Warning: This review will contain excessive gloating over the fact that I finished this book. BECAUSE ITS FUCKING HUGE. It’s loooong. It’s massive. And I finished it. I fucking finished it. And I will keep repeating it.
So essentially, this book is a coming of age story of a boy named Theo, who, in a terrorist bombing, loses his mother, his brain and his common sense, steals a painting, lives the rest of his life in his own stewed pot of sadness, disaster and drugs. Lots of that. (me being me, extremely enjoyed the drug parts).
If I’ve made the book sound bad, then let me reiterate, it’s not. It’s good (really). Parts of it. Donna Tartt knows how to write splendid sentences (however long). She creates scenes that felt extremely “lived” in to me. Even though the book wasn’t a day by day live through of Theo’s life (I know right?!), every scene she went into, felt fully sketched to me. I was the air around the happening. Hence I could handle reading it (most of the time).
The reason I read this book is due to it’s start. I loved the start. It’s magical and it made me fall in love with it. I loved the writing style, the ideas and the thoughts, the little things, the sentiment, the breath, the air, you get it. But you can’t have an entire long book with all sentences equally rich and bursting. The sentences are always often lovely and lofty but also many and could’ve done with some erasing.
The story itself is colorful, it includes Vegas and a mad best friend, an amazing old man named Hobie and his antique store and lots of wood-talk, the underground stolen painting mafia, New York and the art scene and a very worrying anxiety filled mission. In fact to me, the painting was a bother, something I wanted Theo to do something about, in a clever manner. Which Theo is completely incapable of.
Theo. The aforementioned insufferable character. Is dumb. Theo is for the majority of the book a passive character. This is a plot driven book. Theo is a spineless person. When he was smaller Theo was cute. Full of fantasies in his head, dumb stuff done with friends, and stupidly wanting to make his mother take him to that restaurant while being in trouble at school. Typical kid. I liked him.
And then he gets depressed and droning and STAYS THAT WAY. FOREVER. (And it gets old)
This is a plot driven book, let’s make that clear. Theo takes about 0.2 decisions in the entirety of this book, half of them blind and dumb. In fact, Theo finally makes a huge and important decision at the near end of the book AND I WAS ECSTATIC. It goes a different way from there but that’s a different topic.
What I will say about this book is that it did a full circle. In the middle, it droned, punctured and waffled. But in the end, it was the book that I started reading. The book with all those wonderful sentences and ideas. It was fantastical and romantic and made you want to stare after it. It was philosophical with long tangents that hardly made sense but was beautiful.
Donna Tartt definitely has something here. This book is chock filled of different situations. It’s life like, so I never doubted the situations happening. Theo was disappointing a lot, especially with the ‘I-will-not-learn-even-a-little-bit-of-German-or-anything’ attitude, but by then I was way more interested with the story, it’s direction and the final result. And even Theo progresses by the end. He sets out to painfully correct some of his wrongs in excruciating detail. He accepts and digresses and learns and stops being a human in hell. He moves on, he does something. A+ for him.
This book had another element which I find very interesting. Painting theft. Is it ethical? What about in Theo’s situation? Does intent even matter? Maybe not for the law but in a fellow human judgement kind of way?