Thursday, January 07, 2010

Okay, I finished it.

I reached the end of Almost Like Being in Love. (And for crap's sake, don't read this if you hate spoilers. I'm not a reviewer.)

When Kluger writes poignant, he writes poignant so damned well, with a sweetness that's almost rarified. I teared up over this or that phrase, teared up over this or that scene, ached for Travis, ached for Craig . . . then wanted to kick them both in the ass by letting my foot connect with the book.

Why? Because there was so much piddling around at the end of the story, such bizarre, herky-jerk pacing, so many scene shifts and switches of perspective, so many incomprehensible reactions and decisions and changes of heart, that the poignancy kept being diluted or completely neutralized. I had no bloody idea who would end up with whom (except in the case of a half-dozen secondary characters) until the last handful of pages. Up to then, I felt as if my chain was being jerked forty-three different ways.

When the Big Reunion I'd been waiting for finally seemed solid enough not to crumble beneath yet another switcheroo -- and I had to re-read a bunch of pages several times to make sure -- it was anticlimactic. By that point, I'd already been duped more times than I could count. (The deus ex machina breakup that paved the way for the reunion was so damned abrupt, I almost missed it. What's more, it was shockingly offhanded, given all the un-breakup-like words and actions that preceded it.)

I wanted buildup, damn it, not a carnival ride! I wanted to be all breathless with anticipation and melty inside and then puddle up at the end . . . because I haven't had a good cry over a book since "Brokeback." Instead, my reaction was more like Finally. Am I allowed to be happy for these guys now? Sheesh.

Maybe the conclusion of this story was the author's nod to real life; happy endings, if they come at all, don't often come tidily. But since the rest of the book was anything but a nod to real life, why start when the romance should be ratcheting up instead of flung around in the Mad Tea Party ride at Disneyland? Or maybe the author was trying to demonstrate precisely how and why the heroes were special, why their love endured, why they were worthy of their HEA. That I can appreciate, but I just can't appreciate the way he did it.

I've been spoiled by the romance genre. I realize now just how much. I've turned into a complete sap. Maybe I've turned into a complete simpleton. Hell, maybe I've always been a closet idealist who craves that satisfyingly predictable march from estrangement to togetherness with no emotional detours or artificial barriers so close to the end.

In any case, kudos to Kluger. I only get this riled up if I'm either totally invested in characters or totally alienated by them. And I wasn't alienated. In fact, I was very nearly heartbroken at a couple of points.

Phrew. Now what should I read?


Kris said...

LOL! You have been totally and utterly spoiled by the romance genre, you sap.

Think about it, though, can you honestly say that it could have ended any other way without you being pissed off with the main protags??

Tam said...

Oh I vaguely remember this now. One guy had a partner. For me if there is too much pissing around and waffling then I don't care anymore. You don't DESERVE a HEA. Fuck it, be miserable.

My god I'm harsh. LOL Sorry it didn't leave you totally satisfied and a ball of sobbing mush. Maybe next time.

K. Z. Snow said...

I like the theory behind the approach, Kris; I just didn't like the execution. I found it bizarre. And, as Tam said, there was "too much pissing around and waffling."

I want a climax that' know...climactic, not anticlimactic. (I could say I've had enough of those in RL, but I'm too dignifiied.)

Tam, I didn't exactly want to be a "ball of sobbing mush." :-) But a happy sigh and a tear or two would've been nice.

The very last scene was sweet. I just wish the lead-up to it had been less scattershot.

Jeanne Barrack said...

Okay, checked that one off...
Besides, I wanted a nekkid torso on the cover! ;~D

K. Z. Snow said...

NO, Jeanne, don't check it off! Honestly, it's a smart, sensitive, and very funny book --well worth reading. I just got a little flustered by the way the ending was handled, because I'd so been looking forward to it. And it's all to the author's credit that he made me look forward to it.

My reaction isn't the norm, believe me. The book got raves from readers on Amazon as well as Wave's blog, and deservedly so.

By all means, give it a go!

Jeanne said...


Jeanne said...