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Brilliant? Awful? I can't quite figure it out.

The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair - Joël Dicker

I finished this book yesterday morning. You see, I'd gotten to about 80% the night before, and was engaged enough to get up early so I could finish before work.


I am left conflicted.


The first 50% of this book truly sucked. The writing was stilted, and the characterizations were, frankly, bizarre and unconvincing. The narrator was a crashing bore of pretentious douchebaggery, almost entirely disconnected from his fellow human beings. The premise is ridiculous - no police officer anywhere in the U.S. lets some random writer hang about during a murder investigation.


And then, at the 50% mark, something started to change for me. Yeah, the writing was still stilted, although I became accustomed to it so it bothered me less. The characterizations were still bizarre and unconvincing, but I just don't know. It drew me in. And the various sleight of hand manoevres, the twists and turns and bumpy road of the plot, maybe I'm just a sucker for a surprise, but I liked them.


It was a pretentious book, sooooo meta - it's a writer writing a book about a writer writing a book about a writer writing a book. And yeah, that conceit is just so self-referential and author-aggrandizing that it bugs the shit out of me. Also, the so-called love story was weird and inappropriate and I did not like it at all. There wasn't a single likeable character in this whole thing, and that pretty much includes Nola. 


But, it kept me turning pages, and I've been trying to figure out if it was brilliant or awful since I closed it. So, yeah, I still don't know if I liked the damned thing. But I finished it.


For a couple of additional alternative views on the book, check out Sister Mary Murderous's 1/2 star review here, and Liz Loves Books 5 star review here. This is a book that incites emotion, at the very least.




This book was set in New Hampshire, so fulfills that state in my USA by the Book challenge.