I made a new year's resolution to read 50 books in 2011. I finished the goal, and the three books listed below, in the month of December. They are all very different books. A celebrity biography, Christmas fan-fiction, and a Pulitzer Prize winner's new novel. The reviews are below.
Bossypants by Tina Fey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book was hilarious. Her reflections on life, work, and being a parent were priceless. I'm not a huge fan of celebrity books, but this one was definitely worth the read.
Jacob T. Marley by R. William Bennett
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This is Dickens fan fiction. I bought this for the Christmas holiday but finished it after Christmas but before 2011 ended. I didn't like it. The author spent most of the book telling me why everything was important. When he wasn't describing the significance of everything he was flinging moral imperatives at me with alarming force. The premise is good for a fan fiction concept, but it was ruined by a poor telling of Marley's side of the story. I would have preferred that the author left more unsaid so the reader could draw their own conclusions. Also, I found Marley's transformation unbelievable. My disbelief cannot be suspended that much.
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The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I really wanted to like this book because it was so well written. Mr. Eugenides is a Pulitzer Prize winner after all. The characters were also very well done. They were real, complex, and interesting to read about as they struggled with the basic problems of young college graduates finding their way. I ended up not liking the book very much for two reasons.
First, nothing really happens. I know that this isn't a suspense novel, but the story still needs something to happen to make me want to turn the pages. They all graduate, they don't know what to do with their lives, they think about it for hundreds of pages. Not very exciting. There is some conflict between the characters and a meager attempt at a love triangle but overall it was very boring.
Second, too much background without clear purpose. There is an enormous amount of background on the characters and what they are doing. The first part of the book reads like a college syllabus as we get quotes and long histories of esoteric concepts. Then there are long descriptions that sound like journal entries from a backpacking trip to avoid the real world for just a little longer. The other parts don't use as much background, but the author still tends to include a lot of stuff that doesn't relate to any specific important characteristic or plot point in the story. It was very distracting.