Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Review: "The Angel's Game" by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

I don’t think I have ever read a quicker 500-page book than Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s second entry in his trilogy of The Cemetery of Forgotten Books, The Angel’s Game. It moves rapidly, with a cool number of plot twists at the very beginning, with an engaging story and characters that are cool and interesting to follow when they are being equally good or equally bad. It’s sharpness and wit make it the perfect kind of book to take to the beach with you. Having said that, it is a flawed book, with many problems keeping it from being a full-on masterpiece, which I think Zafon has in him. After a good opening, it follows that with a rather large section of the book that is very bland and never goes anywhere interesting, instead focusing on a conspiracy that is less interesting than the initial conflict, filling this plotline with interchangeable characters that I didn’t even bother to care about. But the opening, as I said is strong. The novel focuses on writer David Martin, whose sad childhood and existence is only outweighed by the worthlessness of his current job. He wants to write great works, and marry the girl of his dreams. But both are elusive creatures: he makes most of his money writing awful “penny dreadfuls” that he doesn’t take credit for, and the girl, Cristiana, refuses to marry him. After a laughably cruel twist of fate and even more laughably betrayal involving a writer he admired, a mysterious stranger approaches him and commissions him to write a religious text, which throws him in the middle of a cover-up involving the last tenant in the decaying mansion Martin is living end. This plotline is too big to ignore, and really slows things down after a killer first section, with David’s backstory only intensifying his loneliness at the beginning. It saves itself at the end with a heartwarming conclusion that works more on an emotional level than a logical one. Zafon is great writer and storyteller who deserves the international praise he gets.

Rating: 4/5

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