Friday, July 21, 2017

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

This was a very good book, though I think it would have been even better as a novella. There's not quite enough to fill a novel, but it's too much for a short story. Of course, novellas don't sell...[sigh]. Anyway, if it were shorter, some of the first part could be trimmed, because it gets a bit samey. With too much repetition it's easy to lose impact. For example, Lib's snide skepticism and anti-religious thoughts eventually stop being culturally interesting and start coming off as just plain mean-spirited. The hints of various truths are too numerous, leading to a loss of impact when Lib figures out a couple of things that we—the readers in her head—have all known for a long time. In the last third or so of the book, these problems disappear and the story wraps you up in its tension and suspense.

It is a very, very interesting concept, a very interesting catch-22, a very interesting historical setting. We get a great feel for the time and the very small world some of these characters inhabit.

The writing is very good.

Now, this is very subjective, and not a deal-breaker for this book, but here's my issue with—for lack of a better word—Hollywood. Not every book has to have a romance! Romance is fine, but it's not the only thing interesting to read about. A book can be complete—and sometimes even stronger—without the protagonist having a romance This is one of those cases. The story is about Lib and Anna. The romance feels quite tacked on. It kind of works in the very end, but there could have been a similar and just as satisfying ending without the out-of-character love story. Others will certainly disagree.

The last few chapters are very good—and I'm one who usually prefers middles. The book is disturbing and thought-provoking and eerie...yet strangely heart-warming. I really did enjoy it.  A strong four stars.  I'm guessing that if Donoghue had felt free to write it exactly as she wanted, without any regard to what would sell, it would have been five stars.

I'll read more of Emma Donoghue in the future.

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