I was thoroughly excited when I saw this book on the ER list two months ago and very bummed that I did not get chosen to review it. I put my self on the library list immediately.
Mark Haddon wrote one of my favorite novels: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time. This was his first novel, and it was an instant hit. I adore this novel told from the point of view of an autistic boy who must solve a family mystery. (Read it, if you haven't. It is beautiful.)
Unfortunately, this second novel falls very far from the brilliance and sweetness of the first. I really had to work to get through it, and I really never fell in love with any character. In fact, I really had a hard time understanding a lot of it.
Eight characters come together for a family vacation. Two families spend a week together in The Red House and negotiate complicated relationships, ruminate on loss and love, parent, have small adventures, and eat. Each of the 8 characters has a point of view and each point of view is used interchangeably with the others in a fast and very confusing manner. I was constantly stopping to remind myself who each person was and who they were related to and what their story was. There are many snippets which were unclear about who was speaking and what the paragraph was about. I finally got a little interest and rhythm into reading this book about 180 pages in. There were a few compelling scenes, and I spent a few minutes caring, but then, not so much.
I can appreciate the Haddon likes to play with point of view and he clearly marks it as his strength but this time he tried to hard and played too much with the concept to make it anything but awkward and confusing.
I know there is a long list for this at the library. I am returning my copy today.