The story and themes are interesting but the execution is boring and puerile. It reads like a fiction workshop exercise. No one just "says" or "does" anything. They snort, they groan, they grin, they moan. The main characters are insufferable. The plot depends heavily on uninteresting coincidences. The only likable characters are minor and far too enigmatic to really get a grip on. The dialogue is cloying and the narrative history is just broadly shoveled at the reader.
If he is a mastermind, he must have been having a very bad day.
I know this book is the 2006 National Book Award winner, but it didn't do a thing for me. I thought it could have been about 100 pages shorter. I didn't care about any of the characters and thought it was rather boring. I struggled to finish it and won't be looking for any more by this author.
I was deeply involved with this novel starting on the very first page. Although many of the scientific principles are deep, the insight on the workings of the human brain are interesting, and the way they tie into the emotional structure of the story is seamless. Highly enjoyable, highly readable.
This book is not for the meek. Very "pay attention" reading. Interesting story though once you figure out what is up. I was not satified with the ending. ..but my dad loved it. It's the perfect book for someone who likes to read and LEARN something...in this case, the human brain...and how it recovers from trauma.
I don't understand what it was that won this book a major award like the "National Book Award". It was boring from beginning to end and I only stayed with it because I was sure I had missed the part that got the rave reviews from professional critics. The Dr and the sister seem to take center stage in this book and they have a bad case of "It's all about me". Minor characters add color but appear so seldom that it's not worth the pain to read about them. I thought the book was BORING!!! I won't look for another from this author.
Dreadful. I yearned for the cranes to return because I hoped that would signal the end. Pretentous, verbose, lacking insight, plastic characters - this one has it all. Only when the author drops off into stock descriptions of nature, weather, etc. is he readable or believable. Every character (and they are clearly "characters" despite how boring they are) thinks the same convoluted way.
I've always loved reading neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks's case studies, and this book read kind of like a twisted tribute to him, in that one of the main characters (Dr. Gerald Weber) is also a writer of similar case studies but is suffering an existential mid-life crisis over the authenticity or value of his life's work. Also there is Mark in Nebraska, whose car rolls over and wrecks on a remote stretch of road in the dead of night; when he awakens he no longer recognizes those he loves best (sister, dog, double-wide).
Dr. Weber travels out to diagnose Mark's Capgras syndrome, meets a nursing assistant (Barbara Gillespie) who isn't who she seems to anybody, and then there are these endangered giant red-headed cranes that gather in this town every year (that practically every culture throughout history seems to claim we humans are related to), there's a mysterious note left on Mark's bedside table at the hospital, and parallels are drawn between two nascent wars: the US and the Middle East post-9/11 and another local one between Developers and Environmentalists - and incredibly Mark's unrecognized sister Karin is intimately involved with the leaders of both those movements! And yet all of it flows and works together and resolves, incredibly. Wow, what a smart book.
It was draining to follow, and there were a couple spots where I did get lost. Like this line on pg 318, "Barbara's face, that open oval, still regarded him, the simplest interrogation. His insides, airborne, answered for him." I thought that meant he threw up. But it was never addressed further. Huh. And there were some foreshadowing things that I never figured out too, where Unrecognized Sister Karin recognized something of herself in Dr. Weber, and he in turn recognized something of himself in Barbara Gillespie, but oh well, I still really enjoyed this book anyways. Wonder what Dr. Sacks would make of it.
I would rather go to the dentist than ever read this book again. The main character is suffering from Capgras syndrome after a near fatal accident. He thinks that everyone is made up to play a character from his life before the accident and nothing is real. His story is compelling but the other people in the book make this story down right boring.
I can't find the review I wrote shortly after finishing this book. As I recall, I was a little disappointed.It is about a girl whose brother receives a traumatic injury and falls into a coma. She goes, at great expense to her career, finances, life in genera, to nurse him back to health. Unfortunately he has a strange mental problem in which he cannot believe that his sister is his sister, and believes in spite of all sorts of proof to the contrary, that she is an imposter. This is, indeed, how a fixed delusion works. The story then revolves around Mark trying to solve the mystery of how he became hurt in the first place and why. Interesting, and the "Capgras" syndrome is deftly woven into the story line. See what you think....
This book had a lot of filler stuff I didn't understand. It was very long, and it seems to me that the same story could have been told - even better - with less filler.
I did still enjoy the overall story.