Friday, May 14, 2010

Atonement by Ian McEwan

M: Done with first book! The project has now officially begun, yay!! :D

I liked this book, at times I managed to get really sucked into it and really wanted to know what's going to happen next. But... (there's always a but, right?!) I absolutely hated the ending! I don't want to spoil the ending and tell too much so I'll just say that the "first ending" was weak and weird and the "second ending" just sucked big time and I felt really betrayed and sad. (You'll know what I mean with the first and second after reading it.)

I don't know if it's because the writer is male but in my opinion the best part of the book was the second part that was written from a male perspective. I'm not a big fan of wartime descriptions but to me this part of the book was the best, the story flowed nicely. I found the first part of the book somewhat annoying due to the constant change of the storyteller, you had to read through three or four descriptions of the same events before you got to know what happened next. I'm not saying this is necessarily a bad thing (it was actually quite interesting to see all the sides and I appreciated the writer for doing this), but I just want to know what happens next!! :D I've noticed that in order for me to really get into a book and read on the edge of my seat the story has to be moving forward and preferably with a good pace.

What else...the characters. I really wanted to hate Briony after reading the back cover. For some reason I couldn't hate her (probably due to the writer describing everything from everyone’s point of view). Until the last part of the book. After reading the ending I finally managed to hate her. What an annoying, know-it-all, cowardly brat! While I was reading the book I actually was rather sympathetic towards her. The characters I didn't like were Emily and Lola. Somehow I just felt that if Emily would've been more there all the drama could've been avoided (although then there wouldnt've been much point in this book... :D). And poor Lola, I just can't stomach all the dishonesty. I've always felt really strongly when it comes to children so I found it extremely wrong that the real crime and the real criminal didn't get punished (I'm not saying who it is, although I guessed already in the very beginning what was going to happen and I
didn't buy Lola's story about the twins for a second).

So, what can I say, I liked it but I didn't love it. I might read this one again though, at least it provoked emotions and that's always important.


ii: Good points, hun.

I found the start a bit frustrating, as well. There was like, what?, over hundred pages before we even managed to cover the blurb at the back of the book! And the constant comments like "this decision would change his life forever" about Robbie setting out to look for the twins on his own, and the blatant hooks all the way through, that was annoying. I felt like yelling "yes, something big is going to happen, now can we please get on to it?!?"

As for Briony, I did like her most of the time (also for me, the very ending was the problem). The multiple points of view helped to understand her, and where she made the mistake. Also, the self-exclusion of Emily served a point. Throughout their childhood, Cecily had been the mother-figure for Briony, waking her up from nightmares and stuff. So it made sense that Briony felt overly protective of Cecily. Which then led to overreacting.

As for Lola... I had trouble at first to understand her decision to marry Marshall, but I guess it makes sense.

The ending. Oh, the ending. What a let-down. Realistic, but still. Briony compares herself as a novelist to God, in that she gets to decide what happens to people. And I guess she tried, she reunited Cecily and Robbie in the end. But was that atonement? I guess while the "second ending" took me by surprise, in hindsight it was there all along. The foreshadowing of the air attacks on London, the destruction of the tube station... It was there, just like in the beginning, only way more subtle. So when old Briony spelled it out, it shouldn't have been a surprise.


M: It looks like on this one we're agreeing on everything :D

I know!! The endless hints about Brionys "crime", I would like to take the book and count how many times the writer talked about "the crime that'll soon happen" and "the crime that changed everything" and "the crime that is really soon going to happen" and "the for god sake could now please just let her make her mistake cause we all read about it on the back cover already, it's not a secret"!!! So yes, I might've been just a tiny bit frustrated with the beginning... I think it might've made even more interesting book to write about Lola and Marshall, because whereas Briony's and Cecilia's decisions are quite easy to understand, I think it would've been interesting to read about Lola's thoughts and the reasoning that led her down the aisle with Marshall.

Yep, you're definitely right about this whole atonement-business. What kind of an atonement was that?? She didn't DO anything, she just imagined some shit and considered that as some kind of an absolution?? And the whole writing stuff, why was the publishing of the book such a big deal, like who cares? i just thought it was totally redundant.

Maybe we should watch the movie and see if it's better of worse than the book?

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