Normal People by Sally Rooney

Normal PeopleNormal People by Sally Rooney
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Yawn. I wanted this to be so much better than it was.

The storytelling is all over the place. I’m sure some people feel that is a unique style, but it just feels poorly constructed to me, like a really rough draft. Transitions between scenes and moments in time are not always smooth, if they even exist at all, which isn’t often.

The characters are not particularly likable (no complaints there, just noting it as a point of interest), can’t successfully communicate (and fail to show any growth or development in this area), and do a lot of useless waffling. For years on end. Waffle, waffle, waffle. Waffle. Waffle, waffle.

Not much else really happens, and you never really get much good, full, or in-depth insight into the random shit they think and do. Sure, they slip in some backstory here and there, or a really brief explanation for something, but it feels thrown in like afterthoughts.

There’s not much of a feeling of honesty or authenticity in this, which is probably what bothers me the most, because I could read a random, plotless, directionless story, if the characters were compelling or the moments were real and authentic. They aren’t.

There’s about a million significant others between the two, most of them who are 2D at best and poorly developed, serve little point in the storytelling other than being obstacles, and have vague and nondescript names and personalities that don’t make much of an impression. In light of that, they simple feel like predetermined hurdles that we are forced to leap over to get to the finish line, when really, it would have been more fun to run around them, kick them over, crawl under them, or literally do anything other than the same prescribe cycle over and over again.

Now, that all being said, there are some things I like here about the writing, and there were moments where I was all in and thought this book had potential, only to then be swiftly corrected. The fantastic moments are just too few and far between, and everything else is trite and endless dialogue that fails to move the story forward. Ad nauseam.

If all that wasn’t enough, then you get to the end, which is complete shit. Sudden. Abrupt. Shows absolutely zero growth in ability to communicate, work together, or understand each other. It was quite possibly the most useless and dissatisfying end to a story ever, so if you kept on reading hoping this novel was finally going to get there or have some sort of really meaningful point, rest assured, it’s not and it’s doesn’t.

This is the full range of emotions I felt while reading this book: hopeful, annoyed, frustrated, bored, impatient, bored, annoyed, bored, aggravated, asleep. Oops, the last one isn’t an emotion, but I would have definitely enjoyed a nap more than this.

I’m going to try out the TV show next, since someone told me I should watch it. I’m hoping they can correct a lot of the issues with the writing and storytelling, in order to give the story more depth and emotional resonance. Fingers crossed.

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