VELLUM by Hal Duncan

I finished this book about a week ago and I’m still not sure what to make of it.  Did I enjoy it?  Yes and no.  I enjoyed reading the words.  Hal uses powerful prose and can put over strong images.  When he wants to, he can use deft writing skills to plant just the right image in your mind’s-eye….. or, that’s the way it feels, anyway.  So I enjoyed reading the set scenes and admired his use of prose.  But the way the book is put together is – deliberately – very fragmented.  It is easily the most fragmented book I have ever read, even counting Catch 22.  I would have taken me an enormous effort to try to fit together the various threads, and really I am only your average escapist reader, not a student of literature prepared to work to understand.  So I didn’t follow much of what was happening.  And I still didn’t follow it after I had finished, even though I am sure there were lots of cunning snippets towards the end which, if I’d spotted and understood them, would have knitted together some of the plot.  But I didn’t, so they didn’t.  On reflection, the fragmentary nature of the book gave me one other problem – I didn’t identify with any of the myriad characters.  I wasn’t rooting for one (or indeed any) of the protagonists.  The fly-by-night nature of the action left me with nothing to grab hold of and empathise with.
   So, did I enjoy it?  I’m still not sure.
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