The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro
Or, Why am I reviewing my first DNF of this year!?
Ugh. What is there to say about this novel but, ugh. This novel was touted to be the perfect book for Game of Thrones fans. It was written by an author that everyone sold to me as genius. This novel had it all: adventure, love, dragons, and knights in shining armor. Sadly, it didn’t seem to meet any of my expectations. The novel is The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro.
This may be a short review because, really, I didn’t really even reach the 50% point. I’m writing this review because, sadly, this novel hit a few of my unforgiveable writing pet peeves. So let’s get started. Ugh.
A lot of my problem with this novel stems from the writing. Friends have said that this author is amazing, and I can certainly see that. When reading this novel, you can see the skill and talent that this author has. I just don’t think this writing style works for this type of genre or story. Ishiguro has a very dry, monotone writing voice (we’ll call it that). For an adventure of epic and fantastical proportions, one does not want a dry and monotone voice. It just simply did not draw one into the story and catapult them into the adventure along with the main characters. Instead, it felt like you were slowly being dragged against your will by rope.
Along with the style of writing, Ishiguro plays with timeline, but sadly leaves the reader confused as to the many shifts from past to present and vice versa. When doing this sort of timeline, it’s kind of important to illustrate clearly that timeframes are shifting in order to avoid confusion. This novel shifts between paragraphs, between sentences. At one point, I suddenly began reading about a character I had never met, who just happened to pop onto the page. I’m still not sure if it was a flashback or not. I have no clue who that character was or his importance to the story. He was just suddenly there, in the middle of a paragraph. The novel also plays greatly with memories, but after reading pages of how the characters could not remember anything, and yet would still argue over who remembered a certain event correctly, I just got bored. Why are we arguing for pages about something that neither of you can remember!? Let’s move on, with, I don’t know, the story!?
I made it pretty far despite my above complaints, but sadly Ishiguro completely lost me when he managed to do my number 1 pet peeve in novels: the build up to nothing. I’m sure people have seen this. It happens quite a bit in classics (which is probably why I have such issues when reading classics). Let’s build up a scene (usually a very exciting scene), like a critical and violent fight between two knights, building up the tension, keeping the reader on the edge of their seats, biting their nails, expecting an epically violent battle, of clashing swords, sweating brows and grunting knights … only to have it end pitifully and in one or two sentences. (See what I did there? 😉 ). Apparently this happened a lot, but I only made it far enough to see it happen once; and I counted the pages. Six pages of build up, and the fight ended in maybe two sentences. I actually had to read those two sentence twice, because I thought, no, this can’t be over! I must have read that wrong! I didn’t. I wanted to throw the book at the wall.
I think my feelings are pretty clearly illustrated in this review. I sadly didn’t enjoy The Buried Giant. I wanted to. I was excited about it, but sadly there were no amount of medieval literary references that could have saved this novel in my eyes. Not even Sir Gawain did it (and I LOVE Sir Gawain and the Green Knight). It will take some convincing to make me try and read another Ishiguro novel. Just, ugh.