Customer Review

114 of 121 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An evocation, not a thriller, December 30, 1999
This review is from: Snow Falling on Cedars: A Novel (Paperback)
Snow Falling on Cedars is an interesting, low-keyed book about a time and a place unfamiliar to most readers.I enjoyed a it lot, both for its language and its human insights. I would never have expected, however, that this book would generate such extremely divergent responses from readers. Some think it is the best thing they ever read and others damn it as a waste of time. There is no question that much of what the critical reviews say is true: the book is slow, it is very long on detail, it jumps around in time, it doesn't focus on the 'mystery' and the trial, and the ending is somewhat predictable. But none of these things can be criticisms unless the author intended the book to be more fast paced, plot driven, and have a snappy surprise ending. The readers are really complaining that the book is not what they wanted or expected it to be - some more traditional mystery, love story, thriller type book - the kind of books that the shelves and best seller lists are full of and that demand nothing from the reader and deliver even less.
This book, on the contrary, is an evocation of time and place. It is largely 'memory' even though it is not a first person narrative. It asks the reader to relax into a poetic reverie on who these people are and how they came to the situation upon which the plot turns. The author does not push the mystery element except as an excuse to uncover more information about his characters, their relationships and the origins of their current lives.
Not everyone enjoys this kind of book. Certainly those who gravitate towards Jackie Collins or John Grisham should not be expected to find this to their likeing. Even those who read only 'serious' literature have special tastes and only some will appreciate this. Snow Falling on Cedars has a quiet voice and a simple mind. It doesn't shout at the reader and it doesn't present any concept of great difficulty or moment. The themes it deals with - love, justice, betrayal, honesty, etc - are all very basic and fundamental to narrative, and the author has nothing really new to say. Still, the packaging is pretty and the end result for the reader who enjoys the quiet, poetic tone of the book, is a great satisfaction.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 27, 2009 5:22:58 PM PDT
Overquoted says:
Yeah, because people who enjoy Jackie Collins or John Grisham can't also enjoy this. Fools.

Posted on May 6, 2014 12:07:50 PM PDT
Salliezoo says:
Lovely review...and I couldn't agree more with your assessment. Thank you for putting into words what I felt while reading this book, but was unable to express myself. "An evocation of time and place"...Beautifully stated and remarkably accurate.
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