Special Topics in Calamity Physics Marisha Pessl
Marisha Pessl's mesmerizing debut has critics raving and heralds the arrival of a vibrant new voice in American fiction. At the center of this "cracking good read" is clever, deadpan Blue van Meer, who has a head full of literary, philosophical, scientific, and cinematic knowledge. But she could use some friends. Upon entering the elite St. Gallway school, she finds some - a clique of eccentrics known as the Bluebloods. One drowning and one hanging later, Blue finds herself puzzling out a byzantine murder mystery. Nabokov meets Donna Tartt (then invites the rest of the Western Canon to the party) in this novel - with "visual aids" drawn by the author - that has won over readers of all ages.
Ugh. I know that everyone loved this book but... ugh. I will say I really got into the last 100 pages, but the 300 pages that it took to get there weren't worth it. It was boring and overworked. I kept reading, waiting for it to get better, because so many people loved it so much... what was I missing?
Seriously, what did I miss? Because I really dislike it.
I never understand Blue. I never understood why she wanted to be friends with the Bluebloods (although I like Coleen from Catching Ray's theory on this, and not just because of the Buffy/Angel references). Also, we were told over and over and over again how smart she was, but we never saw it. She didn't seem that smart at all. And the "visual aids" didn't add anything to the text and weren't that great. They looked like portraits I would draw. And I don't draw well.
Overall the story didn't do anything for me and the structure was pretentious and gimicky and didn't add anything.
But, I did get some questions about it:
People seem to either love or hate the Pessl novel. Which side do you fall on, or is your view more moderate? Why?
Severe dislike. See above. I think I'm more angry about the time and energy wasted on reading it than actual hate towards the book.
I'm curious about Special Topics in Calamity Physics, about which I've read a lot of varying reviews. Some people hated it, others loved it. Where did you fall and why?
Book Zombie asks:
What I would like to know is whether you considered reading or re-reading the books she lists as her chapter titles? I know that many book groups have suggested this for furthering the enjoyment of the book, what are your opinions?
Reading or re-reading the chapter title books would be a good idea, just because they're good books. Being familiar with them will let you pick up some of Blue's references and asides but it's not worth it. And if a book is fresh in your mind, hearing Blue harp on about it might make her more annoying than usual.
Book Provided by... my local library
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