Sunday, November 02, 2008

Book Awards II Challenge: The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Title: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Author: Junot Díaz
Genre: Fiction
Published: September 2007
Pages: 335
Rating: 7 / 10
Challenges: Book Awards II Challenge
Awards: Pulitzer Prize

Synopsis (from the back cover):
"Oscar is a sweet but disastrously overweight ghetto nerd, a New Jersey romantic who dreams of becoming the Dominican J.R.R. Tolkien and, most of all, of finding love. But Oscar may never get what he wants. Blame the fukú - a curse that has haunted Oscar's family for generations, following them on their epic journey from the Dominican Republic to the United States and back again."

My Review: I really wanted to love this book. I had read so many great reviews, it had such a promising premise, and I really love discovering allusions. Unfortunately, something about it just didn't grab me. I loved the beginning, I loved the references (I really would like to see an annotated edition, with all of the allusions explained), I loved the Spanish slang (I even learned a few new words) and I especially loved Oscar. But the way the book jumped around and changed characters really confused me. It helped to explain the idea of fukú and how it affected Oscar, but I found it disconcerting. The narrator was an interesting choice - "The Watcher" is Oscar's college roommate and his sister's ex-boyfriend - but he's just so easily distracted. He wanders off on tangents and I just kept thinking, "Okay, and...?" The footnotes were also helpful, most of the time, and I liked them because they were so Terry Pratchett. But on the whole, I just didn't "get" the book. I had to force myself to read the middle part, and it ended up taking me a few months to get through the whole thing. And it's not even that long! There are some funny parts (Oscar's idea of a great pick up line: "If you were in my game I would give you eighteen charisma!"), though, and I am glad I read it. Essentially, it's a book about a nerdy kid who wants to be loved. Who hasn't felt that way at some point in their life?

Other Reviews:

If you have reviewed this book as well, leave me a message in the comments and I'll link to your review.


Nymeth said...

"and I liked them because they were so Terry Pratchett."

hahaha, me too :P

Anyway, sorry that the book didn't quite work for you, Jessi!

Anonymous said...

yea! it's read and done, then, right? What an impressive list of books read for this past WEEK?! wow. good job.

(ok - you're officially bookrolled now.)