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Lit Lovers Lane

Inveterate, incurable readaholic, who blogs about books and what's in 'em. If readaholism is a deadly disease, no problem. Couldn't imagine a better way to go.

Adverbs: A Novel

Adverbs - Daniel Handler Having had good experiences with Amazon recommendations, I put this book on my Christmas wishlist, and Santa Claus (my husband) duly delivered. I really liked the idea of the author's using adverbs to describe experiences of love, so please bear with me as I follow suit in my review.

Excitedly, I cracked open this book and began to read. I saw the chapters were titled with adverbs (like obviously, briefly, naturally, wrongly, etc.), and thought how wonderfully ingenious this was. Nevertheless, as I read, I found myself increasingly confused, unable to make heads or tails of the story. With each chapter, the story seemed to change characters (some of whom were unnamed), and the story itself, with chapters disconcertingly unconnected and disjointed.

After 50 pages of understanding nothing and worriedly wondering if I was suddenly suffering from early onset dementia, I quickly fired up my computer and headed to Goodreads, frantically needing to see if I was the only one with this impression. While the overwhelming majority like this book, I rejoicingly saw others who were as disenchanted and confused as I.

One reader suggested mapping out all the characters to keep them straight, while another insisted keeping track of the characters missed the point, because the focus is on the love experiences, not the people. Still, I decided to start the book over, meticulously jotting down characters and desperately hoping the book would then make some sense.

From one chapter to the next, I went, and the strategy helped somewhat with characters, but still the stories were so disconnected and the character changes so chaotic, I fail to see how anyone can remotely term this a novel. Simply put, the chapters do not follow each other in characters, time, or story, but are rather more like standalone vignettes or short stories, which was certainly not what I was wishing for in a novel.

As for the characters, though the same characters come and go in the chapters, I really couldn't get much of a handle on any of them. One character could have different names, and I never felt sure of my grasp of any. But more than that, I could not have cared less about any of the characters' love experiences because I didn't know them intimately, and what I did know of them didn't make me care about them in the least.

As to the stories in each chapter, I found them either uninteresting, silly, outlandish, or all three. Between an old woman called the Snow Queen who used to be an actress and her freezing people in their tracks to a man walking onto someone's property, having sex with the male house sitter and then coming back the next day with his girlfriend (just to name two scenarios), I was constantly alternating among being baffled, bored, or angry. Every chapter left me hanging in the unknown, and just when I thought another chapter might pick up the threads, I was never certain either because the names changed or the past was only alluded to subtly.

So many times, I sorely ached to end my misery while reading, but I diligently persevered, praying the story would somehow miraculously redeem itself and make my time worthwhile. When I reached page 234 of 272, I sadly realized that wasn't possible. Nothing could salvage this for me. And I was correct.

For anyone who loved this book, I am supremely happy for you. Really and truly. Nonetheless, on the back cover, the author and publisher wish that Adverbs be of interest to readers. For me, it was so totally not, I cannot almost not fathom it.