Monday, May 13, 2013

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple



What's the book about?

Bee, a 15 year old girl, tells the story of how her mother Bernadette disappeared in thin air. We pass through e-mails, conversations, any type of communication Bee managed to find that could shed some light as to why her mother flee their house in Seattle, days before they planned trip to Antartica. No one really knows what trigger the apparent collapse of this agoraphobic character, but Bee is determined to put the pieces of the puzzle together and to find her mother in the way.

What was the thing I liked the most? 

At first I thought I knew the characters; this feeling of the predictable type forming in my head. Yet, trough the book they have several turns that although not utterly surprising where not completely predictable either. I'm trying to not give away much with spoilers, but I was not expecting the side characters to grow on me as much as they did either a kind or mean, they all left a mark. 

What about the main character?

I'm going to work with Bernadette as the main character, although is very rare that we hear her side of the story, mostly everything is told by someone else. Bernadette is a 50 years old architect, we learn she is supposed to be a genius and as such (apparently) she does not cope well with failure and indirectly with personal relationships. In this case, she dwells in sorrow for some horrible thing that happened to her in the past and is unable to move on...although I have to say, maybe unable is not the word, more like reluctant. However, when she is with her daughter, she is happy again, she is herself. Bee knows the person underneath the "cold" exterior that everyone else seems to get.

Final thoughts

When I first started reading the book I was afraid it was going to be just like it was with I don't know how she does it, full of e-mails, broken conversations and characters I could not feel any empathy for. As it turns out, in this book the construction of the story through side character's communications ended up giving me a nice image of what was going on with the main characters. I liked Bernadette, not all the time, but most of it. Bee is a nice character and is not a carbon copy teenager that we so often see in books lately. Elgie, Bee's father got on my nerves a few times but at the end the fought and gain some love from this reader.

The reason why I'm giving this book a 3 is because, first of all, I was left hanging with the side characters. For situations that took such a big place in the whole situation I would've expected to know what happened with them. I don't know if this is intended to be a second part book, but I was under the impression this was supposed to be a stand-alone piece. 

Second of all, although the book had funny moments, it fell flat a couple of times and mostly I ended up wondering if this was in did it, if I was not missing some pages.


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn





What's the book about?

About 20 years ago, Libby Day lost all of her family in a mass murder event. She was the only survivor. That is if you don't count her brother who was accused of committing the murders and her father that was never really there. Libby has not cope well and as it turns out she has pretty much isolated herself from the world. This changes when she learns that the money she has been living with is almost gone and she meets "The Kill Club", a group of people obsessed with her family murders and convinced that her brother did not do it. Libby will talk to the people involved, something she has been avoiding all of her life, for a price. But as she digs in the mystery surrounding the murders all of what she believed might change.

What was the thing I liked the most? 

Flynn is very talented at telling a story. In this particular book, she decided to go with a double time line which allows us to see what's happening to Libby right now and then see what was going on with her brother and mother on the day of the murders. This was the part I enjoyed the most of the book, since it kept me going through the pages wanting to know what happen next.

What about the main character?

As was the case with Sharp Objects, the main character has serious issues that she has decided to live with. She knows she is messed up but does nothing to change this. She is not likable and she knows it, but she uses this to remain on herself. She will guide you, reluctantly, through her life and will be very protective of what she feels is her story and no one else's.

Final thoughts

I really liked Sharp Objects. As you advanced in it, the characters seemed more and more messed up but that made them more interesting. Unfortunately, the characters in Dark Places were not surprising. From the beginning they had issues, yet it didn't grow, it was always the same character. Although I wouldn't call the end predictable, it did not surprise me as it did on Sharp Objects. That said, it was a good book, just not an outstanding one. I already have Gone Girl and I'm hoping Flynn got her eeriness back on full mode!.