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This Book Will Save Your Life - A.M. Homes
Member Name: ryanando
This Book Will Save Your Life - A.M. Homes
Advantages: Sturdy publishing
Disadvantages: Contrived plots, unbelievable characters, pointless storyline
Yes, I know it's been a while. In the time that I have been neglecting the interweb I have, in fact, been having a real life. Don't gasp like that, it's just not cool. The main reason I fell off the face of the planet was that I went on holiday for two glorious weeks in the sunshine. I spent my days lounging round in the sun, frolicking in the sea and eagerly drooling over any man under 30 (years old), 13 (stone) and above 18 (back to the years) that walked past. In my defence, they were all topless, Greek gods. Throw in that I was having to spend these two weeks in the company of my dearest but decidedly lesbionic friends while the cute guy I fancied was thousands of miles away, I was quite entitled to a bit of drooling.
Whilst I was sat on the beach, between frantically applying sun lotion to my pasty white skin (which, I have now discovered, no longer burns to a crisp but turns into a giant freckle fest, note to self: must complain at parents for that) and munching down on giant ice cream sundaes, I had to keep myself entertained.
Before I had left for this holiday I had indulged in a fantasy that I would, in fact, read a tonne of books while I was away, clearly forgetting that I am the worlds slowest reader, so I was quite well equipped with books. The first one I read on my holiday was "This book will save your life" By A. M. Homes. It was also the last book I read on holiday. Yep, two weeks to read one book. Throw me to the lions.
When shopping months in advance for this book, the giant 3 for 2 sticker on the front lured me in. Damn you Waterstones!! More damn on them since I ended up buying 4 books. You can pick this up from between £4 and £7.
The cover (which is slightly different from the one shown on dooyoo) is quite an appealing sight: six delicious doughnuts, set out neatly as if to shout "EAT ME!" to passers by. Given that I regularly shout that at passers by, I was impressed. Now... I know they say never judge a book by its cover but I have a word of warning for you: Wasps.
You need an explanation?? Oh fine. The whole two weeks I was in that rather warm part of the world (42 degrees in the shade at 7pm? Hell yes!) I was surrounded by wasps trying their best to nibble at my doughnuts. Very relaxing.
Another slight downside of the cover is the giant title. Think about it. You are walking along the beach and you see someone who has just frenziedly applied sun cream, ran away from a swarm of wasps and then gawped at a group of guys in trunks with a sad look in his eyes. You then notice the big bold letters on the book he is reading: THIS BOOK WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE. Just try and tell me you wouldn't think that was a self help book? I certainly felt like I didn't want people seeing the title just in case they thought it was. And that just isn't relaxing. I need no help. Well... I do, but I very much doubt I'm gonna get it from a book.
One last nasty surprise on the cover? As I peeled off the 3 for 2 sticker, I noticed a nice big circle up in the corner. "Recommended by Richard and Judy's book club!" WHAT!??!? You may like those two; personally they bore me to sobbing and I'd rather gouge my eyes out than be seen with a book endorsed by pseudo-intellectuals. I can't believe I just called R and J anything associated with intellectuals. Hmm.
---Never Ending Story---
So, now that I have rambled on about nothing in particular for a long time, I shall tell you about the story. That made me laugh. You'll soon realise why. Maybe.
We begin by meeting Richard. He is a total recluse, but a RICH total recluse. He sees his cleaner and people watches from the windows of his house (which is quite expensive by the way). Then his body starts giving him jip. After a trip into hospital and thinking that he might die quite soon, Richard starts coming out of his shell. God forbid, he even starts meeting some incredibly different people. And by different, I mean completely dull and normal. But he is rich. Its almost like he is mingling with the poor people. I do say!! When he meets some people, some crazy stuff happens, then he meets more people, more crazy, blah blah blah. I really wish there was more to it than that.
---Dance monkey, Dance!---
Unfortunately for you guys, I have nothing but criticism for the book. You now (if you wish) get to sit here and listen to me bitch and moan about a book.
First off, I have to point a rather large gun at the author for the names of her characters. Richard keeps bumping into women and thanks to the authors inventive names, I can't actually remember who is called what. They all sound very similar. Celia suddenly becomes Sylvia, Sylvia turns into some other woman and on and on goes this game of phonetic scrabble. I found it confusing to the point where I just referred to the characters the way I do with people I meet. I call them what they are to me, for example: Film guy, the "I'm-not-a-lesbian-but-I-like-your-hair" girl, creepy new-years guy. By the time I got half way through the book, most of the people other than the main guy all had their own explanatory sentence in my mind.
Along the same name related rant, there are a couple of "famous" people mentioned. Being a work of fiction, these people are completely made up. I don't appreciate being fed fake names and being told that everyone knows who they are. People should not write about famous people unless they are real. That's just a little bug bear of mine though.
---Look at me maw! I'm Random!!---
My next moan? The story we are painstakingly dragged through is a series of seemingly important - but ultimately not- random happenings. Can you feel the love? Don't get me wrong, I adore randomness for the sake of randomness but for crying out loud! This took the biscuit. This took the whole effing barrel and only left those crappy ones at the bottom that no one really wants. From the moment Richard has his episode to the end of the book, each event seems more and more contrived than the last. It isn't helped by the fact that Richard has a seemingly endless flow of cash to help him in and out of these weird situations. Forced randomness coupled with a character that no one bar a millionaire would be able to relate to on any sort of level left me staring at the pages thinking "this has to be important later on, why else would you put THAT in the story??!" more than a few times.
---Drugs, sex, rocking chair---
Oh what to pick on now. Homes. Er...yes, Homes constantly tries to push on you a wealthy side of life which means there's a few people smoking pot around fires discussing the finer points of life, shagging like there is no tomorrow and glugging down bottles of your finest whiskey. Most of them are probably just trying to escape being a character in her book. I wasn't a huge fan of this debauchery. I'm not even sure why. It just wasn't done well at all. It didn't fit with the characters it was thrust upon, almost like the author is there on every page with a grin and a sign saying "please tell me I am cool now?"
On top of all this healthy living is a giant layer of ACTUAL healthy living. Trainers, Gyms, spa's, silent retreats, alternative therapies, intimate massages, groups set up by plastic surgeons to help find lonely housewives jobs... (I am being serious). All of this was played on far too much, again like the author was seeking some sort of approval for knowing about these things. Long, in depth conversations about what breakfast is best for you and why are played out for you to... I don't know...use when you really need to bore yourself to sleep? The only upside of all of this is that the lead character occasionally gets a finger up his arse from his masseur in an attempt to relieve some sort of emotional stress or some such guff. And he likes it.
---I have no problem with my attitude---
On the note of bum loving, my next beef with the book (great word choice I thought) was the way Richard reacts to one of the gay characters. It's with disgust, fear, loathing but all hidden under those outer layers of calm. That's the most annoying kind of disgust. I wouldn't normally have a problem with someone not liking a gay guy, but for someone who on more than one occasion enjoys having his tomb raided by his masseurs pointing finger, it seems totally out of place.
The masseurs finger, however, is not the only thing that is out of place in the story. When people speak to each other, you may be left in total confusion as to what words belong to whom. You may be confronted with half a page of conversation, none of which contains any signposts as to who is saying what to who. There are points where I'm sure the same character is speaking but each sentence has been given its own line and set of quote marks. Maybe I am just easily confused.
---Where is the rest??---
So, if you were under the impression that anything would actually be tied up, make any sense or have any point, you will have persevered till the end. At this point you might want to move all the sharp objects and people away from you as you will want to fly into a fit of rage when you realise that it all ends in the middle of nothing. Nothing is tied up, I'm not even sure there is anything TO tie up if I am being honest. One last forcedly random burst and pop goes the weasel, the story is over. It left me feeling frustrated and quite glad I read it on holiday. Had I wasted my free time at home reading this when I COULD have been doing other things, I would be mightily miffed.
---I can haz gold star now?---
I feel I should look for at least one good point in the book. I am struggling. Give me a minute I'm sure something will come to me. I suppose that very occasionally the book will make you smile. A few of Richards very sheltered views on the world are quite funny and sometimes he is actually quite a likeable (if not incredibly dull) guy.
I also just realised the best thing about this book. It stands up really well to pool side abuse. While my friends books were torn limb from limb as the sun melted the glue in the spines and lotion seeped through the covers, mines remained intact. I feel this is nothing to do with Homes though.
---Is the scary man gone?---
It seems it is not a good idea for me to write a review on a book I didn't like when I am already in a foul mood. To hell with it. What's done is done! The book is not good. It is pointless and (much like myself) rambling. It's very hard to connect with any of the characters (I have connected with cannibalistic serial killer characters before, so its not like I'm a tough one to crack) and the whole plot is just ridiculously unnatural. Mostly it is just more proof that you should never trust what Richard and Judy tell you.
In conclusion, I would suggest you only read this if you A: are a very fast reader B: have time to waste or C: are being paid good money to read it.
You can come out now. I'm getting put back in my cage.
Summary: The worst book I have read in a long time.