The Nix by Nathan Hill
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I’m really struggling with this review. I’m going back and forth between a 3 and a 4 … but I’m settling into a 3. This is such an interesting novel. It reminded me in many ways of a favorite of mine … The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. However, it didn’t quite deliver 5 stars for me like that one did. Please don’t take my rating to mean that I didn’t like this one. I really did … and I totally understand the mass of 4 and 5 star ratings that I’m seeing. I just didn’t quite connect with this novel as I’d hoped.
I love BIG, literary fiction – that is so in my wheelhouse. This book should have been a 5 star for me. And yet, it never surpassed a 4. There were SO many wonderful things in this novel – an exploration of social media, online gaming (so much funny there) and how it’s changed the world we live in. And the exploration of the mother/son relationship was also outstanding. The political exploration was also a stand out for me. These were all the best of the novel for me.
I think where I struggled is with the length … it felt at times as if it just needed more editing. I don’t know that I’d call it self-indulgent but I can understand why that word comes to mind for me when I think of this novel. I think it could have been edited a bit in places. There was so much in this one that I am worried I didn’t always grasp the connective tissue between the pieces and parts as well as I could have if it were pared down slightly by an editor. There were sections that felt very disconnected with others. There were essentially 3 novels within this one book but I didn’t think they flowed together as well as they could have. I kept wondering if I’d have loved this one more if this book had been broken up into multiple novels. I see that a few of my bookish friends wondered the same thing so perhaps I’m on to something! Sometimes the various parts overwhelmed the pure genius in the rest of the book for me.
In many ways, I’m shocked that this is a debut novel … it’s such a complex narrative with so much promise! I’m really interested in seeing where Nathan Hill goes next. If this book is any indication, I would bet that he’ll only get better and better! I do recommend this to those who love to read BIG, literary fiction with a bit of satire. And I hear it’s being made into a TV series made by JJ Abrams, starring Meryl Streep. Now that sounds AMAZING!