Book Review: The Vegetarian, by Han Kang

5fa98b3d-55de-498e-bc0c-4d568001aeb4_editedI have always believed that for a story to be good it has to have an interesting plot and it also has to be well written, and I try to found my inclinations on this. Therefore, and based on this, I will dare to say that I have not disliked a book this much since Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (oh yes, I did hate that one indeed).

I understand if some of you disagree. This book has great reviews, and it promised a lot at the beginning, and I chose it myself mostly because of the way it was written -or, at least, promised to be written:

“However, if there wasn’t any special attraction, nor did any particular drawbacks present themselves, and theferore there was no reason for the two of us not to get married.”

But before you even finish the first part, this greatness-to-be fades away and the book is just a quarter of what it could have been. It tries to tell the story about how a woman decides to stop eating meat and then everyone around her starts going nuts.The book is divided in three different parts, each part narrated by a different character, and all these narrators seem to be equaly unpersonal and noncredible, and as flat as the rest of the characters in the story.

For me, the reason why it does not make justice to its promise is mainly because there is too much going on and the author did not really solve the problem, and cahotically and barely put the story together, leaving the reader with that feeling of apathy towards the characters.

I hope you do not get me wrong, the “main” character Yeong-hye- “main”, as she does not really have a voice of herself in the story- is intense and surrealistic, and I do get why the book has got so much attetion, as it presents something new, but this character, a character one should be able to feel at least empathy for, simply feels emtpy and unreal. There are inclusions of dreams throughout the book, which aim to give the readers clues of what is on her mind, but to me they just seemed randomly placed and non-related, and, again, they did not comply their finality.

“Sleeping in five-minutes snatches. Slipping out of fuzzy conciousness, it’s back – the dream. Can’t even call it that now. Animal eyes gleaming wild, presence of blood, unearthed skull, again those eyes.”

The worst thing that can happen to you when reading a book is that the book conveys you nothing, and that is what happened to me with The Vegetarian. Easy and quick to read, not a pleasure.

NEW PURCHASES

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When it comes to books, I have to admit that I am more of a buyer, as I tend to buy books and collect them in between my tiny room in London and my not so tiny room in Spain, and I feel quite proud of my little collection, although it does not make a difference if you like to spend money on books or you prefer to read for free in the library, the list of books to read is never ending, and so I guess I will have to rent a bigger room eventually.

Anyways, and regardless my lack of space, these are my picks of the month (only three, I’m taking it easy, I still have books that I bought last month and haven’t had a chance to read yet):

  1. The Vegetarian, by Han Kang

Excited about this one, I read the first page before buying it and I was already loving it. It is the story of Yeong-hye and her husband, and how their life changes when Yeong-hye starts seeking for a more ‘plant-like’ existence. Definitely doing a review after I finish it.

  1. How To Be Alone, by Jonathan Franzen

I know we can always expect something good from Franzen, as he does not publish anything he is not really happy about, but I have not heard about this one before, although it is supposed to be a collection of essays with critic tones, and I am a sucker for those.

  1. Hangover Square, by Patrick Hamilton

This was a random pick, I was basically attracted by the title and I did not even check what it was about when I bought it. It is set in London 1939, and it is supposed to be one of those convoluted stories you get yourself trapped in, so it seems worth reading.

Also, as you may have noticed walking down the streets after Halloween, it is Christmas season!  Which means Santa is coming with new books in his sack, and I think the 2016 list is going to be long…