Review- Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I finally finished it! What (you may ask) took me so long? Well. It's not that the book was dull, exactly, but neither was it riveting, and I picked it up at a time when I had too many other things vying for my attention.
I mentioned before that the only reason I picked up Prodigal Summer was because I had been told that I MUST read The Poisonwood Bible. But when I stopped by my local library, this was the only Kingsolver book on the shelf.
...To be honest, I hope that The Poisonwood Bible is not as pretentious as this was.
So. let's sum it up:

The Good-
Now, I've got to admit that the writing was lovely. Kingsolver has a way with words, that much is apparent. The writing is really what redeemed the book in my eyes. I will also admit that I thought many of her ideas about man's impact on nature were interesting (though, at times, inaccurate) and I was glad to see how the seemingly unconnected storylines converged in the end. The story was really just one intricate web built of the characters' lives.

The Bad -
It seemed that every character in the book had a soapbox that they were standing on. They all wanted to preach at you about one thing or another. Kingsolver obviously has a very 'green' agenda that she's trying to push with this book, and I found her delivery a bit annoying. I'm all for exploring serious issues through fiction, but you don't have to do it by hitting me over the head with a hammer again and again and again. Yes! We understand what you're trying to say! Pesticide bad! Hunters bad! logging bad! Enough already.
My other problem was that the only openly religious character in the book was a flat, stereotypical boor. It felt as if his only purpose in the story was to show the arrogance and self-righteousness of Christians. He couldn't ever seem to formulate a coherent argument. Actually, neither could any of the other 'antagonists' in the book, now that I think about it.

The Ugly -
There was one really weird sex dream. There was also a ridiculously awkward bit where a recently widowed woman admits that she's attracted to her 17 year old nephew. Um. Ewww. There was actually quite a lot of frank discussion about sex in the book, so definitely don't pick it up if that sort of thing bothers you.

My Rating -
Eh. This is a hard one, because the writing really was lovely, but I didn't care much for the book overall. Overall I'd give it 6/10 but I think that Kingsolver's prose deserves closer to an 8/10
Not the dialogue, mind you, just the descriptions.


melissa @ 1lbr said...

Hmm...haven't read any Kingsolver myself, but now I'll be skipping this one. Looking forward to hearing what you think of Poisonwood Bible.

Mari said...

You can't compare this book to The Poisonwood Bible. I loved the Poisonwood Bible.

If you don't like the book at page 100 - just close it and move on. You will learn about life in Africa as you read. I have a minor in Arfican Studies and can tell you it reads well.

It's one of my all time favorites. I have not enjoyed many of her other titles and have walked away from a few.