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Book Review: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Posted by gck Friday, November 2, 2012


Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathon Safran Foer

Genre: Contemporary Fiction (can I add a genre called “weird”?)
Rating: *** (out of 5)
Recommended for: People looking for a unique book, fans of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Back-cover summary:
Nine-year-old Oskar Schell has embarked on an urgent, secret mission that will take him through the five boroughs of New York. His goal is to find the lock that matches a mysterious key that belonged to his father, who died in the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11. This seemingly impossible task will bring Oskar into contact with survivors of all sorts on an exhilarating, affecting, often hilarious, and ultimately healing journey.

My review:
This is another one of those books written in the voice of an interesting kid. Earlier this year, I read Room, written in the simple voice of a 5-year-old trapped in a room with his mother. And of course, there was the autistic teenager solving a mystery in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. In this book, the narrator was Oskar, a 9-year-old boy who thinks like no 9-year-old I've ever met. I initially thought that he sounded like the autistic teenager, with his quirky ideas for inventions and how he would talk about giving himself bruises when he couldn't deal with what was going on. Others have described him as "precocious," but I don't think that really explains his unique voice.

Despite finding Oskar's voice and perceptions to be interesting, I never really was completely engaged in the book, which made it very difficult to finish. Oskar's quest around New York City just didn't hook me. The sudden switches to the grandparents' stories were confusing, and I thought they were just plain weird, with nothing that I could connect to. I read this on the Kindle, and all of the illustrations and graphics were probably less powerful than they would have been in a physical book. I liked some of them, but some of them didn't really add much to my experience.

Seems like a lot of people really loved this book, and some people really hated it. I can't get onboard with either group. To me, it was just okay.

1 Responses to Book Review: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

  1. I tried to read Everything is Illuminated once, but I just couldn't handle the weirdness! I'm glad I'm not the only one who struggles a bit with this author.


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