Sunday, September 29
Book Review: The Second Life of Samuel Tyne
Author: Esi Edugyan
Pages: EBook 263
Summary: In this riveting narrative of family and middle-age angst, Esi Edugyan gives us Aster, an all-white suburban enclave. Far removed from the frenzied ways of city life, this small town at first seems an idyllic place to hide away, a place for a man like Samuel Tyne -- an African immigrant caught in an impassive marriage, nursing a tenuous connection to his twin daughters, and harboring a growing hatred for his government job -- to escape to. When his uncle Jacob suddenly dies, leaving him a rural estate, Samuel promptly packs up his reluctant family, and moves them to his uncle's crumbling mansion. But Samuel soon discovers that Aster is not the haven he had wished for. In fact, there's a strangeness to the town only to be outdone by the strangeness of his own daughters, who are particularly affected by the town's odd goings-on, including a number of mysterious fires. In short order, the new life Samuel Tyne envisioned for himself begins to disintegrate as a dark current of menace is turned upon his family.
My Rating: 6.5/10
What I liked/disliked about the book: Even now, long after I've finished this book, I'm unsure on how I feel about it. It was a very slow moving book, with both the narrative and the development of the plot and characters - it felt almost "sleepy" in how everything was expressed and told to the reader. It's also a book which I liked it, but at the same time I didn't - and I'm still not exactly sure why.
The story itself had a lot to it. There's Samuel, who has tried to start a new life for himself, hoping things will turn out the way he want. There's his family, who are for the most part, useless in everything they do. They were a miserable lot, under achievers, but their future took a unexpected twist part way through the book. There was also the issues surrounding Samuels twins, and their storyline. I was starting to guess at a few plot points, but it was an interesting twist in the book. Unfortunately, I felt it was an aspect of the book that was explored enough. I don't have a favourite character, nor do I have one I could say I could connect to. Although I don't think they were poorly written characters, but they lacked something to ground the reader.
The author did a good job at creating the atmosphere of the book. It's a downer, there's no arguing that one, but the author creates a very complex set of circumstances and manages to tie everything together fairly well. I enjoyed the ending of the book and it set up a bit of intrigue for the reader. Near the end, I did find I was beginning to lose interest, but the last few pages, the author managed to snatch my attention back - although I was left with a lot of questions, it was a very fitting ending. The writing was solid - especially considering this was her first published book. I think the writing was likely the main reason why I stuck with the book. The plot wasn't bad, but it was just .... missing something to keep me invested.
Would I recommend it to read: I would I think. It's hard to say, the book wasn't bad, but it was different. I think some readers would like it, while others would struggle with this one.
What to read next: Half-Blood Blues, Under This Unbroken Sky
Challenges: 100 Books Challenge, 7th Annul Canadian Book Challenge, EBook Challenge, Mount TBR Challenge