Book Review: House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

Rating: 5/5

I can’t decide if I loved this book or hated this book. I don’t think I’ll ever have a reading experience like this again.

Book CWs

  • Character Death
  • Animal Death
  • Cheating
  • Sexually explicit scenes
  • Non-trivial reading (as in you’ll need to rotate the book and such to read certain spots)
  • I don’t know how to label this one but the introduction leads you to believe that reading this book will cause you to slowly lose your mind

Premise

Johnny Truant is a self-described unreliable narrator. When his friend Lude tells him about an apartment that has recently become available due to the death of its previous tenant, Zampanò, Johnny moves in.

In Zampanò’s apartment, Johnny discovers a long and developed manuscript that focuses on analyzing a film called The Navidson Record. In short, The Navidson Record is the story of a family who discovers their new house is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. Their lives take an unexpectedly dark turn when a door to a cold, dark, and ever-changing hallway suddenly appears in one of their rooms.

The problem Johnny finds with the manuscript is, not only does no such film exists, but those cited in the paper claim to know nothing about Zampanò nor The Navidson Record. Nevertheless, Johnny takes it upon himself to finish Zampanò’s work. He soon finds, however, that the more the writing calls to him, the more he loses his grip on reality.

The book is told via Zampanò’s writing with footnotes by Johnny that often provide the reader with insight into his life. Further footnotes are provided by unnamed editors.

Review (No Spoilers)

I don’t know what really to say about this book except that it is completely bonkers. I started reading this because I was intrigued by the unusual writing style. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, literally just google image House of Leaves and you’ll see pictures of some of the types of pages this book has. What I didn’t know what just how hard it was going to be to read this book.

What I mean by hard is, this book is daunting. It is filled with footnotes upon footnotes and at times will go on huge tangents about things that are seemingly unimportant (though I know they really aren’t). I had to stop more than once and read a different book in order to keep myself from being swallowed by this story.

My thing with this book is I have no idea if I loved it or hated it. There were times when I was super invested in it and then there were times when I was extremely bored. The reason I had to give this book 5 stars is because I absolutely cannot deny that it was amazingly written. I have no idea what type of person could make such a book but I am so utterly impressed. I can’t even begin to imagine how much work had to go into making this masterpiece.

That being said, I don’t think I’d really recommend this book to anyone I know. Like I said, it is very intimidating and I think a lot of people who start this book don’t actually end up finishing it. It’s very dense.

I do want to mention that in order to not spend my entire life reading this thing, I had to basically ignore the fact that its filled with hidden codes. My puzzle-loving brain would have become completely obsessed with discovering every hidden message and I knew that in order to finish, I would have to actively try to not look for them.

I have no idea if I’m going to read this book again. A part of me wants to go back and find every secret this text holds but a part of me wants to never open this thing again.

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Book Review: Pop Apocalypse by Lee Konstantinou

I recently started reading more frequently as a result of missing it and feeling guilty about not progressing in my Goodreads 2019 Book Challenge. I was suggested Pop Apocalypse by Lee Konstantinou.

Book CW/TW:

  •  There are I believe 2 date-rapey scenes. The main character is in fact introduced via one of them.
  • MC expresses sexual interest in a 16 year old girl, despite being 27/28 in the book.

Rating: 2/5 stars

I found this book incredibly boring for the first half. Once I got to the start of the main arc, I regained interested for a short while before losing it once again. There are certain instances of hilarity but as someone who prefers YA novels and stays away from political/religious news, this book wasn’t for me. 

Premise

The book takes place in the near future (around the year 2028). Several religious factions and powers exist throughout the world, some allied and some at odds. The world seems like it may be on the brink of a huge religious war. 

The story follows Eliot Vanderthorpe Jr., the 27 year old son of and heir to Omni Science, a corporation that from my understanding has created a sort of future capitalistic google where people can search footage from all over the world and purchase premium footage/photos for a price. Eliot is a major screw up party boy who left his family to go on a major drug binge, isolating himself from his friends and ex-girlfriend Sarah. 

After returning home and being put to work by his father, Eliot uses a super search in his father’s office and discovers that there is a man who looks exactly like him in California, in an area that regular Omni searches don’t pick up. He embarks on a search to discover who this person is and why he exists. All while trying to fix his negative reputation and relationship with those he cares about. 

Review (Mild Spoilers)

This was the first “adult book” that I’ve completed in a long time. I mostly enjoy reading YA novels because I don’t really look to books as intellectual exercise machines but rather as fun ways to pass the time. After reading this book I realized why I don’t like adult books. 

First of all, I felt like over half the time I had no idea what was going on. Even after finishing the book I didn’t have a complete picture of what the state of the world was and what exactly what going on with the waring religions. This was partly because my vocabulary isn’t as big as this book needed it to be, especially with it’s religious undertones, but also because I found myself getting bored when reading and skimmed certain passages. 

Something that I complained about in the first half of the book was the fact that I felt as though most of the things being said to me as a reader weren’t actually important to the story. There were many “weird” scenes mentioned in the book that were in fact very entertaining but also not vital to the story. So when I got to scenes or paragraphs of text that weren’t entertaining in their weirdness, I got annoyed at being forced to read things that I didn’t actually care about. 

I finished the book and had NO idea how I was supposed to feel. Though it might have been a result of me basically hating the protagonist the entire time.