Saturday, June 23, 2007

Carry Me Down by M.J. Hyland

Completion Date: June 20, 2007
Publication Year: 2006 (from Harper Collins)
Pages: 344
Received from Harper Collins in 2007.

Reason for Reading: Shortlisted for last years Booker Award.
Eleven-year-old John Egan has an unusual talent: he can tell when people are lying. John hopes that one day his gift will guarantee his entry into the Guinness Book of World Records. Until then, he must navigate the powerful and destructive undercurrents of his loving but fragile family.

When John and his parents move to the council-flat slums of Dublin, John finds himself in a perilous world. Even his relationship with his mother—a bond that is peculiarly close—begins to break down. Amid the confusion of shifting landscapes and loyalties, he can rely only on his ability to detect lies. But John’s obsession for discerning the truth becomes a violent and frightening fixation.

As she did in her internationally acclaimed debut, How the Light Gets In, M. J. Hyland introduces us to a character whose voice is immediate, compelling and real. Simply told and beautifully written, Carry Me Down is a singular tale of disturbed love.

I have come to the conclusion over the years that books with children as the main characters and narrators are very hit or miss for me. The writer has to capture the child in just a certain way, or I find myself losing interest. John, the eleven-year-old narrator, annoyed me. Some people say that if you feel something for the characters it means that the book is speaking to you. I seem to miss out on that idea, though, because if I find the main character annoying, the book loses part of its appeal for me. Take Water for Elephants, the book was interesting and had a good subject matter, but I found the main character so annoying that it took away from the book for me. The same thing happened with this book.

That being said, the subject matter of this book was something that was interesting, and even though John annoyed me, there were other aspects of the book that made up for it. I personally do not think it would have been worthy of the Booker, should it have won, because there are so many other good books out there. That is not to say it was a bad book, just not what I think of when I think of award-winning. Taking place with a family that is on the brink of destruction, John has a rather disturbing relationship with his mother. He is rather tall for his age, a boy caught in a man's body, and his thought processes can be rather disturbing. Some of the events that happen in the book you have to sit there and remember that he is only 11, so it might not make sense to an adult mind, but it is perfectly acceptable to a mind on the brink of maturity.

The mother is a very odd character, it is very likely safe to say that she has undiagnosed depression and it might be from her that her son gets some of his strange tendancies. The father, on the other hand, is distant from John. He has dreams that he wishes to fulfill, but I do not believe that he has the drive to succeed with them. These are the three main characters, with a few others appearing from time to time including a gambling grandmother, a book-selling aunt, her reclusive husband, some cousins, and a few other characters here and there. John is also obsessed with breaking world records and he believes that he is a human lie detector.

Parting Thoughts: Overall, for me, just an average book. It was not bad, I read it the first day that I got it, but it was not great either. Hyland has a lot of things going on, though, and while I think she is a great writer, I just could not get passed my annoyance with the main character.

Totally Not Important, but I am telling you Anyways: I just finished a wonderful historical fiction book set in Iran. It was totally a different sort of historical fiction than I am used to reading. I will review it either tomorrow or later in the week. I am currently reading Wit'ch Fire by James Clemens. It is actually another pen name for James Rollins, so I will be interested to see if this book is as good as his non-fantasy writing. It is book one in The Banned and Banished series. Then, I plan to read Icehunt by James Rollins or a book by Margaret Weis, as she is author of the month on Twisted Kingdom this month. (Speaking of Twisted Kingdom, where are all my Colleen Gleason book pictures? I like to think that more than one person in the world had a camera!) Now, if you will excuse me, I am going to sneak myself upstairs and away from the large group of girls that are currently taking over my house!

Anyone reading anything good that they feel like sharing? Hope everyone is having a good weekend!

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, if I find the main character annoying, my enjoyment of the book decreases considerably. The book may be speaking to me, but it's saying things I don't particularly care to hear.


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