**WARNING: This is for people who have already read this book. There will be spoilers! If you do not want the book's wonderful surprises to be ruined, read my review of the book, read the book, then come back to read our chat. Thank you!**
Amber: Let’s get started! So what was everyone's overall impression of the book?
Erin: I haven't finished yet, but I'm on the fence about how I feel about the book. It certainly did not instantly grab my attention.
Kimberly: The book felt pretty slow to me and I wonder if it really needed to be as long as it was. After finishing it, though, it did pick up at the end and I was happy with how it turned out. Long stretches of narration with little action was sometimes difficult to push through, but overall I liked the concept of the book enough to finish reading
Amber: Yes, the writing was definitely purple prose--overly descriptive, fluffy writing. I was confused at first because I thought it took place in the 50s. It had a film noir feel to it. But then they started using the internet...
Marina: So my favorite part of the book was actually in the middle of the book, the conversation with Guy. Everything about the scene was so overly orchestrated. The location of the building, the attendants and costumes and the overly chic office made it seem like a badly designed movie. I got the impression that it was how Guy liked to live, in this kind of constructed movie fantasy of designers. The conversation between Guy and Strike, in contrast, felt incredibly real and raw. Guy's confusion over some of the questions, his conviction about Lula being murdered, and the way he tried to perfectly compose himself in the end just made the whole scene really fun to read. The part I most hated was the interaction with Rochelle at the McDonald's. I don't think it was well written. It feels like the author was confused about exactly what he wanted out of the scene and so extended it to where Strike was awkwardly following Rochelle down the street.
Amber: How did everyone feel knowing that this was written by the same person that wrote the phenomenon Harry Potter?
Erin: It definitely raised my expectations. I loved the Harry Potter series and it was so thoughtful and well-written that I anticipated this novel would follow in the same line. Unfortunately, I have not been super impressed with any of her novels outside of the Harry Potter series. And it really does sadden me to say that.
Renee: I think I was more disappointed because my expectations were so high from Harry Potter.
Amber: She is just talented at writing a particular type of book. She is great at world building and having an entire series for character development. Mystery novels by nature are cliche and formulaic unless written by someone very skilled at that particular genre
Marina: Strike is a dumb name.
Stuart: So I'll start by saying that I'm super biased for two reasons. 1. I haven't read a book for pleasure in ages, so this book was absolutely thrilling for me and I don't have much to compare it to which might explain why I loved the hell out of it. 2. I'm a male, and I think (while this may be controversial, but what the hell, should spark some dialogue) that this book was written for a male reader. I'll get to the male perspective in a moment, but first I'd like to say that this book was absolutely fun as hell to read, you might not think so because it took me forever and a half to finish it and post on here, but nonetheless. I thought Miss. Rowling did an excellent job at painting personalities.
Marina: I guess that would make sense that it would appeal to men. I really think that it wasn't very well developed, though there were a few things I did like. I just feel like the character development was very stereotypical and lacked real depth.
Stuart: Now at times, I'll admit, the descriptions of the scenes and personalities were a bit too much and not exactly smooth. it seemed like it was a brand new author who was writing them, not the writer of 7 of my favorite books of all time. But I can't deny that there was a very clear picture of what each character looked like, acted like, carried themselves, etc...
Marina: I know that Strike has a furry belly. LOL
Stuart: I think stereotypical is right, Marina. Amber, you touched on it too. She was certainly going for the noir feel. The furriest of bellies.
Marina: A lot of the scenes felt very forced and that the in between was an attempt to force the story to get to those specific scenes because the author really wanted to put them in there, whether or not they actually worked. What I will say is that the background characters felt more like real people than the main characters did. I really liked learning about all the different side characters connected with the death.
Stuart: One of my biggest gripes is just how drastically the pace of the book changed at the end! I mean some books are super "efficient"--a lot happens in only a few pages, (99 percent of this book was certainly not efficient). Other books are drawn out, wordy...honestly, Charles Dickens and Great Expectations comes to mind as an example. But that's a pretty interesting point! We certainly did learn a lot about the side characters, from Rochelle to Guy to Evan. Now, I've seen a lot of dislikes about my boy, Strike. Why (other than his name, but that was a hilarious comment hahaha) don't people like Mister Cormoran?
Marina: I think a lot of their depth comes from how minimally she went into some of their lives. Like, in the beginning, Rochelle is just the concept of a druggie hanger-on. We learn more about her in a very forced interaction, but the development feels like you would naturally learn about somebody in real life. I think that he would be someone I don't get on very well with in real life. He doesn't intentionally foster the 'dark and mysterious' air. However, he isn't very open about what he wants to say, he's constantly socially uncomfortable, and he only really gets on with other male characters. I'll let someone else reply for now.
Stuart: I agree, he's certainly not the type to work the room...now. But I think all that changed once he went to Afghanistan. Remember the story of how he met Charlotte? He was drinking at a party, he had a mate of his who he was hanging out with and he walked up to Charlotte with a corny pickup line. The whole situation reminded me of a college kid at a party. But (and the book doesn't really nail down whether or not this was before or after Afghanistan) when I read this scene in contrast with the rest of the book, it made me think that this party boy Strike disappeared somewhere in Afghanistan. And when he came back he became much more of a recluse. he didn't view people the same way and he had some sort of urge to continue to fight the good fight. So you have this party boy, who goes to war, and comes back and can't help himself but continue to seek out justice, no matter the cost to himself. He doesn't mention once that he'd prefer another life, a family, an actual place to live. He just accepts that he will do private eye work. AND he is even quick to turn down Bristow upfront because he thinks it is indeed a suicide like the rest of the world. Long story short. Strike may not be a people person, but he is all about justice. Oh, and I think it's written for males because of how much detail the author went into with describing female beauty. Attractive male characters were not present. And a random dude slept with a supermodel and I'm pretty sure that every young man's dream (but not me *cough cough* cuz I'm a gentleman...) Anyway, that's my rant
Amber: Haha, great points! So it sounds like you would recommend this book, Stuart. Would anyone else recommend it? I looked up reviews online and the general consensus seems to be that people loved it. But my opinion is that successful books are polarizing because it creates good discussion when some people love a book and other people hate it.
Kimberly: I actually enjoyed the book and will read the other two, eventually. Although there were times that I thought the pace of the book was slow, I did enjoy the writing and did think that Strike was an interesting complex character that we never fully figured out. I'm also interested in continuing to see how his relationship with Robin develops.
Amber: Alright, I will see you all next month for our book talk on Mud Vein by Taryn Fisher!