Sunday, January 8, 2012

Review (book): Bones of the Moon

This book was given to me as a Secret Santa gift from work. I feel like buying a box of chocolates for my Santa, since without her thoughtfulness, it's very likely I would never have read this. Ordinarily when I read a book, I want to finish it as fast as I can. I want to know: what happens? Who 'wins'? Who dies? How does the adventure end?

This is the first book I can ever remember not wanting to finish, not because I didn't like it, but because I cared so much about the characters, and I was so enraptured with the story that I didn't want anything bad to happen! I knew it was coming and I didn't want to know! The book is very character driven, the characters lives and actions twine and almost rebound off each other in different ways and that's really what moves the story. There's a bit of action in it, but for the most part the story is quite emotional and cerebral.

If I had to label this book (as a genre) I would say it is magical realism with a touch of horror/suspense (I know those are different and I'm sorry for mashing them together indiscriminately, but I'm not experienced enough with them to distinguish!) The story is a woman named Cullen who has these vivid, sequential dreams. About a third of the way into the book, she becomes concerned about the intensity of the dreams and goes to see a doctor about them. The doctor assures her that she seems like a perfectly normal, well-adjusted person and that the dreams are absolutely nothing to worry about. She's not a hundred percent convinced about this, and she's proven right when her dreams begin to intersect with reality.

Jonathan Carroll's way of writing is effortlessly engaging (or so I found it). This book absolutely sucked me in. I read it slowly, over a period of several days, even though (by my usual 600+ page standards) it was relatively short. I can think of only a few books I have taken my time with like that (and I'll be reviewing one of them soon).

Without risking over-analysis (thanks, uni!) I'd have to say that the themes and issues this book touches on are done beautifully - it presents some ideas about psychology, relationships and mental health without being preachy. I would however, mention that some people might find the characters a bit less 3D than they could have been, particularly the character of Elliot, who plays Cullen's 'gay friend' and falls into a few stereotypes. My only comment on this would be that the book is told in first person, 'by' Cullen, and so the limited scope is a little bit excusable.

In the interests of honesty (and I do hope this doesn't spoil the book for anyone): the book does contain abortion, murder and some description of mental illness. It is fairly matter-of-fact, and I didn't pick up any definite moral standpoint, but not having a personal experience with any of these issues, I can't say as to whether or not some people who have will find the books' treatment of them a little 'lightweight'.

CONCLUSION: As an avid fantasy reader I very much enjoyed this brush with semi-realism, and I do hope you will consider picking up Bones of the Moon. I'm off to see if any of Carroll's other work is available in a  Kindle version - I foresee many pleasurable commutes to work in my future!

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