BOOK REVIEW: THE DOLL FACTORY by ELIZABETH MACNEAL

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Image result for the doll factory by elizabeth macnealMacneal writes well, but her book lacks a certain depth.¬†Her characters’ motives are at once too transparent and too simple. You come to know¬†The Doll Factory‘s characters, but¬†that knowledge comes far too easily.¬†The problem is that Macneal writes with an explicitness that leaves no room for the reader to figure anything out for themselves. Every feeling and motivation is unambiguously spelled out in a way that flattens rather than develops the novel’s characters.¬†The result is characters so easily understandable that they’re rendered insubstantial.¬†And so what you essentially get is the literary equivalent of giving a PhD math student a middle school math curriculum‚ÄĒwhat’s easy is not necessarily what will be interesting.

More than that though, and possibly even worse,¬†Macneal’s characterization is often forced.¬†I found this to be the case specially in her descriptions of Iris and her twin sister’s strained relationship. The strain in the relationship I didn’t understand very well, and the resolution of that strain I understood even less.

One more thing:¬†I don’t like the way this story wraps up.¬†For 90% of this novel, we’re focused on Iris’s story: her ambitions, her relationships, her emotions. And then suddenly the story turns into some kind of¬†You-like stalker story with a completely different objective. It was jarring, and felt very markedly incongruous with the rest of the novel. Also, I just didn’t care about it lol.

Overall, a mediocre novel. It tries to do a lot, but never quite hits the mark.

three


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BOOK REVIEW: THE HEART’S INVISIBLE FURIES BY JOHN BOYNE

YALL BETTER BUCKLE UP BECAUSE I AM ABOUT TO¬†GUSH‚ĄĘ

I haven’t felt this excited to review a book in so long and IT’S SUCH A GOOD FEELING.¬†Like I’m sitting here staring at my screen vibrating with energy because I have so much love for this book and I need to put it into words somehow and I have so much to talk about and GAAAAH i loved it

I mean,¬†WOW. First and foremost,¬†I ADORED THIS BOOK. Out of the 81 books I’ve read this year,¬†The Heart’s Invisible Furies is the FIRST book to get a 5 stars, so yeah, not to exaggerate or anything but this book was nothing short of perfection.
The Heart’s Invisible Furies¬†was:¬†

1) COMPELLING:¬†Here are two facts: This book is 600 pages. I read it in two days. Look, I get distracted¬†very easily. When I read books, I often get antsy and start obsessively looking at the page number like every other page to see if I’m making any progress. I tend to take a lot of random breaks in between reading because of said tendency to get distracted.¬†But while I was reading¬†The Heart’s Invisible Furies, I was so utterly and completely engrossed.¬†I warmed up to this book almost immediately, basically within the space of a chapter. (I’m not kidding. This book had already made it to my favourites shelf by page 200.) And after that,¬†nothing and no one could pry my hands away from this book.¬†I wasn’t tempted to check my phone, I didn’t watch any TV‚ÄĒfor those two days, my goal was to do one thing and one thing only: READ THIS BOOK. Ultimately, that’s what I mean by “compelling.”¬†I just could not stop reading this book.¬†I cannot emphasize this enough. I know words like “captivating” and “riveting” are thrown around a lot, but damn this book really¬†was¬†captivating and riveting, intoxicatingly so.

2) CHARACTER-DRIVEN:¬†One of my favourite things to read in books is conversations. And guess what?¬†this book is like 99% conversations.¬†It’s basically comprised of a bunch of conversations between a bunch of people about a bunch of stuff. And let me tell you, I just ate. that. shit. up.¬†Boyne is a master at writing organic, funny, profound, momentous, heartfelt conversations.And never for a moment does his dialogue feel stilted or forced. Actually, this aspect of Boyne’s writing really reminds me of Jane Austen’s writing. Just like Austen gives each of her characters idiolects‚ÄĒa style of speech specific to the character’s personality‚ÄĒBoyne writes dialogue that is not just effective in its structure, but also in its ability to both uncover layers from and add layers onto his characters.

3) FUNNY AS HELL:¬†THIS BOOK IS HILARIOUS. Yes it’s filled with tragedy and and bigotry and trauma, but it’s also so consistently and undeniably funny. And it’s never funny in a way that belittles its darker moments, either.¬†The humour doesn’t deflate the book’s drama or undermine it‚ÄĒit¬†coexists¬†with it.

4) SWEEPING:¬†This book tracks protagonist Cyril Avery’s entire lifetime in 7-year increments, from 7 years old onwards. So, remember when I said this book was character-driven? Yeah, it’s because¬†it does such an amazing job crafting its protagonist’s life.¬†Its format allows you to watch Cyril grapple with so much as he grows up and comes to terms with his identity and relationships. The result? CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT GALORE.

5) SO, SO ENDEARING:¬†This book made me cry so much, and not even because it was sad or tragic. (Though that’s not to say that this book has no sad moments because it¬†does¬†and they are SAD.) I cried because I was just so overwhelmed by how far Cyril had come since he was a confused lil bean struggling with his identity and place in the world. I was so proud of him and what he’d managed to accomplish given his circumstances and…I was just very emotional ok.

What more can I say?¬†The Heart’s Invisible Furies¬†was just a brilliant story, and that’s really what this book comes down to.

five


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BOOK REVIEW: THE BUTCHER’S HOOK BY JANET ELLIS

Well, this was just deliciously wicked

If I had to describe¬†The Butcher’s Hook’s writing style in one word, I’d choose¬†sharp. Ellis’s writing immediately feels very measured, like she’s carefully considered what she wants to convey and precisely¬†how¬†she wants to convey it.¬†And word by word, Ellis creates the acerbic, fierce, and starkly¬†present¬†protagonist that is Anne.¬†And boy did I love being inside Anne’s head. As twisted as her thoughts could sometimes (always) be, they always made a strange kind of sense.¬†And as a reader, I’m not so much interested in condoning characters’ actions so much as I am in¬†understanding¬†them‚ÄĒand with Anne, I always understood (though definitely not condoned lol).¬†To put it simply, she was compelling as hell.

The Butcher’s Hook¬†was a feminist historical fiction novel with a badass anti-heroine and razor sharp writing.¬†Is anyone really all that surprised that I loved it?

four


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