Monday, January 11, 2010

Review: Blindness by Jose Saramago

My rating: 3 stars

My review:
I hate to give this 3 stars. And, unfortunately, it was more a 2 1/2 star book. I really wanted this one to be GREAT for me. I've heard so many wonderful things about it. And, there were great things about it but it didn't live up to my expectations. I thought the premise was so unique and interesting - one by one, everyone begins to go blind. And chaos ensues. Ultimately, the book is about how we respond to adversity, to chaos, how we react when societal limitations are broken down. Those pieces of the novel were fascinating and gave me a great deal to think about. Unfortunately, beyond that, I didn't find the literary masterpiece that I was hoping for.

Although some of the writing was amazing, much of it was not. The book was basically one long run on sentence with no distinction between who was speaking at any given time. As a result, following the book took a great deal of care. The words were not difficult - just the format. At times, I found myself feeling like I just didn't care enough to take the kind of care necessary to read the book. I would have to fight the inclination to skim. That is always a bad sign for me. I understand that the style of writing is probably an intentional tactic - possibly to put the reader a bit off kilter, similar to the way the characters are as they face the world blind. But, the style just didn't work for me, personally. I can see its merit and I can see why its described by some as an artform in and of itself. However, I didn't find it particularly enjoyable. More like a marathon and the end just didn't justify the means for me.

Many others have loved this book so don't let my frustration with the book get in your way if the premise sounds interesting to you. It just wasn't a book that I particularly enjoyed. And a part of me wishes I had that time back where I struggled to get through it, trying to savor every word and follow the jumbled prose, ultimately to feel like that time was a waste.

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