider it worth retaining. That is what this became. I tried so hard to follow. I don’t usually restart a book; I’m of the opinion that a book should be readable on its own. This one was special; it was one I really wanted to enjoy. Sometimes, I may be slow on the uptick, but it all would come together in the end. It was clear that wasn’t the case here.

The academic in me wants to drop everything and pick up the physical book to study it until it makes sense. That’s because I feel like there is a good story here to be loved. Sadly, I have too many other books I know I’ll enjoy more. This one had it’s chance. I may return to it, forgoing the audiobook, but not any time soon. You have no idea how much this pains me. 2/5 stars.

Rating Break Down
Writing Style: 5/10
Plot: 5/10
Characters: 5/10
Ending: 0/10
Engagement: 4/10
Enjoyment: 5/10
Comprehension: 3/10
Pacing: 5/10
Desire to Reread: 5/10
Special: 3/10
Final Rating: 2.2/5
Note, each rating is weighted based on personal importance.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro ★★★★★

Started 12/11/19 (82%)

I am loving this book. I had a rough start because the novel wasn’t the traditional dystopian novel, and I even had to double check Goodreads to make sure I wasn’t confused by what the genre was. I think that speaks to how original this story is. It starts at this sort of boarding school where we are following the point of view of one of the young students attending the school. The trick is, this isn’t a normal boarding school, and these aren’t normal students.

Ishiguro reveals details about this dark future bit by bit. The story follows this woman and those around her as they grow. Along the way, it is easy to become deceived into thinking this is the world as we know it, but we are constantly reminded that there is something off. As our characters grow, they attempt to make a life for themselves in this future that isn’t quite life as we know it. The details are minimal but just enough to unnerve us.

Finished 12/12/19 (just after midnight)

I really should be in bed. That was my intent, but then I realized I couldn’t go to bed, not until I finished this book. I am so happy with this book. I started it worried I wouldn’t be able to follow what I was expecting to be a literary novel, given its Noble Peace Prize. However, that did not impede on the readability. I’ve already given a rundown of the novel above. Having now completed it, I stand by what I said. It may start confusing, but Ishiguro brings the story full circle by the end of the novel in a heartbreaking and compelling character driven story that simultaneously works to reveal the dark reality of this dystopian world.

This is without a doubt one of my favorites of the year. I loved the concept, the themes, the writing, and the plot. It all worked so well, and I hope to reread it again eventually. 5/5 stars.