Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Reader


Happy New Year Everyone! As Ailsa mentioned in previous post, there will be lots more books reviews coming soon :)

The Reader tells the story of Michael and his relationship with an older woman, Hanna. Later, as a law student, he is faced with the fact that Hanna is now facing criminal charges for her part in the holocaust.

Pretty succinct description isn't it? If I were to use the back cover summary I would mention that "Hanna is not all that she seems" or that Michael is "shocked" to find her in the dock, and that "she is desperately concealing an even deeper secret. . . " but the fact is I did not feel these descriptions are true to the book.

I was engaged with this story at first, but I have to admit this was a slow read for me. The writing is excellent and simple - it should have been a page turner but it ended up as one of those 2-3 pages a night sort of books. I put my lack of enthusiasm down to the fact that this book doesn't evoke any emotion, feeling or thought. It definitely sets out to do it, touching on two subjects a] conflict of the person vs. the action b] the whole issue of illiteracy c] how one relationship can impact the rest of your life. But I didn't come away with an 'after thought', this book didn't stay with me or cause me to think about the issues. There was no ripple effect for me.

We are told about Michael's struggle with Hanna, his feelings for her and the realisation of her secret all right, but for me it doesn't connect - because the information is given by the author and not teased out by the reader. There is no subtlety in this book, no interpretation needed or reading between the lines, which disappointed me alot.

It felt like there was no heart, if that makes sense?

Regarding the plot, the 'deeper secret' is obvious from the start. It was only after rereading the back cover did I realise that this was meant to be a twist?!?

That being said, the first section of this book was excellent, I felt Michael's angst and confusion concerning Hanna, but then as the book progressed it turned into a reporting of the events. I was reading the words on the page, but not imagining the events in my mind's eye.

I didn't intend to be this negative about the book, it didn't irk me or cause any reaction in me - but I think that's the problem and the source of this negative review. It was just a so-so book that didn't do anything for me.

The writing is excellent, and it is the basis for an award winning film, so maybe i'm missing something but i'm only giving this book 5 stars.

Love to hear from other people who've read this book, especially if your opinion differs.

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