The following review is for the book The Geographer’s Library. Please note that this may contain spoilers.
This book was at most a disappointment.
I was looking forward to it deeply not only because it was about alchemy, which is so mysterious in the first place and because someone recommended it to me claiming that it was a very interesting read. Maybe, I interpreted that “interesting” in the wrong way, but this book was most definitely not what I had been hoping for.
To start out, I’ll mention few things I did like about this book.
The little short stories of each artifact interspersed throughout the book was an interesting idea that I personally like a lot. Every one of them were linked somehow and the putting everything together always makes the reader feel good, because you actually figured something out. They always ended with an artifact that, while bizarre, was also strangely interesting. Surprisingly, for the terrible quality of the book, I really did like those short stories.
Here’s a small thing I really liked as well: the letter at the beginning. Viewing this solely from a “I’m at the bookstore and I’m scanning for a book to buy” point of view, this letter at the beginning surely drew me in. It’s ambiguous and you can’t just find an answer by flipping through the first few pages of the book (though, granted, it’s not hard that to write a mysterious letter).
Austell was one of the few characters that I kind of liked. He was silly and a perfect way to get some comic relief from this death that happens. Yes, he is quite exaggerated and I admit, no real person would probably act like him, but nonetheless, he has something about him that makes you want to like him. Best character of the book.
To put it simply this book sucked.
Fasman tried all too hard to build suspense, tension and mystery. I could tell that this was suppose to one of those books that keep you up all night turning pages, but it was not. Quite the contrary, it took me a whole week to read those 400 pages (which to put in prospective, I read around four or five hours a day and I guarantee you, I am not a slow reader. Obviously, I just could not focus.) The story took forever and there was quite a lot of unnecessary extensions of the plot. Fasman was just trying too hard to have suspense and action and it left the book feeling strained and winded.
To start with, the main character, Paul, is extremely weak. His first reaction to almost everything is “I blushed.” This is a grown man we’re talking about. A journalist, determined to find out what happened to a mysterious dead guy who obviously has had violent dealings all of a sudden blushes at a woman and everything that happens thereafter? This same person also walks recklessly into a bar “because he thought it was a good idea” and then gets shoved stupidly out the bar realizing that he actually had nothing that could physically back him up. He also half breaks into a house with a policeman but faints at the sight of a hole in the ground. It’s one thing to create a character with great contrasting characteristics, but it’s a whole other story to create one who just doesn’t make any sense.
Hannah makes no sense. I’ve reread the all of the chapters where she appears many times and I still have no idea what kind of person she is or how she’s related to the whole situation. She completely lacks a personality and many times, her actions are completely unexplained and leave me quite confused. Fasman doesn’t give enough context about Hannah’s life for the reader to understand what she might be thinking at the time and instead of creating a mysterious air around her, it only gives the reader an impression of a badly created character.
The plot was very badly made. It took the reader in many unnecessary circles that dragged all possible suspense to the lowest. The death of Panda was gleaned over way too quickly and the only emotion that was ever put into it was Paul’s boss shedding just a few tears for the man. And then end of story. There was little explanation for any of the actions that Paul decides to take and the romance between Paul and Hannah is completely unnecessary. The little amount of suspense that was built up by plot just simply disperses with the horribly disappointing ending. Paul just gives up. How much worse can you get than that?
The Bottom Line:
Basically, a book with flat characters, a bad plot and a horrible ending. I would not recommend at all.
The following review was written following the rules for One Book One Review.