Monday, October 12, 2009

Book Review: Andromeda Klein by Frank Portman

Andromeda Klein is a strange girl with a strange life. She’s into magic and tarot and reads obsessively on the subject. Her best friend has recently died, her much older boyfriend has disappeared and her parents are as kooky as she is. But things get really complicated when she discovers the “friends of the library” plot to rid her local library of all the best books.

Ok…first what I liked about this novel: Andromeda is a well-drawn and fascinating specimen. Her interactions with people are often unintentionally hilarious or even borderline dangerous because her hearing problem (something to do with brittle bones) means she mishears about 68% of what is said. There are many scenes where you just have to shake your head in wonder at the twisted imagination necessary to think up such absurdities and such wacky characters (I particularly liked the paranoid dad and the hyper-texting mom).

And of course I loved the bits about coincidence, being that it is the subject of my imaginary thesis. Apparently, “the universe chooses to show itself in tiny flashes, revealing connections amongst its diverse elements at odd moments. Coincidence, say the unobservant or the spiritually obtuse, when they notice them at all. But educated people […] know them as synchs, since the common understanding of coincidence implies something accidental, and there are no accidents.” (p. 2 ARC version. May vary from the final printed version.)

As Andromeda tells her “disciple” (a guy who for some reason would prefer to be her boyfriend), “A synch would be like: [….] you know, the Universe is nudging you a little there. […] Maybe it’s telling you something that’s going to happen, or maybe it’s showing something about what is happening. Or maybe it just wants you to wake up a little.” (p. 328, ARC)

But….because there is so little actually going on (the “friends of the library” plot notwithstanding), the book feels overlong and the constant references to obscure occult literature become tiresome very quickly. I have to admit that my eyes glazed over at times, and I resorted to skimming through some sections.

This will be a tough sell for the pink and glitter crowd, but I am sure there are some which will think it’s utterly brilliant.

ANDROMEDA KLEIN is available in hardcover now. Find out more about it at the author's website.

14 comments:

Anastasia said...

I think the pink and glitter crowd might have a tough time with this book, too, but that the non-pink and glitters might like it a lot. :D Thinking back on my high school friends, the cheerleaders would have probably been "WTF" but the goth/punks/everyone else would have probably been "OMG awesome!" (Maybe?)

I was sort of inbetween the pinks and the goths, so I'm not surprised that I love AK. It appeals to my weird-books-yay! sensibilities.

PJ Hoover said...

I've been really tempted to pick this up a number of times at the bookstore based on cover and title alone. Thanks for the review!

Lenore said...

Anastasia - It definitely falls into the weird-book-yay! category!

PJ - The title and cover really drew me in too.

Sadako said...

I love Frank Portman. I read his book King Dork and even met him at book expo 2 years ago. I can't wait to read his newest one. Great review!

Jazz said...

I'm reading this now and am enjoying it, but it is very dense and I'm already tired of the obscure references. Andromeda's oddness is what is keeping my going.

bermudaonion said...

I'm intrigued enough by your review that I would read this one, even if my eyes do glaze over a little bit.

Jena said...

I like the cover. If I were in a store, I'd definitely be drawn to the cover... (And yes, I do buy books based on the cover.)

Nicole said...

Even the excerpt that you provided is complicated. I would have to be in the right kind of mood for this one.

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Definitely seems like a book you'd have to really focus on to read. It sounds good in parts, but it would be awhile before I read it...as I did read his other book and wasn't a huge fan.

-Lauren

Alice Teh said...

I actually like the excerpt you've provided. Thanks for the review. :)

Brian James said...

great view...and personally I think the 'pink and glitter' crowd is pandered to enough and god knows there's an endless number of books for them to chose from.

the question is, will B&N ever start stocking titles other than those in any real quantities.

Lenore said...

Brian - Definitely! It's awesome that there IS something out there for those of us NOT in the pink and glitter crowd.

Zibilee said...

This book sounds very interesting to me. I loved the synopsis, but I am not sure how well the obscure references would go over with me. I think this is a book that I should try to check out from the library instead of buying. Great review!

Joanne ♦ The Book Zombie said...

Great review! I think this sounds like a fascinating read. No surprise to me, I already knew I was pretty far from being a pink and glittery person :)