Sorry for the long post in advance, it’s been a long time since I’ve read a book about museums and antiquities and I forgot how much I love them and how much they make me think!
This book has been on my to-be-read shelf since July of 2011 and I can’t believe I waited this long to read it! I will never forget my first Anthropology class in undergrad and the professor going off on a tangent about the looting of the museums after the fall of Saddam Hussein. It pretty much guaranteed I would be an Anthropology major. (I later switched to cultural anthropology and focused on gender in the media, but still the people were awesome!) The intrigue, the drama, the affairs and the crimes, it could be a spy novel if it were fiction and not fact! This book will count as a bonus book for my 2013 Mount TBR Reading Challenge.
What’s important to note is that this book is not academic, Waxman wrote the book for a general audience and in this she succeeds. There are very few things that would go above someone’s head who doesn’t have a degree or a heavy interest in Ancient History, Anthropology, Archaeology or Art History. She, or her editors, appear to have been very aware of this and kept to the journalistic research intent of the book.
However, this also work against her and ultimately I felt the entire purpose of writing the book got lost. Someone on Goodreads tagged the book as ‘ending goes south’ and that’s an apt description. Waxman keeps building the crescendo and it gets to a point where you just want her to tell you what happens. And then she reminds you that all of this is still happening and things are still changing rapidly totally dampens the bang that could’ve ended the book.
I chose this novel because it has an awesome name. I had a vague idea of what the book was about, but didn’t have any particular views going into the book and didn’t realize it was nonfiction (or mostly so apparently) until after I finished reading and verified it because I wasn’t quite sure.. I knew it was an ‘adventure’ of sorts and thus I stuck it into my Back to the Classics challenge as a Classic Adventure and it conveniently qualifies also for my Mount TBR and my longer term The Classics Club Challenge.
It only took about two days to read the book and what I primarily noticed was that people are really interested in Orwell. I had multiple people ask me what I was reading on the T. I assume this is because Orwell’s name is in pretty large letters across the cover and that portion stuck out of my back pocket. It was a bit strange, but it was nice to talk to strangers. I feel like most people have only read Animal Farm or 1984 like me, but those who have read most (or all) of Orwell say that this one is his best work and it’s interesting as it’s his first ‘full length’ work.
Looking back, I’ve realized that this novel is sort of like a proto-’Love Actually’ – in that it is a network of love stories with interconnecting people who are only revealed slowly throughout the book. I felt the author did a great job at this even if it did cause me no end of frustration for the first couple hundred pages. I kept asking myself where this book was going and why the sisters from the beginning of the novel just disappeared, but they eventually reappeared and tied the story together.
Although the book clocks in at over 880 pages, it didn’t feel as if it were 880 pages. I believe this is a credit to the story and the language the author used. Her writing was not difficult to read and there were many beautiful passages and great descriptions, just look at how many quotes there are in my Additional Quotes section below. The one line that just made me laugh and think oh wow that’s me was
“When a conversation has taken a wrong turn for us, we only get farther and farther into the swamp of awkwardness.” (146)
It is just the perfect description of what happens when I pretty much ever open my mouth. I mentally thought ‘honey I’m mired in the swamp of awkwardness and am like the swamp lights (will-o’-the-wisps) that trick you into the swamp and then you die because you get lost, but without the death and lots of awkwardness.’
I just want to start by saying if by some odd chance you’re the publisher of this book, you need to pay for better copy writers. There were quite a few mistakes in this novel in the text and maybe it was part of the ‘style’ but I really doubt it.
Although I’ve enjoyed reading both of the books in the Kane Chronicles so far, I still think it is the weakest of Riordan’s series. They’re definitely action packed and entertaining, but overall I just can’t truly appreciate the characters as much as I can in his other two series and I’m not sure why. Part of this I think comes from the style of the writing and the other part comes from the inability to identify with any of the minor characters. Although I think he did a better job with this book, it just didn’t click perfectly with me. However, don’t get me wrong it was still a fun read and I appreciated seeing Carter and Sadie grow and meeting new characters. I just wish there was more.
This novel picks up not long after the last novel, but there is A LOT of information that is never filled in and that drives me insane! This novel just sort of picks up and a lot of things have changed and it’s like you’re supposed to accept that and move on, which you have to do, because there’s no other way to get that information. Part of this comes from Riordan’s style of writing in that this novel is just a transcript of a tape he ‘discovered’ and that added to the personalities of Sadie and Carter this time, but it left so much information out like more information where the other magicians came from, what they’re doing and what they’re planning to do!
A friend from UNC (Go Heels! – it’s a gut reaction ), Hi Lizzie!, recommended The Madman’s Daughter as the author is a family friend (or something along those lines) and I’m glad she recommended it! It was a fast paced and engaging read and although it wasn’t perfect, it was an amazing debut novel and I can’t wait to see where her writing takes her in the future.
It has been a very long time, over 10 years if not closer to 15, since I went through my H.G. Wells obsession and read everything he wrote and from what I remember this mirrors The Island of Doctor Moreau pretty closely. I think at some point in the next few years I will go back and read Wells work again as I really enjoyed The Time Machine and The Invisible Man.
What I enjoyed most about this book was the author’s story telling ability and her great descriptions. At one point when I was getting reading my final chapter for the night before bed I had chills all over my body because of what happened and the cliff hanger of that chapter (almost the exact half-way point). Honestly, I was shocked I was able to put the book down and go to bed.