Saturday, May 12, 2012

Book Review: Click

I noticed this book at the library for the cover, you simply don't see a lot of twin-lens cameras on the cover of books, and checked it out for the premise, ten authors all writing a different chapter in a cohesive story. Something that ambitious has the potential to fail horribly of course but with an idea that different I couldn't help but be curious about it, plus it was a fairly short book (around 200 pages, most books I read are around 300-400ish) so there wasn't any reason for me to not give it a go.

Click by David Almond, Eoin Colfer, Roddy Doyle, Deborah Ellis, Nick Hornby, Margo Langan, Gregory Maguire, Ruth Ozeki, Linda Sue Park, Tim Wynne-Jones

Summary: When Grandfather George "Gee" Keane dies he leaves behind a few gifts for his grandchildren, a box of sea shells for Maggie and photographs for Jason. But as a photographer he touched many more lives than just his grandkids and had a few secrets that even his family didn’t know

The Good: There were a few chapters in the book that focused more on the grandfather and, contrary to my expectations, I really liked those stories. One chapter focusing on the girl who thought she was a fish (I believe it's the second chapter, Annie by David Almond) was a great example, someone else’s story with the grandfather only appearing briefly as a side character, it reminded me of some slice of life anime I’ve seen over years where there’s a central, reoccurring character but not every story they appear in is their own. I think I would have liked the book more if the stories had been more like that more about how the grandfather affected their lives than the grand plot it created that tried to go beyond that (another other chapter in the book that was like that was Jiro by Ruth Ozeki, again this chapter felt like a complete short story and didn't contradict anything the reader had already read).

The Bad: As mentioned in the intro, each of the ten chapters was written by a different author and the final result is a bit schizophrenic. Some of the characters have completely different personalities in different chapters (the son Jason was the worst recipient of this, there’s no way he could’ve dealt with all his issues as quickly as he did) and there were simply some really strange themes in there, like some of the characters having the ability to create living duplicates of themselves and live separate lives (while the original is still completely aware of what the duplicate is doing). The time-skips also felt rather erratic, sometimes stories took place one after another and other times there are decades long gaps, it makes me wonder just how much planning, if any, went into the overall flow of the story, it feels more like a round robin than an anthology and just doesn’t quite work.

While some of the individual stories were alright I just can't recommend this book since it just does not work as a cohesive work. Most oddly put together work I've read in a few years, can't say it really made me want to check out the other works by these authors either. 

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