October – The versions of us

Ohhh October already? I am not sure where most of 2016 went if I’m honest, but what I do know is that the colder it gets, as the dark nights set in, the book club meetings get a little bit busier. We all like to snuggle up in our pyjamas on a winter’s night with a good book, it’s just a shame that in October we certainly didn’t have a good book to read.

The versions of us – Laura Barnett

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I opened this book, knowing nothing about it at all, my mind was open and I was hoping for a book that would blow me away, because after last month I needed that. Unfortunately, this book was not destined to restore my faith in literature, in fact, it was only marginally more readable than ‘Never let me go’. As the title suggests, there are different versions of a relationship in the book, three versions to be precise, and the book jumps from version 1, to 2 to 3, and sometimes from 2 to 3 and then back to 2 and 3, missing out version 1 altogether, then 1 to 3, then back to 1 etc, so it was important to pay attention. The major problem for me was that I didn’t want to have to pay that much attention, because none of the three versions of the story had caught my attention particularly. Here I was with this fluffy, chick lit book that was just way too much effort to read.

The most important piece of advice I can give you if you want to this book is ‘read it quickly’, there is no way I could have remembered which story was which if I’d read this book over a month, and would doubtless have put it down for good halfway through. The book starts when Eva and Jim are nineteen year old students at Cambridge, Eva has a boyfriend (David) and Jim is single. Their paths will cross (or not) one day in October, and from there this book explores three different directions that their lives might take from that day. There were a couple of really good characters in the book, but unfortunately they weren’t Eva or Jim, who I just didn’t really care about enough. The writing was dull, not much really happens in any of the 3 versions that is particularly interesting, and I just didn’t think it was worth the effort.

On the night of the meeting I was cautious, as I am not usually a fan of chick lit, so I had assumed that the others would love it. I thought I would be the grumpy old git in the corner ranting about how many hours I’d wasted, and I was never getting back after having read this drivel, but it turned out I was wrong. The very well attended meeting was full of members ranting about how unnecessarily complicated, and yet dull this book was, and we were all in agreement. There were 8 people there and nobody loved it, so as a group we gave the book 2*, but there were a few (including mine) that were under, I gave it 1.5 because I didn’t give up on it. I am certain that there are better books that cover the ‘what if’ scenario in a way that would make reading them a pleasure, if you find one, do let me know!

The Rosie Effect – Graeme Simsion

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I wanted to love this, I really did, I loved ‘The Rosie Project’, it was fresh, and fun, and Simsion covered Autism (Asperger’s Syndrome) so well in Don’s character, but this book was just too much. It was over the top, too extreme, and Don was Don x 10, the subtlety of the first book all gone, and I got bored. I read 100+ pages, and to be honest, I was a little annoyed at the way that Don had become a characature of himself, and by the end of the book I actually didn’t care whether or not he and Rosie stayed together.

If I’m honest, I wish this book hadn’t been written, it really isn’t written very well, and it really adds little to the Don/Rosie story. The one saving grace was the other storyline, the Don helps his friends to sort out their lives story, this was touching and made me smile. I would give the book a 2*, which does not come close to equaling ‘The Rosie Project’ at all (I gave it 4.5*). The group gave the book a 3* which is ok, I suppose, but only if you have some spare time on your hands, and need a book that you don’t need to think about too much.

Happy Reading!

Mel X

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