November 11, 2009

John Dollar by Marianne Wiggins

Date Started: Unknown, Sometime in October
Date Finished: November 8, 2009

Summary: Charlotte is a widow who decides to go to India to start a new life. She gets a job teaching eight girls. She meets the sailor, John Dollar. After going to an island for the King of the England's birthday, they all get caught up in an earthquake and subsequently a tsunami. The girls must fend for themselves in the wild.

Likes: The premise reminds me of Lord of the Flies. Children being forced to grow up and on their own, left to fend for themselves. The story makes use of some interesting concepts when it comes to dialogue and description. The characters, for the most part, are believable and flawed. The author captures insanity at it's most gritty details. 

Dislikes:There was just too much detail at some part. I can handle the sex, I can even handle gore. There are just some parts of the story I felt weren't necessary to make the point. Sometimes the extended metaphors were too heavy handed and too obvious, almost to the point of preachy. The ending is at the beginning of the novel and while at first it seem interesting to start at that place, the ending is so random. The characters are running and the reader doesn't know where. The beginning of the book should have been at the end. In fact the book could probably have started in medias res and had a better impact by weaving in the past to the current narrative.

Overall: I don't think I would have ever picked up this book had we not had to read it for class. It was bizarre and not in the good way. The premise was interesting but the writing was just a bit too dull to tell the story fully. It was a bit disappointing because the shocking revelation, while gross, isn't as crazy as a reader would think it would be. It does make a reader wonder if the two older girls had resources and things they needed to survive, why did they resort to doing what they did. Would I recommend this book? I'm not sure. Critically speaking, it's probably a really good book symbolizing colonialism and ethnic tension as well as the animal aspect of human nature. As a pleasure reading book, not so much. It's not enjoyable in that regard. Your mileage may vary, but it's an okay book. I've certainly have read worse.


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