Thursday, May 29, 2014

Review: "The War of the End of the World" by Mario Vargas Llosa

Mario Vargas Llosa is a writer I have wanted to like for a while, and with the novel I have just read, The War of the End of the World, he comes a bit closer to being a writer whose books I look forwards to reading once a year. While it is denser than The Feast of the Goat, with a more complex plot line that is easily followed, this epic, apocalyptic tale is a much more fun book to read. You can tell, even if you find yourself lost from time to time, that this is a book written with passion and anger, and it is very hard to ignore. It has moments of great beauty and crushing violence that are hard to shake off. The plot deals with a partially true account of a tiny republic in Brazil called Canudos led by a charismatic god-like leader who saw that the antichrist had come to Earth not in the form of one man, but in one entity, this being the dictatorship that ruled Brazil at the time, and his lawless, government-less society as the only way to save the world from falling into evil hands. The novel charts the rise of this large community and the attempts by the government to take it down. There is a lot going on in the book, so much so it is hard to find your way back if you get lost, a problem that I feel would have been solved by a character chart at the beginning of the novel. But I never felt like I was wasting my time reading this book. While it lacks in essential areas, I did enjoy a lot of the vignettes about the people whom the leader of the Canudos, known as “the Counselor”, has taken under his wing. Each is a person with an awful past that brings into question the republic’s motives. I do recommend this book, and any other Llosa books you can get your hands on.

Rating: 4/5

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