For the most part I don’t like giving bad reviews. Sure there are books that deserve it, books that are all the craze and might’ve been written by a middle schooler (Fifty Shades…, I’m looking at you). But then there are books that are “written well” but lack any semblance of plot, character development, conflict, setting, joy, pain, life. I hate to group this sort of book with those I previously mentioned, but the truth is, this “well written book” is as difficult to read as the one that should be packing material.
The Pesthouse lacks everything a novel needs with the exception of well-orchestrated sentences. The story, what little bit of it there is, is told in the most clinical fashion; it was more like reading a psychologist’s report of the incidents than reading a novel. The characters were drab and unbelievable—they wouldn’t survive a day in this post-apocalyptic world. The dialogue was painful—why has the “end of the world” reverted the speech of people to Pioneer-speak? In short, I recognize that Jim Crace can write a sentence, but that doesn’t keep The Pesthouse from being extremely boring.
The best thing about this book is the cover of the hardback edition. I love this cover. Love it. It’s simple, but so elegant. The texture of the cover is unique, a very dull, old-fashioned paper with raised glossy print. The typeface is clear, demanding but not overpowering. The black and white imagery stands out in its simplicity. It is a wonderful book to hold and to gaze at; unfortunately, I wish I would’ve left it on my shelf unread, because despite its beauty, I now know of the great dissatisfaction that resides between its handsome covers.
Beautiful Cover + Intriguing Synopsis ≠ Guaranteed Enjoyable Read