Top critical review
3 people found this helpful
Not for me
on November 13, 2011
I'm not sure if the BOOK is not for me, or if it's the author. I learned of this book from an article on NPR's website that recommended three books that were notably dark. I bought this and one other book described in the article. I really liked the other book, but not so this one, which is compared, inaccurately, with "The Lord of the Flies."
The language in "John Dollar" was poetic to the point of meaninglessness. The author seemed to choose phrases because they were pretty, not because they communicated much of anything. The author also seemed to prefer writing in a big circle around the major events (and even the smaller, supporting incidents) rather than addressing them head on. This to the extent that the reader may emerge from a chapter unsure what has just happened. The one time the author writes directly about an incident it's so engaging, almost heart stopping. It works so well. Why not do it more often?
The book is named for a character who doesn't enter the book until the midpoint, leaves before the end and, while I suppose he makes an impact on the lives of the other characters, his was an indirect choice at best. Relationships are not explored. "Why"s are ignored as if unimportant. In short, it's exactly the wrong kind of book for me. This may be the entirety of the author's style, which would mean that she's the wrong sort of writer for me, but I won't spend the necessary time to find that out for sure.
I've written in other reviews of my hatred for poorly-written back cover blurbs. Folks, if you read this review and then decide to read the book, DO NOT read the blurb. I managed to keep my eyes from the back cover until about 60 pages in, when I was desperate to find out if the story would ever have some sort of movement. So I read the blurb. Guess what? There are things mentioned on the back cover that do not happen until the last 10 or so pages of the book. Heck, there are things in the blurb that do not ever happen. And incidentally, if the events that are supposed to lure and hook a reader (the ones that would necessarily be included in a blurb) don't start happening until the middle of the book, then maybe that means the first half of the book is unnecessary.
I was engaged by the first chapter, which sent up a good number of question marks and did a reasonable job of luring me in. But my early engagement in the story was ultimately unsatisfied.