Wednesday, August 26, 2009

How bad is this?

The book: Shanghai Girls

The culprit/author: Lisa See

The Deal: OK, here's the scoop: I truly enjoy See's writing, and, ok, I am used to a certain level of grim-itude, which I can usually push past (please see Snow Flower and The Secret Fan for a very harrowing description of the creation of 'lily feet'). But OMG! What happened, Lisa? SG reads like a book written by a very jaded Eeyore...if Eeyore happened to be Chinese. Not only are there bad things after bad things, followed by worse things, followed by killing off the only relatable character in the entire book (but only after dozens more have be maltreated, manipulated, abused, stricken and, then killed), but the 'heroines' of the book are totally unlikeable, in thoroughly toxic relationships, and, although the SG in question are sisters....OY! They are the most hateful sisters ever-although no actual weapons were pulled by either on either. Over and over See trumpets that they are each others' best friends, the one loving situation in their lives. And yet. Two less interesting, more selfish, self-serving and, well, let me come right out and say it, annoyingly repetitious bee-yotches I have not encountered in recent memory.

The Grading Session: F+. The only reason this book got that much out of me was that I learned some stuff that was sort of interesting-in the middle of all that garbagey, annoying-peopley, plotty nonsense- about China and the Chinese people. Which is nice.

Lessons Learned: Even a much-loved author can have a misstep. This one here? A doozy. I will not even finish reading the book- and I have less than 1 chapter to go. I would
consider a second chance for Ms See. But not right away. Maybe not for a while. A long while. AND, if it happens again....well, I am just saying: don't let this happen again.

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