Friday, September 23, 2016

Book Review: The Vegetarian

I received a free copy of this book for an honest review from Blogging for Books. Except that now that I have rated this book low, they have decided to "help" me select my next free book. Meaning they will not allow me to choose certain books for fear I will also rank them low.

I had mixed feelings going into this book, primarily because of the title and cover design, both of which looked overplayed and unoriginal. Beginning the book, something felt off. I cannot read Korean, so I have no idea how the text flows in its original language, but I have a feeling that this translation is poor. Certain sentences and words feel out of place, a little off, which allows the translation to show through, something that truly great translators know how to conceal.

At this point, I am halfway through the book. I plan on chugging along, but it is a slow chug. The book is easy to read, and it really should quick except that I can't settle into it long enough to zip through it. In fact, I find the book boring.

Part of my boredom stems from the characters, who are less full-fledged characters and more symbols for people, societal pressures, and points of view. This works in some instances, but this book doesn't offer enough philosophical meat (budumdum) for me to buy it. It either needs to give me more ideas or give me more characters, but instead it lacks a great deal of either.

There is a whole lot of telling and very little showing going on. The ideas of feminine oppression paired with meat-eating is not a new one, though I admit to having little knowledge of this idea in contexts beyond my own cultural boundaries. I'm usually not a fan of this comparison anyway, except for Maragart Atwood's The Edible Woman, which I think gets at the message subtly and with a weird, interesting spin. This one doesn't do it for me. 

Note that I did end up finishing the book, and it did end up being bad.