Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Shadow of the Wind

The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Until fairly recently I had never heard of Carlos Ruiz Zafón, and suddenly he was all over my blog reader.  Two or three book bloggers posted about him at once, and I thought I'd try out the book that people were talking about.  One blogger can't stand him and I wish I could remember who it was because now I want to ask why, so if you know, tell me!

I read The Shadow of the Wind, which is the first of three books that center on the Cemetery of Forgotten Books--a giant secret repository for books, guarded by a keeper.  Once you select a book from the Cemetery, you become that book's guardian for life.

Daniel is ten years old when his father takes him to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books.  He chooses The Shadow of the Wind, a novel by an obscure writer named Julian Carax.  Daniel learns that his is apparently the last copy in existence, since a mysterious person has been systematically seeking out and burning Carax's books for years.  As Daniel grows up and tries to learn more about Carax and his books, he finds a tangle of secrets, lies, and enmity.  It's all very Gothic.

I really enjoyed the writing and the complex story.  Especially the writing--even though it sometimes got a little labored.  As far as the story is concerned, there are only about ten or fifteen people in Barcelona, and they all know each other.  The shocking secret was kind of underwhelming, to be honest.  There was more sex than I like, and all the women seemed to be either incredibly beautiful or old and hideous (maybe because the narrator was a teenage boy?).  And by the end, everyone's lives were so relentlessly, unremittingly tragic that it got a little ridiculous, so it was nice to see a sort of happy ending.   OK, all that sounds like I didn't like it, but I did!

5 comments:

o said...

Is it me you're thinking of? I said it was the worst book I had ever read :)

Sorry, by the way. Hate it when I hate books people like, makes me feel mean. I'm not trying to be mean!

Jean said...

No apology necessary! I just wondered what exactly made it the worst book you've ever read. I would certainly never be hurt that somebody didn't like the book, especially since I had kind of mixed feelings about it myself. No book is ever going to be loved by everyone.

I did learn from the book not to move to Barcelona unless I want to be very very unhappy. :)

nrlymrtl said...

I also recently read this book - I did the audio version which was great for the variety of insults floating around in this book. Both my man and I had a lot of fun with it, despite it's shortcomings. I am glad to hear there are 2 more centered around the cemetery of books.

Amy said...

Well, since you ask... :)

I started this book a couple of years ago but didn't finish it. I really wanted to like it, because it's about books, and it's so gothic. But I was really turned off by the, as you so perceptively put it, "teenage boy-ness" of the tone, the excess of sex and the female characters' being simply sexual fantasy figures.

I didn't enjoy the writing enough to make up for that, unfortunately.

Jean said...

I certainly understand your feelings; I'm a bit mixed about it myself, especially Penelope's eventual fate (so be glad you didn't get that far). Happily it was fiction, and I didn't take it very seriously. Thanks for telling me!