Sunday, March 28, 2010

book review - grand & humble by brent hartinger

my two cent(ence)s - a very quick read with a good premise. the surprise ending was good, though i wasn't taken with the writing.

i had heard of brent hartinger before (because of his novel the geography club), but i've never been too interested in reading his work. when i came across grand & humble and read the paragraph synopsis, i knew i had to read it. there were just too many elements and devices in this novel that reminded me of the one i'm currently writing. so, i quickly downloaded it on my nook and read it.

the story is written in third person point of view alternating chapters. harlan is a senator's son - the popular kid with the seemingly perfect life. manny is a guy who lives below the radar - hanging out with his deaf best friend and doing lighting for the school productions. both attend the same high school and have extremely different experiences there. and both are haunted: manny by vivid dreams of dying and harlan by graphic premonitions of dying. both are trying to unravel the mystery of why they are tortured by these visions/dreams. in the end, each one finds out he's been adopted and finally learns his family history and how it relates to what haunts him.

what i like about the ending is that it was completely unexpected. basically the reader discovers that manny and harlan are the same person, the book showing how manny/harlan's life plays out if he were adopted by his aunt, or if he were raised by his birth father. it's kind of like the gwenyth paltrow movie sliding doors, but in reverse. and not done nearly as well.

after i read this book i had to read other reviews about it, because i really didn't connect with the writing at all. turns out, people LOVE this book. so i guess it really is a matter of taste, and this was not to my liking.
as i said, the premise was good and as i was reading i was really interested in how the story would unfold, but i felt myself rushing through the pages because i was not enamored with the style of writing.
now, i can be honest and say that PERHAPS i was more critical of his writing because of the similarities to my wip, but i really don't think so. especially since it became very clear, very early the similarities are too general to even compare.
bottom line - don't listen to me on this one since i seem to be in the minority when it comes to opinions on it.


Anonymous said...

Former brat reader current ikw reader - thanks for this blog. I too read and aspire to write ya fiction. Joined a book club last year but cannot stomach many of the selections. Guess I'll have to start my own ya club (or at least recommend ya selections). Your reviews are highlighting new selections for my own reading and taking me away from my "usual" choices. Thanks for some good reads.

ikw said...

anonymous - thanks for the comment! i'd love to read any recommendations you might have. right now i have a ton of books on my nook wishlist, and i'm just picking from there.