Batch Review #10

Extremely Loud and Incredibly CloseExtremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

Oskar is a ten-year-old who is very smart in some matters and not knowledgable in others. His dad died during the attacks of 9/11 and Oskar can’t get a closure – and so when he finds a key among his dad’s belongings, he starts a search for a lock that will fit. A search that takes him all over the NYC, a search during which he finds friends, a search that is intertwined with a past he hasn’t an inkling of.
I suppose Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close can be termed as literary fiction? I picked up the book because the random pictures and writings and playing with the format intrigued me. In the end they don’t mean much – just a visual reenforcement of the words, or sometimes not even that.
EL&IC isn’t just about Oskar’s story. It’s also his grandmother’s and his grandfather’s story, and what happened in Dresden in 1945.
A part of the title is mentioned in one passage: “Then, out of nowhere, a flock of birds flew by the window, extremely fast and incredibly close. Maybe twenty of them. Maybe more. But they also seemed like just one bird, because somehow they all knew exactly what to do.” (p. 165 – 168)The writing is not exactly pretentious. Sometimes it reflects the simplicity and monotony of everyday life. Sometimes it’s trying too hard to be important, but somehow it’s not that bad because most of it comes from a ten-year-old boy and that makes it somehow okay.

The Next AlwaysThe Next Always (Inn BoonsBoro #1) by Nora Roberts

Okay, so I had high hopes for this one. 1) It’s part of a contemporary trilogy by Nora Roberts. Those have been all awesome (Born In, Dream, Chesapeake Bay, Gallaghers of Ardmore, Bride Quartet). 2) It’s about an inn! Which is like a hotel…. which is like the Templeton House trilogy… right? Right? 3) It was written directly after the Bride Quartet, whose books are ones of my favorite Nora Roberts ever.
Instead, I cracked the book open, waiting to be swept away… and I just couldn’t connect with the characters. Characters are one of the strongest suits Nora novels have. Characters and their relationships with each other. But this time, it just fell flat. The three Montgomery brothers were busy as hell and sniped at each other but there wasn’t much to it – for the most part. Clare, Avery and Hope are nice and each has her own characteristic, I guess, but they are too bland. I felt like I didn’t get to know them all that well. Worst of all, I didn’t care about them.
I didn’t care about the inn that much, either. I felt like the author has written a very extensive advertisement for her own inn. The first book is very much about the restoration of the inn, and I felt like reading a building guide. I dunno – I guess I had expected (and that’s my bad) a breezy, energetic summer feeling à la Bride Quartet.
Once the three boys and their first day with Beckett were introduced, it went better. Enough for me to decide to get the second book to finish the trilogy right away. Ugh, we’ll see, I suppose.

The Secret Diary of Lizzie BennetThe Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su & Kate Rorick

I have watched a dozen or more episodes of the YouTube series, so I was familiar with the tone and the casting. What interested me most about this book form was Lizzie’s position as graduate student about to finish her master’s degree. Lizzie’s conflict with Lydia was well played out, too, and it’s reaching to the heart of the readers. But to intensify that you’ve gotta watch the web episodes.
Okay, I enjoyed the San Fransisco scenes, too. And the private Lizzie & Darcy moments after they solved their tug-and-pull. (They are small and subtle scenes, so don’t get your hopes up.)
As a modern adaptation, I think Bernie Su and Kate Rorick and the whole team made it a very realistic one. The Bennets’ financial situation might be probably – and unfortunately – a familiar scene to many U.S. readers. Charlotte no longer has to marry to escape her even more dire financial troubles. Bing suffers from pressures set on his shoulders by his family and their acquaintances. Jane had her forty-eight hours worry. She also loves her job and has a successful career eventually. Lizzie is in the end on equal footing with Darcy. (Okay, I admit I don’t know whether the founding-own-company-and-getting-financial-backers-based-on-a-series-of-YouTube-videos is realistic.)

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