Monday, March 15, 2010

Review: Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian

Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian
My rating: 4 stars

I'm a big fan of Chris Bohjalian. I've enjoyed almost every one of his books that I've read. And this one was no exception.

I had no expectations when I opened the book, in fact, I didn't even know what it was about. I just knew that it was a new Bohjalian book and I'd heard good things overall. Ultimately, the book was about World War 2 and the war's impact on a variety of people. I really enjoyed the story - I felt it was well-rounded and interesting. The characters were well done - drawn out throughout the story and each had compelling stories. I also enjoyed how well Bohjalian weaved in history and the personal stories of the characters. It gave the history a great deal of context and made it come alive for me. Bohjalian is a good writer and I enjoy his writing style and that held with this novel.

It is a fairly dark book, given its subject matter. He describes the brutality of war in extremely keen detail. There are no horrid details spared, in many cases. I think this gave the novel texture but I can see how some might be put off by it.

My only complaint about the book is that it had SO many things going on all at once - a romance, a war story, a coming of age story, a Jewish resistance story, etc. Lots going on in this book. So, at times it felt like it was a bit too much at once. Ultimately, I enjoyed the reading of the book and would recommend it. I think it could have been an excellent novel if it had a bit more focus. In the end, it's a good, solid novel with a few flaws.

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