Brief Thoughts: Jack Glass, Men We Reaped and The Lie

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Jack Glass (Golden Age)

Jack Glass by Adam Roberts

Five words from the blurb: society, crime, asteroid, murder, freedom

Jack Glass started well, with a group of prisoners being left on an asteroid. These men will only survive their ten-year prison sentence if they work together to produce food and water, mining the rock for everything they require. The dynamics of this new society was well drawn and each of the characters jumped from the page. Unfortunately things went downhill in the second section. The new characters failed to engage me and I became increasingly bored with the story. The third section was even worse and I ended the book very disappointed. It’s a shame it failed to live up to its early promise. 

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Men We Reaped: A Memoir

Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward

Five words from the blurb: black, poverty, loss, family, struggle

I loved Salvage the Bones so was excited about trying Jesmyn Ward’s memoir. Unfortunately I found that the story was diluted by the inclusion of too many people. I found it too fragmented and lacking the emotional power of her novel. I’d have preferred a more intimate story, focusing on a smaller group of people.

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The Lie

The Lie by Helen Dunmore

Five words from the blurb: man, returns, war, quiet, consequences, truth

I’ve had a mixed experience with Helen Dunmore in the past (The Siege is one of my all-time favourites, but I wasn’t as fond of The Betrayal) so I wasn’t sure what I’d make of this one. Unfortunately The Lie failed to grab me. It was too slow and gentle. Individual paragraphs were well written, but the central character was distant and I failed to become invested in him. This combined with a meandering plot to create a novel that wasn’t to my taste.

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Have you read any of these?

Did you enjoy them more than I did?


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4 Comments

  1. Kailana says:

    I have only read one Helen Dunmore and want to read more, but I can’t decide what to read by her. I will go look up The Siege. :)

    1. Jackie says:

      Kailana, I want to read all of Dunmore’s books eventually. I know I’ll have mixed thoughts on them, but it is the only way to find the ones that match my taste. Some people find ‘The Siege’ too dense and emotionally intense – if you don’t enjoy it read ‘The Betrayal’ – the two are opposite in style :-)

  2. David says:

    I finished reading The Lie last night, Jackie, and popped back here to read your assessment. I’m surprised that you found the plot ‘meandering’… if I had one niggle with the book it would be that it was too heavily plotted to the point that some of it felt like authorial contrivance – you could imagine it as a set text for GCSE students as it would lend itself to very easy and neat analysis. Having said that I found it to be very powerful and some of the writing was wonderful, both the scenes in the trenches and those in Cornwall – poetic and vivid but with a real earthiness. And far from finding Daniel distant I felt I was living cheek by jowl with him.
    What did you make of the ending? I wasn’t sure about it – it is inevitable and works perfectly, but it reminded me a bit of the ending of ‘The Dig’ in that there was something a bit too obvious about the symbolism.
    I haven’t read ‘The Siege’ or ‘Betrayal’ but I think I preferred this one to the two of hers I have read (‘Mourning Ruby’ and ‘The House of Orphans’).

    1. Jackie says:

      David, It is interesting to read your thoughts on this one. I agree that the writing was fantastic, but I just failed to connect with it. This meant I didn’t care what happened to Daniel and perhaps this meant I became annoyed by every plot development? I can see why you describe it as plot heavy, but because there was no force compelling me to read on I was bored with much of it.

      I also thought the ending was a bit predictable. It is a bit annoying when readers are spoon fed the message. I much preferred The Siege and Betrayal. I haven’t tried Mourning Ruby or The House of Orphans, but it would be interesting to compare our order of preference when we’ve both read all 5!.

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