Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Attachments Review

I seem to have hit a bit of a speed bump on my Rainbow Rowell track with Attachments.  I know that Rowell writes sweet stories, but Attachments wound up being a little too saccharine for my tastes.  There was a small vein of tragedy in Eleanor & Park, and a small edge of weirdness to Fangirl.  Attachments, however, was all 90's rom-com.

However, I must say that Rowell is perfectly aware of thisAttachments is littered with romantic comedy references:
Beth was funny. She was smart. She was interesting. And she had the sort of job that made someone more interesting. The sort of job a woman would have in a movie, a romantic comedy starring John Cusack.
Spot on.

Attachments follows a 28 year-old boy-man, Lincoln, and he's a bit of an anti-hero. He spent seven years in college and now lives with his mother, feeling utterly stalled and clueless about what he wants to do with his life.  What keeps him from being an outright tragedy is the fact that he has a job — he's an IT guy who works the swing shift at a newspaper.  This newspaper has recently installed the internet into their offices, and management hires Lincoln to monitor the staff's usage of the web, to make sure that everything stays clean and efficient. Lincoln hates the job, but becomes fascinated by the conversations between two women who work at the paper.  Eventually, he finds himself falling a bit in love with one of the women — Beth.  Things escalate when, through Beth's e-mails, he realizes that she's noticed him around the office and has developed a crush.  Romantic crisis ensues.

This book took a long time to get going.  It definitely did not hit the ground running. An over-large portion of the book was devoted to exposition. Moreover, the writing was not as focused and concise as Rowell's later works. (Attachments is her first novel.)  This and the slightly cliched romantic-comedy arc are my main complaints with the book.  There are more minor quibbles as well.  I thought that Rowell's characterizations were not as strong as what we've seen in her later works.  I did not feel as sharply invested in the storyline as I was with Eleanor & Park and Fangirl.

Fortunately, having already read Rowell's second and third books, I know that she's improved her pacing, editing, and characterization.  Can she keep going up?  I'm hugely curious to see what's in store for Landline, Rowell's most current novel.

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