A writer never forgets the first time he accepted a few coins or a word of praise in exchange for a story. He will never forget the sweet poison of vanity in his blood, and the belief that, if he succeeds in not letting anyone discover his lack of talent, the dream of literature will provide him with a roof over his head, a hot meal at the end of the day, and what he covets the most: his name printed on a miserable piece of paper that surely will outlive him. A writer is condemned to remember that moment, because from then on he is doomed and his soul has a price. – from The Angel’s Game, page 1 –
When I read that first paragraph, I thought: “Oh, this is going to be good.” It had all the attributes of a hook…beautiful prose, a little (possible) foreshadowing, intrigue. So you can imagine my disappointment when more than 100 pages into Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s newest novel I laid it down realizing I would not finish it. I read Zafon’s first book A Shadow of the Wind (read my review) and loved it. I was so excited to snag an ARC of The Angel’s Game. I wanted to love it too. So what went wrong?
For starters, the main character David Martin is uninteresting. He is a blossoming writer living in 1920s Barcelona who becomes obsessed with his stories. I ultimately stopped caring what happened to him, and once that happened, the book was doomed for me since The Angel’s Game is David’s story.
But even more than my disinterest in the main character, I found myself disappointed with the writing. It is just so-so, and mostly overly dramatic when it doesn’t need to be. On top of that, Zafon makes a clumsy attempt to parallel his novel to that of Great Expectations (there is unrequited love, a mysterious benefactor, and multiple references to Dicken’s work). He also borrows liberally from the themes of his first novel…I found it rehashed and boring.
So despite my best efforts…reading well beyond the point I wanted to…The Angel’s Game lands in the pile of rare books which I was not able to finish. Since my opinion on a book is obviously not the only opinion out there, you might want to read other bloggers’ reviews:
Have you read and reviewed this book? If so, leave me a comment with your link and I’ll add you to this post.