Thursday, December 30, 2010

Review: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Foer

Without much of an opening, I’m going to get to the point… There were too many themes and I didn’t feel the novel adequately covered any of them. Is this book about WWII and the bombings at Dresden, 9/11 and terrorism, growing up, growing old,  post-traumatic stress disorder, family, death, childhood … is it a quest book? A great book is able to seamlessly merge several themes. To put it nicely, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close bit off more than it could chew.

I did enjoy the writing style. It’s rather a stream-of-consciousness narration. The point of view shifts between the main protagonist, nine year old Oskar Schell, and his grandfather (who goes by the same name), and his grandmother. We come to know the grandfather through the letters he writes to his son, Oskar’s dad. He writes about Dresden and what it was like during the bombings. I felt these reflections were the strongest part of the novel. However, these reflections didn’t tie in well with Oskar’s story. The grandfather could have been removed without drastically altering the story. So, I’m not sure what the grandfather is doing in it. 

Young Oskar is a very clever and witty boy – too clever. The prose felt very contrived and pushed the “I’m a sad little boy genius” theme too heavily for me. I’ve no doubt smart boys like Oskar do exist. It’s just that Oskar as a character in this novel didn’t work well for me. Oskar’s quest, which takes him all over NYC, was fun to follow but I didn’t feel his encounters with NYC residents added anything to a story about 9/11, war or grieving.The quest itself may have helped Oskar, but the encounters added very little.

I found myself laughing quite a bit. And that’s a good thing because honestly, I found the book to be a downer. There is very little genuine love between the characters (except perhaps between Oskar and his mom) and very little is resolved between characters at the book’s end. For a book about 9/11 and grieving, etc., I don’t like that what I’m taking away from this book is “funny.”

I’ve been harsh, perhaps. I did enjoy Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close well enough. I read it in a couple days. The novel did make me want to come back to it and turn pages. Final Thoughts: Reading this book felt like putting together a puzzle and I enjoyed the exercise.

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin, 2006 (eBook)     Pages: 368
Rating: 3 Stars     Source: Purchased through Kindle Storefront

1 comment:

  1. This is my absolute favorite book. I guess it's not for everyone.