Book Review of A Fraction of the Whole

A Fraction of the Whole
reviewed on + 22 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5


I really really wanted to like this book. In fact I wanted to love it. I wanted it to be one of those special books that keep you up late at night, struggling against sleep to devour as many pages as possible with no concern whatsoever for how large the bags under your eyes will be the next morning. The critics reviews were shimmering, folks on Goodreads seemed to enjoy it, and well, maybe that's the problem with reviews...regardless of how much of the human population enjoys something there is still a good chance that you will not. Take "Glee" for example...sorry folks but I just don't get the allure of that show.

The book started out promisingly enough and early on I was genuinely interested in finding out what lie ahead in the ridiculously absurd lives of Jasper & Martin Dean. Their stories were bizarre, quirky, odd, and darkly humorous. Being a somewhat pessimistic person myself I initially loved their pessimism for their lives and everything around them. I think everyone can relate at times to the ridiculousness of some of the situations that life confronts us with and I really appreciated Toltz's unique perspective on these events.

Then an odd thing happened...After reading countless pages of incoherent philosophical ramblings, most of which dealt with Martin & Jasper's general disdain for life itself, the allure began to wear off. I found my decreasing like for the characters (and the book itself for that matter) to be proportional to the increase in the amount of cynical diatribes I was forced to endure. I get I get it...Life sucks and then you die and all that jazz, but do I need to be reminded of this for 561 straight pages? That dead horse was beaten one too many times by page 67 or so. Now I don't need what I read to be all cheery and filled with blooming flowers, hopping bunnies and cute bird couples chirping playfully in a cool spring breeze, but I do need to care about the main characters at least a bit to maintain my attention. The problem was that Jasper & Martin's cynicism for life itself just grew incredibly tiresome and I stopped caring about them completely. After all, what's the point of a story if you could care less what happens to the characters by the end of it?

All is not lost though as Toltz really does write beautifully. There were many times throughout the book where specific lines were written so wonderfully that I needed to stop and reread them multiple times so that I could fully adsorb the full spectrum of their amazingness. I mean seriously, the line "To have a child is to be impaled daily on the spike of responsibility" really resonates with a 30 year old single guy like myself...Do I want kids one day? Yep, but not now! Who will watch him/her when I go to a coffee shop and read for an hour while enjoying a cup of joe? A selfish thought for sure but it was as if Toltz had scraped this thought directly from my brain and converted it into text in a much more eloquent manner than I would ever be able to. In fact, I was certain to reread that particular quote to my girlfriend instantly after I absorbed it. Thanks for the support Mr. Toltz!

When all was said and done however I really struggled to get through this book. The length had nothing to do with this, as I love reading massive tomes, but the somewhat inconceivable storyline coupled with the aforementioned philosophical mumbo jumbo grew to be too much for me to swallow by about halfway though. I'm not one to leave a book unfinished however and thus I soldiered on to its severely anti-climatic conclusion. All in all I think Toltz has a promising career ahead of himself and I wouldn't hesitate to check out his next novel. I'd just ask that it be less bloated with pages of pointless material and just a tad bit less pretentious. Just a tad.