Her fearful symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger
Genre: general fiction, sff
Elspeth died while Robert was standing in front of a vending machine watch tea shoot into a small plastic cup.
For a lot of this book I really really liked it. I never quite loved it; but for a while I did really enjoy it. The writing is great. And the premise was interesting. But it just didn’t work in the end. And I think that one of the major problems was that the character who makes this big decision, well, I just didn’t get why she made it. And I really didn’t understand why other characters went along with her. That wasn’t the only problem, it just meant that I was less forgiving of the others.
However there are positives about this book too. Niffenegger has some writing quirks that won’t endear her to everyone. The switching of POVs for example is something I’m sure plenty of people won’t be too happy with. And it did cause me to reread sentences on occasion, just to be sure I knew who’s POV I was reading. What I didn’t like was her habit of having the characters speak and then telling us what they were really thinking in the very next line. It might work if just one character was doing it at a time, but she’ll often have characters having a conversation and both speaking and then translating what they think in the very next line. It annoyed me as much as it worked.
However I did really like the opening third. It was a slow and deliberate build-up of atmosphere. Unfortunately the characters never really came to life for me. I liked Robert, but never understood him all that much. The second third I kept waiting for the plot to kick in. And the final third I disliked because, as I said before, it didn’t really make all that much sense to me.
I suppose you might be waiting for some sort of plot summary, well you was wait away, because I don’t intend to give one. Not because the book is dependent on twists and spoilers, although it does have some, but because by the end of the book I just didn’t feel that the plot mattered. And most of the characters I disliked or was ambivalent about. Robert and Elspeth’s story had changed from one that made you care about them to one that simply made you wonder why they had bothered in the first place.
That all sounds very negative, but to be honest the book is very readable, and parts of it are so well written! So I don’t want to be all “this book sucked” because it didn’t. It just should have been so much better and so, in a way, is a disappointment.