Synopsis from Goodreads:
Leo Gursky is trying to survive a little bit longer, tapping his radiator each evening to let his upstairs neighbor know he's still alive, drawing attention to himself at the milk counter of Starbucks. But life wasn't always like this: sixty years ago, in the Polish village where he was born, Leo fell in love and wrote a book. And although he doesn't know it, that book also survived: it crossed oceans and generations, and changed lives." Fourteen-year-old Alma was named after a character in that book. She has her hands full keeping track of her little brother Bird (who thinks he might be the Messiah) and taking copious notes in her book, How to Survive in the Wild Volume Three. But when a mysterious letter arrives in the mail she undertakes an adventure to find her namesake and save her family.
This one did not do it for me. There was something very odd and slightly forced about the writing, and she tried WAY too hard to make it interestlingly complex, when in reality Krauss just created a big jumbled mess of names and contrived coincidences.
I usually love novels that have many story lines going at the same time and that will at one point intertwine and bring a beautiful resolution in a seamless manner that will leave you nodding your head in satisfaction, but only when they are done correctly. Ms. Krauss, I felt, did not accomplish this. It seems like she bit off more than she could chew, to use a cliche, and it left her gagging in a corner.
I hated the main character, Leo Gursky. He was not someone I could relate to at all nor comprehend, which is a bit of a problem when he is the one we should really care about even if you don't agree with everything he does.
The excerpts from the ficticious book that Leo writes are quite bad. They are what I call "precious" writing, where you're trying to be deeper and gooyer than you really are. It is, again, very forced. Most of the time I was sitting holding the book in one hand and making the age-old blah-blah-blah gesture with the other. Too many words, Krauss, there's just too many.
And then the finale, seriously, that was...lord, that was bad. What is it with these authors who have to rush and finish the novel in probably half an afternoon?
To give her some credit, she'd lost me in the land of boredom so long before the last few pages that whatever she'd written, even if it was a fantastic end, would have been drivel to me.
All in all, not a good one. I know there's probably a lot of people who will tell you otherwise, but in my humble opinion, don't waste the eyesight on these pages.
2 (because it is not as bad as Dracula the Undead) out of 5 Stars