All right. Here it is. The book that planted me solidly on the book blogger leper colony. The book everyone seems to have written glowing reviews of but for one or two people. It's even got a very respectable 4.12 out of 5 star rating on Library Thing. There are people out there saying this is one of their favorite reads of the year. So what's wrong with me? Oh well, here I go with the review, as promised. Please be gentle when throwing the rotten fruits and veggies, mmkay?
Angel Duet has problems. Her mother is dead leaving only photographs of clouds that serve as a centerpiece for Angel and her father's lives and an empty space where all the feelings associated with mother should have been. Her father, she discovers, is a liar. She suffers from debilitating narcolepsy that leaves her dependent on her father and her irritating would-be stepmother, Carla. She wants people to know and understand her intimately, like a mother would, but she holds people at arm's length afraid to let them into her life for fear that they won't understand her or will attempt to define her in terms of her illness. She's lonely and confused and searching for anybody who will help her fill up the hole in herself that can only be filled by mother. Her search leads her into the arms of a married man, the lesbian cousin of a friend, and into the arms of the boring and self-involved Christian who will ultimately give her a reason to look her own life in the face and fill in the blanks of her story that have plagued her for so long.
How I wish I had really liked this book like the rest of the blogosphere seems to have liked it. It's the first book that was ever sent to me for review that someone came to me to offer it. I sat down to read it with high hopes, and out of the gate found it, well, difficult. To be quite honest, had I purchased this book and plucked it off my enormous TBR pile, it probably wouldn't have passed the 50 page test. The first fifty pages are rough, filled with convoluted descriptions of the, at first, very unlikeable Angel's overdramatic thoughts and daydreams. Awkward and abrupt transitions combined with Angel's struggle to divide what is reality from what is dream confuse the narrative and make the story hard to get lost in. The seeming self-consciousness of the writing combined with the use of "cain't" and "thang" to communicate the characters' southern accents make the writing seem almost amateurish to me. Good writing is supposed to be a vehicle for a story, but the writing in the first fifty pages of Aberrations feels like just writing.
That said, by the time I reached the end of the book, I was almost glad I hadn't given up on it. As Aberrations progresses, the narrative sheds a good deal of its awkwardness, revealing a more heartfelt story with a main character that we have begun to sympathize with despite her many mistakes and weaknesses as she begins to rebuild from the ashes the life she thought she knew. Watching Angel grow into a character readers can care about and a whole person who has come to grips with the secrets of her past and the realities of her present is what gives this book a soul that will appeal to readers. Przekop has created a cast of characters that start out very shallow and unlikeable but end up as real people who have faced real problems for better or for worse - people that we can ultimately understand and sympathize with despite their many failings.
Oh, and since I usually go out of my way to note the effect of bad cover art on my desire to read a book, I definitely want to point this one out as an example of really great cover art. It's eye-catching, it highlights stuff from the book, very nice. Definitely something that I would take a closer look at if I cam upon it at a bookstore.
While I wouldn't exactly classify Aberrations as my cup of tea, many (okay most) book bloggers enjoyed it much more than I did. I would encourage you to read their reviews for a second (and third and fourth...) opinion that is wildly different from my own.
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