Monday, October 8

Book Review: 419

Title: 419

Author: Will Ferguson

Pages: 393

Summary: A car tumbles down a snowy ravine. Accident or suicide?

On the other side of the world, a young woman walks out of a sandstorm in sub-Saharan Africa. In the labyrinth of the Niger Delta, a young boy learns to survive by navigating through the gas flares and oil spills of a ruined landscape. In the seething heat of Lagos City, a criminal cartel scours the internet looking for victims.

Lives intersect, worlds collide, a family falls apart. And it all begins with a single email: “Dear Sir, I am the son of an exiled Nigerian diplomat, and I need your help ...”

419 takes readers behind the scene of the world’s most insidious internet scam. When Laura’s father gets caught up in one such swindle and pays with his life, she is forced to leave the comfort of North America to make a journey deep into the dangerous back streets and alleyways of the Lagos underworld to confront her father’s killer. What she finds there will change her life forever ...

My Rating: 3.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: This book was a very frustrating read for me, and I pushed myself through it. It's not a book I enjoyed at all, and not a book I'd ever recommend.

The main story line was my first turn off. The huge emphasis and over explaining of how the internet scam worked bothered me to no end. It went on and on about exactly how the guy scammed Laura's father. I found it became to repetitive and had to put the book down multiple times, because of it. The second half of the book was a little more interesting, particularly when it focused away from the Internet scam and on Nnamdi's story, but I think by that point I was already far to frustrated with the book to truly care about the characters anymore.

I didn't find the multiple storylines pulled together at all. It felt very forced and convenient all these characters came together the way they did in the end. And I didn't care for how short the chapters were. I found that although it was a good idea to have the multiple story threads explained throughout the book, the short paragraph chapters at times, was to disruptive to bring everything together. Sometimes it was just a simple E-Mail for a chapter, but I didn't find it added anything to the book, instead of helping create a story with multiple story threads that would come together, I found it disrupted and hindered it.

In the end, this was not a book for me.

Would I recommend it to read: I wouldn't. It It's not a book that captured me, and I was far to frustrated with book to want to recommend it to anyone.

What to read next: The Other Giller Longlisters,

Challenges: 12 in 12, 100+ Challenge, Canadian Book Challenge VI, Fall into Reading Challenge


  1. 419 didn't even raise an eyebrow for me in the Giller longlist, and it was certainly going to be my last read among the shortlist nominees. I don't think the Viking marketing group expected a nomination because not only were there very few blog reviews prior to the shortlist, but they didn't even have an e-book version available until just a few days ago.

    Judging by your review, I'd say my gut reaction seems on target. I also don't know that I could read about that particular scam in a serious light, since it's already the butt of so many jokes. Thanks for the heads-up warning here so I can at least go into the novel with eyes wide open.

    1. The scam having such a heavy focus in the book does take away from the book as a whole. It's such a ridiculous thing, although clearly people still fall for it. I had a hard time finding sympathy for Laura's father and his wife in the book, as it was her father's stupidity and greed that caused him to loose everything. This book was one of the ones I had the least detail about before reading off the longlist, as I couldn't find the ebook copy to see a preview.

  2. Interesting review. I was on the verge of purchasing this book some weeks ago, because Will Ferguson can be very readable, and the synopsis sounded intriguing. I browsed the book & had some reservations, so decided to check it out from the library instead. Haven't managed to get it yet - it's checked out/on hold for the foreseeable future - but from this review I think I'll be Ok with waiting.

    Ferguson is an uneven writer, in my opinion. When he's on a roll he's very, very good - but he has increasingly frequent flat spells. Our last Ferguson, Canadian Pie, had some moments of the old magic, but I ended up putting it down unfinished and have not yet picked it up in the months since Christmas.

    1. This was my first, and most likely my last time with the author. His other books aren't my cup of tea either. You're right about the flat spells, (and the author being on a roll), as the book is filled with flat spells.

  3. Aw, that's too bad; I was hoping that you would start to enjoy it more when the story shifted away from Laura and towards the characters in Africa. You already know that I found a lot more to enjoy in this work, so I shan't repeat myself here; the more I consider it, the more impressed I am with the multi-layered structure. It's my first of his works and I'm curious about the others, but I have a bunch of stacks to read through first. (You know all about that phenomenon, I know.)

    1. Oh yes, I know all about the phenomenon of the never ending, ever growing TBR stack. I just didn't see the appeal to the book or its characters. Ah well, on to the next one