Originally published at my blog Chasing Empty Pavements
From the moment I read the blurb and saw the cover of this book, I knew I wanted to read it. It sounded intriguing and exotic and I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. After reading it though, I was a more than a little disappointed.
The Good: The writing is phenomenal. Some of the sentences are so beautifully written, it reminded me why I fell in love with reading and writing in the first place. I loved to roll the words around in my mouth because they fell off the lips so sweetly. I hope that anyone reading this novel is as impressed with Obreht's writing ability as I am. I loved the main characters Natalia and her grandfather. The grandfather really reminded me of my own grandfather and I wonder if that's why I chuckled so much throughout this novel at his little quips and anecdotes. I'm not familiar with the Balkan countries but I absolutely LOVED the setting in this novel. I did enjoy the "the deathless man" story line and the closeness between Natalia and her grandfather was endearing. The mysterious and suspicious people she meets while trying to inoculate the children in the village were also an interesting aspect to the novel.
The Bad: My biggest complaint about this novel was that I didn't feel like anything really happened. There's these stories and Natalia and Zora are in this village and by the end of the novel I'm not really sure if anything important ever did happen. I understand in a sense how the interweaving of the stories related back to her grandfather but I guess they weren't big enough revelations to hold my interest. There were certain parts of the novel that were long-winded and I forced myself to read through. I guess I just felt a little underwhelmed by this novel after all the hype and my own expectations.
Overall, the book was good. It just should have been better. I really really really wanted to love it and for it to be my next favorite but it wasn't. I think it's worth a read for the language and writing however, but it was simply stunning. I would give this book a C-. I really would like to read another Tea Obreht novel sometime.
**I received this book free from the publisher through www.netgalley.com. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.