rating: 2 of 5 stars
Once again, Margaret Atwood's style saves this book from what I would consider to be a complete failure. Her ability to make you, the reader, see the characters, to feel as though you know them as well (or as little) as they know each other and to feel the emotions they feel toward one another is her strength as a writer, and she does not fail to exploit that strength in Bodily Harm. However, the way the novel is structured around the book lends itself to a jerky-feeling reading, leaving the reader feeling disgruntled and ready to debark as if on a turbulent plane, rather than compelled to continue by that ravenous desire to know What Happens.
Also, the book was too political. This is not to say it was pushing a particular political agenda, or even that I prefer books with non-political themes/plots. I just feel that this particular book wasn't so much about the details of the politics as about the "broad scope" and theme concerning what was happening in the Caribbean when Rennie (the protagonist, a Canadian journalist) arrives for her visit. It is fine to write about such themes, and Atwood is often successful--as with The Handmaid's Tale for instance--but this particular book needed the details in order to tell the story, and by omitting them for the sake of focusing the reader's attention on the "broader picture," Atwood lost a good deal of my attention and interest, primarily because I couldn't easily piece together everything that was happening in both background and foreground of the novel.
All that being said, Atwood is still one of my preferred authors, and Bodily Harm is another testament to her ability to create full-fledged characters you are convinced you might meet someday. I am not sure any of Atwood's other books will ever live up to my esteem for The Handmaid's Tale, but I am encouraged to keep looking.
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