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419 (2012)

419 (2012)

Book Info

3.59 of 5 Votes: 4
Your rating
0670064718 (ISBN13: 9780670064717)
Viking Canada

About book 419 (2012)

3.5 stars, I think. Many strengths, but some significant weaknesses for me. The plot stands out--moving relentlessly forward, giving hints of what is to come but never taking the most obvious path, interweaving the stories of four protagonists, three from Africa, one from Canada. However, I found the balancing of the plots very uneven. The separate stories start off fairly balanced, but one story dominated the middle third so much that I kept getting thrown out of the story, thinking, "But what's happening to the other characters?" Each time a new section started, I would expect to return to one of the other plots, and was disappointed to still be in the same one.The characters were interesting and engaging, yet they seemed to have depth and complexities that were barely explored. They didn't feel shallow, but rather overshadowed by descriptions of setting, history, politics and culture. I often felt that Ferguson was driven to cram as much of his thorough research as possible into the Nigerian characters and plot.The end (and this isn't a spoiler) is well crafted and consistent with the spirit of the book.A map of the places in Africa would have been nice, too. I rarely agree with the Giller jury's choice and this book is a prime example of why. Its a solid effort, but it is not the best novel of the year. Giller juries seem to be enraptured by "expressionist" writing - short, grammatically incorrect sentences meant to convey a mood or feeling without expressly stating anything. Ferguson adopts this style throughout the text, and it is as affected and pretentious here as it is in other Giller winners. What is odder is that Ferguson mixes his "sound poems" with very protracted prose that (over)describe a setting. He is particularly guilty of this for the sections set in Africa. He seems to suffer from the same disease as Donna Tartt - a lack of trust for his readers. It would appear Ferguson did some research to paint his African portraits and he seems hell-bent on showing us every bit of it. I began scanning whole chapters early - just read the opening sentence of each paragraph and you will get the gist of what is happening. Actually, little is "happening", so there is not much lost. The part that works best is the section written around the Curtis family in Canada. Those sections are what make the book a "thriller". I am not sure the book is as compulsively page-turning as the reviewers declare it to be - I normally read a book in a day and it took me a few to get through this one, even with all the skimming, but there are interesting ideas here. While it is not hard to see how the pieces are going to come together, I applaud Ferguson's choice to avoid a true Hollywood ending. I would happily try Ferguson's other works, to see how this book compares.

Do You like book 419 (2012)?

Kept me interested through out and an unexpected ending....I would recommend this book.

Slow start. Struggled to keep reading it. Mildly surprised in the end.

Set in Nigeria. Lots of different strands and interesting characters.

a very good book . I disliked the ending though

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