Tag Archives: reading

The Clasp

theclasp.jpegI recently read The Clasp by Sloan Crosley, and it honestly kind of bummed me out. The characters were morbidly cynical, and the pacing of the novel overall felt a bit off to me. The climax of the story didn’t even start taking place until almost 200 pages into the book due to a lot of character buildup that ultimately felt like too much content with little substance.

The story was about a group of friends from college who secretly hated, or at least strongly disliked, one another. It was so depressing to read the inner monologues of all these people getting together at a mutual friend’s wedding and shitting all over everyone in attendance. I can’t imagine going to any of my college friend’s weddings and feeling anything other than extreme happiness for them—except maybe my douchebag ex-boyfriend, but that’s because he’s actually just a mean person—but I guess to each their own.

It wasn’t like it was just Victor—who is pretty much the main protagonist even though the story followed two other characters, Kezia and Nathaniel, as well—that was super cynical. Even though we were supposed to believe that Victor was the most depressed and negative person in that group, I really didn’t think Nathaniel or Kezia were any better. Kezia complained about everything in her life, constantly rolling her eyes and scoffing, while Nathaniel compulsively lied about every occurrence in his life. And for some reason, they were all friends even though they complained about each other all the time. It never seemed like they actually enjoyed each other’s company aside from a few moments where they weren’t insulting or making fun of one another.

The story follows Victor, a depressed coder who was recently fired from his job, after a mutual friend’s wedding. He drunkenly falls asleep on the groom’s mother’s bed, and she’s mostly fine with it the next morning. She even shows him where she keeps her jewelry, despite discovering that he had tried to steal it the night before. She shows him a photo of an expensive necklace that was stolen from her aunt, which Victor then steals from her. He then turns it into his mission to go to France to search for this necklace, aka he breaks into a chateau and is promptly arrested. Fortunately, Kezia is also in France on an urgent business trip, and Nathaniel happened to be there too just because he needed a vacation. What luck! From there, although Victor never actually told Kezia much, she somehow pieces together his entire plan and is able to locate him in the prison right after he’s arrested.

And what would any group of close-knit “friends” be without a little bit of romance drama? So, get this. Victor loves Kezia, but she just sees him as a best friend. Bummer! When she shut him down in college, he went into a spiraling depression where he cut everyone out of his life for months and no one really tried that hard to help him. Meanwhile, she’s apparently loved Nathaniel the entire time, who was Victor’s old roommate and pretty much his closest friend in college. When Kezia and Nathaniel finally do sleep together, though, she pumps the brakes because it turns out that she’s just not that into it anymore even though he appears to be super into her finally.

I think?

It ended very strangely with the three “friends” returning from Paris on a plane together. Kezia and Victor are chatting, laughing, and generally having a good time while Nathaniel is ignoring them and pretending to sleep. Victor is in a grand mood because he got beaten up in a small village outside of Paris, had all his stuff stolen, got arrested for breaking into a chateau, and then was randomly offered a job. Victor goes to the bathroom, Kezia pokes fun at Nathaniel, he gets moody and keeps ignoring her, and THE END!

And that’s pretty much all she wrote. It starts abruptly, not a whole lot happens in the middle, suddenly there’s action for maybe 40 pages, and then it ends similar to how it started. I wouldn’t have minded as much if it had been a more interesting story, but it fell flat. I read actually on another review that the author said she cut over 200 pages out of the original piece, which actually makes a lot of sense. It felt like there was a lot missing from this story, and it’s unfortunate that it wasn’t strung together is a more concrete way after the other content was removed. Ah well.

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And The Mountains Echoed

16115612Khaled Hosseini is one of my favorite authors; his novel A Thousand Splendid Suns is one of my favorite books of all time that I will recommend to anyone when given the chance. I seriously cannot talk highly enough about this book. The way Hosseini is able to create a compelling story full of in-depth, completely rounded out characters is remarkable to say the least. The Kite Runner is also amazing, and gets way more acclaim than his second novel (although I would argue his second is his best). Therefore, I had pretty high expectations for And The Mountains Echoed.

I wasn’t necessarily disappointed because I’m mildly addicted to his writing style, however, I think this was the weakest of his novels. Hosseini tells the tale of two Afghan siblings that are torn apart at an early age and how that affects them throughout their lives. He tells this tale from multiple perspectives, which is a way of storytelling that I truly love. There were some narrators that I didn’t believe totally advanced the storyline, however—the Greek doctor, Markos Varvaris, and Nabi’s two young neighbors being some of them (especially Markos because his storyline was the longest and most drawn out). While these characters had interesting backgrounds and I can see how Hosseini ties them into the overall theme of family relationships and obligation, I really felt like they were a bit of a stretch since they weren’t very closely connected to Abdullah or Pari, who are the characters that he initially got the audience interested in and shaped his story around. On the other hand, there were other story arches that I felt were cut a bit short, and I was left hoping I’d get some sort of closure on them. Instead I came out at the end of the book a bit disappointed (Parwana particularly comes to mind here) and feeling unfilled, as if there was more information that I needed to fully complete this story.

Other than that, the English major geek inside me thoroughly enjoyed how Hosseini connected the fable that Abdullah and Pari’s father told them, which started the novel, to the end of the book. Like the father in the tale, Abdullah and Pari were both able to forget one another in their own ways so they were no longer plagued by the pain it brought them to know what they were missing out on. And in those times without one another, they were able to shape successful and generally happy lives, full of ups and downs as lives oft are. Although my geeky side was giddy, my Hosseini fangirl side was heartbroken—I yearned for the closure that could have come from two long lost siblings being finally reunited. Even if Pari had seen the box of feathers at the end and said something along the lines of, “Well, this is strange! I don’t understand what these are, but I’ve always been entranced by feathers,” then I would’ve been thrilled. Or if Abdullah had even the slightest, tiniest glint of recognition of his missing sister. But no, NOTHING. There is no sort of closure, and this is probably me just whining as a reader but goddamn.

Besides that, though, I honestly loved this novel. I love Khaled Hosseini and will always be eagerly looking forward to his next piece. And in the meantime, I’ll be rereading A Thousand Splendid Suns every few years and reveling in its perfection.

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