(Original review posted on my livejournal account: http://intoyourlungs.livejournal.com/33728.html)Why I Read It:
It was the January selection for calico_reaction
's Theme Park Book Club.
I had no idea what to expect when I cracked open this book. I had never heard of it before, and frankly, it sounded weird and not up my alley. Meta-fiction is something I have a hard time with because I find a lot of it goes over my head, and I could tell from the get-go that this book would deal with it a lot, and I was right. So I'm sad to say that this book didn't really work for me. I really wanted it to because as much as I knew it wasn't something I would ever read on me, I was kind of excited to be reading something outside of my comfort zone.
I may have just read this at the wrong time. The beginning of the new semester is usually a good time for me because I'm not swamped by essays, but this semester I've been totally inundated with readings (four of the books I read this month alone were read for school) and thus I found myself putting this down a lot. The constant disruptions might have contributed to my feelings of complete "meh"-ness I feel for this book. Or maybe not, I dunno.
The concept of the novel itself is interesting: the main character Charles Yu gets himself stuck in a time-loop when he sees his future self and shoots him the stomach. We watche Charles from that point on as he tries to find a way to get out of the loop while dealing some family issues he has, while reading and writing a book at the same time (the one you're reading.)
So yes, very clever and very original, but I still found myself not really caring for some reason. I was much more invested in sections of the story where Charles revisits his childhood and re-witnesses the relationship he had with his father, which was fraught with regret. Those were some really poignant scenes.
The rest of the book though? It did very little for me. The world-building was kind of strange, in that I never felt like I was in a science fictional universe ever, despite time-travel being commonplace (but maybe that was intentional? Because it very clearly IS a science fictional universe even if it didn't feel like one) and I felt like the snippets in the novel about the "rules" of living in a science fiction universe were pointless; it never felt like they were actually being enacted, nor did I even see them in practice (though maybe they were and I just totally missed it.)
I don't know. I wanted to like it and they were parts that I liked, but when I turned the last page, I really had no feelings about the book one way or the other.Final Judgment:
I'm not even entirely sure how I feel about this book. This is mostly because I don't feel *anything* towards this book: I don't like it, I don't dislike it... I just read it and that was that. I *wanted* to really like it though; it's got a really cool premise, and if you're into meta-fiction, this book has it in SPADES. It's kind of accessible too though, because the main character is very human and the father-son relationship in the book was actually really well done (and I know for sure that I liked those parts.) I'm pretty sure I just read this at a bad time, as I was swamped with a ton of reading for school and rarely had time to really concentrate on this book, so maybe a re-read in the future is in order.