This is one of the hardest books I have had to review. For example, do I review it as a book in it's sole right, or do I review it as a book which is the much anticipated next novel from the writer of 'The Time Traveller's Wife' (TTTW for reference) - one of the greatest books I have ever read?
I think really I have to review it how I read it - the next book from the great author of TTTW.
So let me start - "what an utter disappointment". That is my initial feeling, the book lacks direction, lacks any synonymous feelings towards it's characters, it lacks characters, it lacks magic, it lacks the 'draw appeal' (where you get drawn in and end up page turning and missing your stop oin the train!). All the things that TTTW excelled in this book well and truely lacks.
But what a hard task to have been set. You've written possibly one of the greatest books (certainly where originality, creativity and a sense of 'coming together' is concerned) of all time. Now you have to follow it up. So what should you do? Well Niffenegger decided to hide herself away in a cemetry in London for a couple of years for inspiration.....well the inspiration one would only get from a cemetry is more than clear in the style of this writing - dead.
The book starts very well, and Niffenegger's skills as an Author are very apparent throughout, despite the plot not being great, it is beautifully written! However you soon get into a far-fetched story which seems like it keeps wanting to change direction but doesn't have any conclusion (the end as it is stands as clear proof of this). You almost can feel niffenegger working hard and scratching her brain for that one inspirational moment that will lift this book into the ethos that was TTTW.
It fails to reach this and unlike when you finish TTTW, where you get a sense of completion and admiration for an author who had obviously plotted this from the very first few drops off ink on her page; in Her Fearful Symmetry, you are simply met with part disappointment, but mostly part relief - that she managed to find an end at all.
In summary - parts of this book are interesting, somer are far from it (like the tour of the graveyard - yes we know you used to work there, but if we wanted a tour we'd visit), parts are very unbvelievable, parts are disgustingly unbvelievable and parts are simply just passable. You read them, but then it is gone, forgotten out of your mind.
I'm glad I read it, had I not read TTTW maybe I would rate it slightly higher, but it kept me reading, an author of Niffenegger's talent always will, but it is a long way of from TTTW and strangely I am glad. Because it stands alone as still a one of masterpiece.
Her Fearful Symmetry stands among many others - it's just another novel.