If you are a reader of mine or just happen to stop by from time to time you likely know I love anime. It is something I’ve been caught up in most of my life and one of my biggest hesitations about adding book reviews to that was the simple fact I have NOT read a lot of books. Honestly, I’d wager I’ve read about 120 throughout my life, that is 120 books compared to 200+ anime series I’ve completed, and countless manga chapters I’ve read. Now the point in saying all of this is simple, popular, and sometimes not-so-great anime trend but I usually can understand why, I sadly cannot say the same about the book space. Now Collen Hoover once was an author I couldn’t quite understand why she had as much success as she does until one day someone told me in a non-mean way that she writes for people that don’t read, and just like that it clicked. Now don’t get me wrong I am by no means bashing her or any author of her vein, but as I’ve learned more about book culture there is still this one book I can’t quite grasp the hype.
So I read Delia Owens Where the Crawdads Sing a little while back simply because I just keep seeing it everywhere. It dominated the NYT bestsellers list, they made it into a movie, then that weird news came out about the author wanting to be interviewed about a murder that happened in 2010, the book is literally everywhere so I said screw it and gave it a read. And boy was that the most trivial stale handful of hours I’ve ever dedicated to anything.
The general idea of the story is this, it takes place in the late 1960s in a rural part of North Carolina (there are also a lot of people bashing the geography of the book but I don’t live there so I can’t speak on it) specifically in the swamps where a lone shack stands. The owner of this shack is the Clark family, specifically a mother, father, and four kids one of them being Kya (which is a cool name) the main protagonist of all of this. So naturally, the Clarks are depicted as stupid, poor, their father is mean and beats them and I think are supposed to have the general feel of white trash. As such over time most of the family leaves the shack until Kya is the only one to remain, uneducated, unable to read or write, and barely able to talk she is abandoned to fend for herself. That is until one young fella, Tate Walker boats his way into her life. What follows is a pretty melodramatic coming of age as he teaches her basics in education, this last of course until he fucks off leaving her alone again turning her spiteful.
Over time some other guy by the name of Chase Andrews who is more or less the town jock seduces Kya and then dumps her this naturally upsets Kya and she returns to her anti-social ways sticking to her swamps and spending most of her time cataloging nature. I want to note quickly that this is actually done quite well, I disliked this book greatly as a whole but the amount of detail when it came to the nature part of it was notable and sometimes charming. This state of the book is ended when Chase winds up dead and Kya is blamed, she is then jailed and the back portion of the book is nothing more than a bogus trial that was equally mundane as it was silly. The evidence, the lawyers, all of it was completely outlandish and dull playing solely off the notion that Kya was an outsider and the legal system was biased against her. This of course was painfully completed off the backdrop that she is A) white and B) even though Kya, with no formal education of any kind, quickly fixes her dialect and verbiage oddly Owens doesn’t seem to hand an equal chance to any of the black characters in the book since they use the same broken slang. To be blunt she wrote them like a woman who is trying to show she isn’t being racist only to trip up on it.
Anyways the trial goes through Kya gets off free Tate comes back they live in the swamp happily ever after as Kya becomes some big whig swamp expert and sells her work to scholars from all around. Apparently NYT best-selling stuff.
Obviously, I have a lot of issues with the general plot of the book, it is full of whimsical often childish things that read a lot more like a longing teenage romance novel than a coming-of-age mystery it tries to paint. Sadly the characters are much of the same, none of them are really likable or remotely relatable, this exists within this often awkward dialogue that is sometimes in a broken dialect. All of this then is muddled in a very strange prose that reads a lot like the author trying to write at a higher level but one she doesn’t quite understand only to ditch it around a quarter through the book for a much clearer style. Needless to say, I wasn’t a fan of the book, It was mostly Ls with the one W.
When I set out to write this I had a goal to not just bash the book, I’m not versed enough to do that but I wanted to air out the things I thought were wrong with the book and how little seemed to be right. My mother LOVED this book but when I asked why she wasn’t able to give me much of an explanation outside of just enjoying it. I’m not sure I will ever get to the point in books where I understand trends, the sheer number that gets published every year alone would skew most notions but alas I’ll give it a try.
As these things go I likely will not be writing much about books I wasn’t a fan of outside a possible couple hundred word thought. When paired with the anime content I think it may just be too much but only time will tell. As always thanks for the read!