Friday, July 23, 2010

Review: Geek Love by Katherine Dunn

Geek Love

Geek Love by Katherine Dunn

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Wow. I'm not even sure where to start on this book. It was probably the most unusual, odd book that I've EVER read. It's a really well written book with a really, ummm ..., interesting story. It's a difficult book to categorize or really explain. I tried explaining it to my husband and his only reaction was "um, OK, that sounds really weird." And it IS really, really, really weird.

I was fascinated with the idea and concept of the book. That, along with the strong writing, kept me reading. There were moments when I wanted to put it aside because it just wasn't a particularly enjoyable book to read. It wasn't bad. It just wasn't good.

The good ultimately did not cover up the bad for me but I'll lay it all out here so that you can decide if its a book you ultimately want to read.

The Good:
1. The premise really is amazing. What a unique concept. Like nothing I have ever read before. And, it really is fascinating in an odd way that kind of makes you feel sick to your stomach. Carnies, 'freaks,' unusual family situations. It's all here and its built to make you uncomfortable. That part of the novel is done amazingly well.
2. The writing was amazing. That Katherine Dunn was able to keep my interest for the entire book is a testament to her writing. She is just a good writer. Despite the weirdness of her subject.
3. The themes around normalcy, manipulation, obsession and isolation were really interesting. This novel gave me a great deal to think about in terms of human nature. It made me think about uncomfortable things in a new way.

The Not So Good:
1. The characters were so out there that they became almost caricatures to me. They stopped being human and became monsters. ALL of them. There is very little humanity present in this novel, in my opinion. And what humanity is present is not anything but scary. At times, the circumstances of the novel and the characters became so bizarre that I had difficulty envisioning the world created by Dunn. It was so out there that it lost me somehow.
2. The story itself meanders around in a way that was disorienting in some ways. Certain aspects of the story were given great attention while others were introduced and then never really given much attention. It just made the story feel disjointed to me and made the pacing of the novel fall short of what it could have been.

All in all, I'm glad that I read this book but I'm not sure I would have if I'd read more about the book. It's a well written novel that is certainly memorable. However, its flaws were distracting and ultimately took away from the potential of the novel as a whole.

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