Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Review: "The Informers" by Juan Gabriel Vasquez

Maybe because The Informers is Juan Gabriel Vasquez’s first “real” novel (he published a few before, but he doesn’t consider them readable), but this is quite a step down from the sucker punch of his most recent novel, The Sound of Things Falling. That novel came out of nowhere, and was easily in the top five books I read last year. It is both a chilling and emotional journey into loss and the ever-present encompassing evil that has, unfortunately, made its way into the collective conscious of an entire country. It might be that this novel is a bit more personal in the themes that Vasquez expanded upon in The Sound of Things Falling, but reading through this novel, which is about 75 pages longer, it lacked an emotional core that was easily accessible for me to latch onto, making some of the politics it discusses a bit overwhelming. The novel deals with a writer, Gabriel Santoro, who publishes a book that his father, Gabriel Sr., a famous professor, destroys in a review. Afterwards, their relationship is strained, until Gabriel Sr. dies in a bus accident. Once he begins to investigate his death, and the more clues come out surrounding the nature of it, Gabriel uncovers a much darker secret between the book that he wrote, about family friend Sara Guterman, and the reasons for his father’s hatred of it; reasons that involve guilt over a betrayal, and the implications it had on the future. I still think this novel is okay. It has a great mood throughout, a kind of dank, inescapable loneliness that lies hidden on almost every page, but the affect that the tragedy has lies strictly within a small group instead of innocent bystanders, making the horror that Vasquez is so good at engineering less potent. If you haven’t checked out Vasquez’s work yet, you should do so; this is an imperfect novel, but still pretty damn good.

Rating: 4/5

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