A slew of reviews of TM
Book Addiction loved the beginning, hated the middle, liked the ending: "And the multiple points of view (constantly changing without rhyme or reason) sort of annoyed me. And confused me. Also, I missed hearing so much from Liga – she was the only character I really liked, so I wanted more from her."
Rhapsody in Books was pretty pleased with it generally: "It didn’t quite win my heart as much as the “Fractured Fairy Tales” segment on “Rocky and Bullwinkle” [well, I wasn't aiming that high!] but I loved the idea of upending the usual patriarchal assumptions."
A solid, intelligent review over at Evening All Afternoon has a lot of questions about the ending:
Is it supposed to be part of the magic of the situation that Urdda has come to complete apathy or acceptance (which is it?) of humanity's violence to humanity, and her own subjugated state as a woman, in the space of a single night? Is this change of feeling engendered by violence? I find it hard to believe that any simple act of retribution could really slake such a deep hurt. Is there some kind of key in the fact that the violence Urdda causes is unintentional, or righteous? Either idea strikes an uncomfortable chord in an otherwise beautifully resonant book.
Nonesuch Book is really not mad about it on a large and small scale (the dialect misfires for this reader):
I think that I have hit upon what bothers me most about the book. Lanagan could not decide whether to write a children's book or an adult's book. It is neither appropriate for many children and young adults or as dark and probing as required by many adults. The feminist themes strike me as simplistic. The second half of the book dragged on in largely uninteresting exposition. And then when I put my children's librarian hat on ...Comments are interesting on this one, too. (e.g. "also curious how the fans of the novel could forgive Lanagan such pathetic excuses for dialect as 'et by a bear,' 'moon babs,' 'littlee man' and the like.")
This Book and I Could Be Friends thinks it's twice as long as it ought to be: "I almost couldn't get past the rape scene (luckily, it's a fade-out) and was seriously weirded out by a certain episode involving Branza and a man-bear. ...Plus, the dialect - i.e. 'littlee-man' and bab/babby - is half-hearted and ridiculous." And note to Margo: Don't read those comments if you're ever feeling fragile.
...while Piling on the Books
liked the middle part of this book very much, with the outsiders and the daughters dealing with them and their lives and Liga sort of seeing what kind of world she lived in. But the beginning part was squicky, and the ending part dragged on a little long and sort of danced around whatever points Lanagan was trying to make.
Which all goes to show that:
- You can never get the pacing (or the content!) right for everyone, and
- a book looks very different from the inside than it does from the outside. In so many different ways.
UPDATE: Ah, three of the above are a non-structured reading group. A fourth member delivers his verdict over here, and the rest pile on again, stacks on the mill.