What I'm Reading: Get Even by Gretchen McNeil

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Vagabond King by James Conway

This book was sent to me by the author for a fair and honest review.
Here is the summary from Goodreads: When his mother dies and he discovers the man he believed was his father is not, sixteen year old Chris is haunted by a mysterious apparition that forces him to question his pampered existence and embark upon a quest to find himself. Hoping she will “make a man of him”, he seeks sanctuary in the home of Magda, a middle aged waitress with a penchant for sex, only to discover she lives with her father, a cigarette smoking, beer swilling immigrant.

Chris hates his shabby new surroundings at the end of the street and the shabby old man at the end of his life who spends his days listening to old blues records and making Chris fetch him fresh cans of beer. But, when the old man tells tales of Communism, torture, escape and the mysterious medallion he wears, Chris learns that, like the old man’s skipping records, history repeats itself and the roles we play have been played many times before.

What I Liked: 1) The overall idea of history repeating itself. This idea was well researched and I thought it was played out very nicely in the story. 2) Chris's convictions. Okay, I may not have agreed with all of his convictions, but he stuck with them, no matter what anyone told him. 3) The ending. There was a lot going on in this book, but everything was nicely packaged at the end. I understood the different plot points a lot better once I reached the end of the book and saw how everything came together.

What I Didn't Like: 1) That being said, it took a long time for me to piece this book together. Throughout most of the book, I felt like saying, "this book is way smarter than me." My confusion led me to have a hard time reading it. 2) Additionally, there were other aspects of the book that I found hard to figure out. For example, the time period. I knew it was sometime post-1960, but beyond that, I couldn't figure it out. Often, being confused about small details like that can distract me for the entire book. Also, Chris's age. I was vascilating between 14 and 18. That's a pretty big age difference, but it was never really confirmed until the very end when I think I finally landed on 17-18. There is a big difference between a 14 year old character and an 18 year old character, and not being able to figure out where on the age spectrum he fell was a hindrance in figuring out the book. 3) What kind of timeline did this book cover? That affects his age too, I guess. Did he start of as a young adolescent and end the book as an adult? I still have so many questions about the story, and it led to my not being able to enjoy what I was reading.

Overall thoughts: I have to come back to the fact that this book was too smart for me. It left me confused and wondering what exactly it was all about. Combine that with a cast of characters that really didn't appeal to me, and I'll admit I had a few issues with this book. That being said, I think that there are some who will enjoy this story. It's an interesting examination of the idea that history repeats itself with historical references and a cyclical story. Unfortunately, it just wasn't for me.

My rating: 2 shots

1 comment:

  1. It sounds interesting, but like it's lacking a lot of information. I am big on character connection too, so I don't know that I would enjoy this one very much.


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