Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Aberrations by Penelope Przekop (a review)

Aberrations by Penelope PrzekopAberrations by Penelope Przekop is the story of Angel Duet, a young woman who suffers from narcolepsy, a sleep disorder, and who has spent her entire life mourning her mother who died giving birth to her. As I read about Angel’s struggle to stay awake and uncover her family’s history, I struggled in turn to maintain an interest in this story. It’s not that the story itself isn’t interesting, but rather that the writing style just didn’t work for me. Angel’s voice is too odd, full of confusing and overly dramatic ramblings that seemed to have little bearing on the plot such as: “Unlike those perfect people like Carla whom I sometimes wished to disembowel, Christian had no bowels. While the others stored reality, proof of their imperfection, deep within carefully constructed fa├žades, he sported an empty compartment, clean and hollowed out” (p. 86). Plus the Southern dialect felt forced to me, an afterthought, as if peppering “ordinary” dialogue with “cain’ts” and “thangs” was enough to make it Southern—it distracted me rather than adding anything to the story. Since pretty much every single review I’ve seen of this book raves about it, I was disappointed when I realized I probably wouldn’t have finished reading Aberrations if it wasn’t for the fact that I was expected to review it. In the end, however, I’m glad I did, because I was able to better appreciate what Przekop was doing—how in fact some of her strange imagery fit together. I especially liked the multilayered meanings she attached to the cloud pictures taken by Angel’s mother. And there is no question that this book has the best book cover I’ve seen in a long time, both because it is beautiful in itself and because it works so well as a snapshot of this book.

I feel bad giving this book a bad review, in part because I’ve so enjoyed reading Penelope Przekop’s blog, Aberration Nation. However, what makes this blog one of my favourites is Przekop’s honesty and courage, so I can only hope she won’t fault me too much for being honest in this review.

Although this book wasn’t for me, lots of other people enjoyed it. For much more positive reviews of this book, head over to the following blogs:
BCF Book ReviewsBookish RuthKathleen’s Book ReviewsPop Culture JunkieRandom WonderThe Literate HousewifeTraci’s Book Bag

Przekop’s site also has a fascinating Q&A with the author. (Be warned, however, that the discussion contains some spoilers.)

Thank you to Mini Book Expo, Emerald Book Company and Planned Television Arts for sending me this book to review.


  1. I can definitely see how this book wouldn't be for everyone. I liked the story, but like you I had issues with the dialect thang.
    I think as long as you're not intentionally slamming an author, they can't fault you for honesty.

  2. Not every book is for everyone. Your review was still respectful, so there's nothing to worry about. I found you through Library Thing.

  3. Thanks for stopping at my blog and commenting! You have a great blog and I'm adding it to my blog list as well!!

    I think that your review was very honest and respectful. I like that you listed other reviews that had different viewpoints to make your review balanced. Since I just started my blog last month, I haven't had to write about a book yet that I didn't like. I will refer back to how diplomatic your review was here!!

  4. Well we can't all like everything :) I understand what you were saying about the southern twang. That was pretty much the only thing that bothered me about the story.

  5. I just connected that you wrote to me yesterday about Aberrations. I wondered why your name sounded familiar! I haven't had a chance to write back, I think I half read your post hehe. So I may be back to comment again! Thanks for linking to me though!

  6. Thanks everyone for your feedback—I really appreciate it, especially for this particular review. I find it hard to stand out from the crowd on a book as dramatically as I seem to be on this one!

  7. I often have problems with dialect, so I can see how that would be a turn off. I wouldn't feel bad about giving a book an unfavorable review; I appreciate your honesty.

    --Diary of an Eccentric

  8. That's cool though, that you can write a review and actually say, hey I didn't like it... it bothers me sometimes that reviews refuse to admit a book is bad, but instead give it praises, to make it seem not as bad as it is.

    Power to you, a good review.



  9. Thank you, Anna and The Dizzy. I'm hoping this book finds a better home (once I've figured out who wins it in my giveaway).