Friday, July 18, 2014
The Quick by Lauren Owen
This one was very hard to rate. I fell at 3 1/2 because it purports to be a big novel and in that, it falls flat. In comparison, I confess it is better than Asylum, which I read at the same time. But it receives a slightly lower review because Asylum is, frankly, a kid's book, whereas, as I say, this purports to be more.
This is also a hard book to review because it seems that there are many out there who think it would be a terrible thing to SPOIL the.... well, what I would call the plot. So how are you to discuss it then?
About the plot, I can say these things: It is a book about many. It starts as if it is a book about a brother and sister; it continues as if it is a book about just the brother and the difficulties and crazy insurmountable challenges he will face; it further continues as if it is a book about just the sister and the difficulties and crazy insurmountable challenges she will face; it is throughout a book about love.
So, a little more practically, James Norbury and his sister Charlotte are all-but abandoned by their father in their childhood. Their mother having passed away, they are much left to themselves to grow up and attempt to learn about life. They have their private trials and tribulations, and ultimately, they seem to grow from them. And then fast forward. James is now a young man who has graduated from Oxford and is looking for a life in London. He must room with a young aristocrat who seems James' opposite in many ways. James and his aristocrat roommate make remarkable discoveries together and James finds love. (and this is one of the spoilers.... he finds love in "an unexpected quarter" is how the back puts it...)
Then tragedy strikes and James must continue his learning and life under difficult circumstances. (yes, another spoiler) And this is around where Charlotte revisits us as she attempts to assist James in his difficulties (spoiler, spoiler) and she meets someone who also is going through great difficulties (spoiler of course). They all work toward ... er, spoiler. And then spoiler, spoiler.
So yeah. JUST PURE SPOILERS. But that's ok. Do I recommend the book anyway? I do. See below...
In review, I will say these things: It's a quick read. This 500+ page victorian-esque novel reads quickly, and you must turn the page to see what next! and how! Although I was not actually shocked by any of the so-called spoilers (it wasn't that I expected it; it's that it wasn't shocking to me), I can see why some wouldn't want it "ruined" for them. So I refrain. But Owen has written one of those dark, gritty, victorian-underworld, mystery-fantasy novels that is very satisfying to read.
Where it fails? It was scattered and choppy and overly ambitious. It was like reading the Meaning of Night... but not as good. It was like reading The Passage, but not as good. It was like reading The Map of Time (Palma), but not as good. And it was all those "but not as good"'s that just kept adding up. The Quick is fun, it's fast, it's interesting, but it's not great.
There's a lot of promise in Owen's writing, and I will DEFINITELY read something else by her. This being her debut novel, she starts strong and I'm excited for her additions to the world of literature.
Overall, THREE AND A HALF of 5 stars.
Oh, and for those who really want to know? Spoiler 1: (highlight to see) In this victorian timed tale, James' "unexpected" love is another man and Spoiler 2: (highlight to see) and yeah, we're talking vampires here. But good vampires, like in The Passage, not like in Twilight. ;)