Review: The Absolute Book by Elizabeth Knox

Title: The Absoloute Book

Author: Elizabeth Knox

Genre: Fantasy

In short: “mind-blowing”

No spoilers

I felt as if I was climbing a very steep mountain while I was reading The Absolute Book. The summit seemed constantly out of reach. Sometimes it felt as though it was further away than it had when I started the climb. There were points where I simply ad to stop and take a breath. More than once I felt like I should turn back. But with a lot of persistence, I made it to the end. I was left feeling exhausted. I also had a giant headache. I actually spent some time looking at others reviews of this book to see if they felt the same way. I found I was not alone in feeling like this book required a lot of effort to digest.

Sure, some of the reviews touted its praises. I myself requested it as I thought it sounded intriguing. Laini Taylor is quoted on the back of the book as saying she found the it ‘mind-blowing’. Before I read it, this sounded like praise to me. Now it kind of sounds a little bit like a joke. The book was literally mind-blowing. In fact I can think of no better way to describe it.

Mind-blowing how the book seems to start out a a murder mystery. Then a thriller. Then a fantasy. Indeed, the book felt was a little bit mind-blowing mess. The entire time I was reading it I felt like there was something I just didn’t get.

Knox interweaves legends and myth throughout the novel. There are Sidhe. Heaven. Hell. Gates. She even manages to pop in some Norse inspiration in the form of Odin and his two ravens. There is also a bunch of talking about something called ‘the firestarter’. Even after having finished this book it’s near impossible to summarize the actual plot. The scenes are strange and disjointed. Nothing seems at all connected. There is a lot of dialogue. There are a lot of characters which I just didn’t care about.

The most interesting thing about this book was the main characters obsession with destroyed book collections. The author clearly did some research about this subject. In fact, if this book has just been about that and about a book that was lost in that way it might have made for a decent story. Readers love reading about books, after all. It’s why I picked this book up in the first place. Unfortunately the research into the subject does nothing to redeem the book.

The characters are devoid of character. The settings don’t have as much of an impact as they should. We go into this fantasy land and – well nothing. The pacing of the book was also way off. There is a scene on a beach which should have been really intense but it was so long that reading it became a chore.

Thanks to Penguin for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for review.

I’m rating The Absolute Book 1/5 stars.

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