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2018 Reading Challenge

2018 Reading Challenge
Jill Elizabeth has read 25 books toward her goal of 175 books.

Book Review: The Bookworm by Mitch Silver

“He’d given her very precise instructions, and she intended to follow them to the letter. With just a little . . . punctuation . . . of her own…”

What a great find this was! I am always drawn to books about books and the people who love them, so the title caught my eye right away (as did the gorgeous cover). The story wasn’t exactly what I expected, but that was not a problem at all. It’s not that the blurb isn’t accurate – it is, almost too much so. It is just that there were so many things layered over, under, and through the highlights mentioned in the blurb that the book felt richer and more decadent than the description – tiramisu rather than mere cake. Of course, as with any sweet treat, there were a few moments that felt a little too much – too unreal, too over the top, too convenient. But those moments were balanced out by a handful of characters (most notably for me, Lara the Bookworm herself and, even though he only appears in Dictaphone format, Noel Coward) who felt oddly real even when behaving in ways that seemed contradictory (real people are, after all, prone to such moments, even if we like to think we are not). The other characters (most notably, Grisha, the American and Russian presidents, Maltsev, and Lev) were caricatures but that seemed intentional, and it served them in their respective roles to be so. It allowed them to serve as appropriate foils for Lara as she sought to figure out what was going on around her (in both past and present). The build-up of tension was steady throughout, with excellent pacing for the reveals of the historical and modern conspiracies.

And then it all tied together and ended. Literally. The last 4% of the book revealed everything in a blur of revelations and action.

I must admit that I did think that the ending felt a little rushed and unbelievable. The build was so consistently even, with the tension ratcheting up bit by bit, throughout – then all of a sudden it all fell into place with reveal after reveal. Grisha’s and Nikki’s endings seemed a bit over-the-top, although they both were flamboyantly aggressive throughout the story, so perhaps that’s entirely appropriate after all. And despite the blurb telling me it would happen, I didn’t expect Lara and Maltsev to wind up as they did (in literally the last lines, no less). It felt off and unlikely, and I found myself oddly disappointed in her as a result. Not enough to throw off my good feelings about either her or the rest of the book, mind you, it just made me cringe a little and shake my head.

All in all I really enjoyed this one. The writing was engaging and kept me hooked. The characters were well crafted and suited to their respective roles in the story. And I really liked the way Silver managed the shifts between past and present by using the Dictaphone cylinders – it allowed him to lay out backstory without feeling like he was laying out backstory. The incorporation of historical figures and gossipy tidbits by Coward made the history feel more real, which helped sell the concept for me.

My review copy was provided by NetGalley. The Bookworm releases on February 6, 2018.

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