While I respect Banks’s intent – to expose human cruelty and how one family member’s pain can lead to the dysfunction and pain of all others, I must say – this novel, like it’s characters, is just one hot mess. Though the book was relatively short – about 180 pages – it took forever to read, because the story lacked direction and, seemingly, purpose. The first one-hundred pages were self-indulgent and lacked a psychologically exacting purpose, though the novel attempts to set itself up as psychologically stimulating and purposeful. The dystopic family structure is well-received and the effects of a mother-less household is understood; still, the only truly meaningful sub-plot of this story was the tragic experience of the narrator’s older brother, Eric. His downfall and the explanation thereof seemed genuine and honest – the pain and terror in his experience was not pressured or over-done. Had this been a story about Eric, perhaps it could have worked. As it is, especially as one who has read Eugenides’ Middlesex the subject matter and it’s eventual revelation leaves much to be desired.
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