Wednesday, May 16, 2018

[Book Review] Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

Book Review of Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid is a book that I heard so many wonderful things about. When my work book club picked it as our next read, I snagged a copy at my local bookshop, Bookery.

Unfortunately, this was a major miss for me...

Let's dive in!

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid


Synopsis: 
In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors—doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through. 

Exit West follows these characters as they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, struggling to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are. Profoundly intimate and powerfully inventive, it tells an unforgettable story of love, loyalty, and courage that is both completely of our time and for all time.



Let's start with something positive:
This book cover is so beautiful! My photo above just doesn't do it justice.

I love the color scheme and the fonts that were chosen. The gradient of background color works so well with the light blue font laid on top. I also love that it appears that the title and authors name would continue on off the page in a repeated pattern if it hadn’t been cut to size. And lastly, the little bits of sparkle just make it that much more stunning!

Bravo, Marysarah Quinn!

Unfortunately, the cover is the only thing I liked about this book...


Beware, all of the negatives:
UGH, this book had so much potential! But in my opinion, it fell incredibly flat.

First of all, I didn’t like the way this book was written at all. There were so many run on sentences. SO. MANY. The sentence structure was also very difficult to follow and I found myself reworking the text for better flow in my head, which really slowed down my reading.

I also didn’t really care for the way that this storyline was organized. It seemed very scattered and distracted; like this wasn't a final draft and that bits of the story were missing or out of place.

How much this book jumped around kept throwing me for a loop. There were many times that I had to restart the section to see if I had missed something. When I realized we had jumped to a random new character, I was left thinking, “Why should I care about that scene?” I kept hoping that everything would tie together soon. On a couple of occasions, it did. But for the vast majority, it did not. At least not clearly. Which left me again feeling like this was a rough draft.

The very first scene where a strange jump happened that I actually thought flowed pretty well in regard to the story and added more depth rather than seeming random was on page 109. However, this whole scene was one quick transition sentence followed by ONE MASSIVE sentence the spread over three pages... Why?

Then of course there were the characters. I really wanted to pull for the main characters, Nadia and Saeed, but I just didn't find them interesting at all. Reading about their relationship wasn't heartwarming to me, it was dull. I did appreciate the fact that the two fell in love during time of unrest, and that there was always a level of respect in their relationship, no matter what stage they were in. But the rest was just so dry and a bit tedious. I wanted to learn a little bit more about them and each of their personalities. But as they were portrayed, they just felt so one-dimensional.

The storyline itself just didn't hold my interest. I was quite bored when the two main characters met and started courting one another. Things got a little tense with the violence that was occurring, and to be honest, I had kind of been hoping that it would get a little grittier.

But then suddenly there is mention of doors that can take you to another place. I started feeling hopeful that this was where the story would take a turn and hook me! Well, it certainly took a turn, but not in a good way. The storyline after the doors made their appearance was even more boring to me.

I hate to be so negative... But when I find a book that I truly do not like, it's pretty rare! And of course I have to be honest.


My favorite passages: 
War would soon erode the facade of their building as though it had accelerated time itself, the day’s toll outpacing that of a decade.

She learned how to dress for self-protection, how to best deal with aggressive men and with the police, and with aggressive men who were the police, and always to trust her instincts about situations to avoid or to exit immediately.

One’s relationship to windows now changed in the city. A window was the border through which death was possibly most likely to come.

The agent spoke softly, almost sweetly, his whisper bringing to mind that of a poet or a psychopath.

Once they met an acquaintance of Saeed’s and this seemed an almost impossible and happy coincidence, like two leaves blown from the same tree by a hurricane landing on top of each other far away, and it cheered Saeed greatly.


My final thoughts:
Definitely just not a book for me. I had no interest in picking it up once I had set it down. While reading I really struggled to stay engaged with the story both because of the writing style and the overall plot.

If this wasn't a book club pick, I would have DNFed in the first chapter. I honestly just couldn't recommend this one. Though I am looking forward to hearing what my book club as to say about it!

This doesn't happen much on my blog, but here it is; one teacup.


Thanks for reading!
Have you read this book? If so, I'd love to hear your thoughts!
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22 comments:

  1. Sorry this was such a miss for you! This probably isn't a book I would pick up anyway, but if I had, the writing style and story layout probably would have bugged me just as much and I would have DNFed.

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    1. Yeah... Considering how similar our reading preferences are I definitely wouldn't recommend it to you. But if you ever do pick it up, I would love to hear your thoughts! :)

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  2. Darn, I have this one on my TBR list. The synopsis sounds so good! I have seen a lot of mixed reviews, so I guess it’s a polarizing book. Great review!

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

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    1. I hope you have better luck! I'd love to hear what you think!

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  3. I tend to avoid booker prize winners. Most of them are non-linear and thus difficult to follow. Guess even the nominated ones follow the same pattern. Glad to hear such a bold opinion about a famous novel.

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  4. This one was getting so many rave reviews. I’m glad I didn’t bother. I can’t handle boring. Kudos for finishing it.

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  5. I have not read this one, but it never interested me. I'm sorry it was such a slow, confusing book for you though! So many run-on sentences sounds AWFUL.

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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    1. Yeah.. it really wasn't fun for me :( Thanks for stopping by!

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  6. Oh no that’s a shame when you read a book you don’t click with. It took me 4 months to read Dracula as Van Helsing drove me insane lol

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    1. Oh no! haha I hate when that happens as well.

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  7. Such a good review and I'm sorry that it didn't work for you. That being said, you saved me from reading it so thank you!

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    1. Yeah, fingers crossed my next read is better! :) And haha you're welcome!

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  8. Amazing review, Erica. This is my first time on your blog and loved your review very much. I'm sorry this one didn't work out for you. I can't believe there was a massive sentence that spread over three pages like that. That's just wow! English isn't my second language and I'm not an exper on grammar and make mistakes myself, but goddess that's insane. I hope you have a wonderful day and happy ready.💋

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    1. Thank you so much for stopping by!! :)

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  9. The run on sentences might be distracting.

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    1. Definitely, it was so frustrating for me :(

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  10. Hahaha, I love your review. Sometimes it's just necessary to enumerate all the things we didn't like about a book. So cathartic.

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    1. Thank you :) and yes, I agree!! I'll be talking about this one at my work book club tomorrow. I can't wait to see what everyone else thought!

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  11. Yikes. How disappointing. It does have an interesting premise with the doors, but the fact that this couldn't even save the story, leads me to believe that the author did a poor job of execution. I was wondering why you didn't DNF, but then you mentioned it was a book club pick. Don't you hate those books you aren't enjoying, but you have to get through for one reason or another? You can't wait for it to be over fast enough.

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    1. Yeah... It was just a mess for me. I should have just DNFed and skipped this month's book club!

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