The Angel’s Game – Carlos Ruiz Zafon, copyright 2008.
Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Source: Lent to me by a friend
Reason for Reading: Exploring the reading choices of friends.
It has been barely a month since my last DNF, Parrot and Olivier in America, and yet, here I sit with another spectacular failure in my hands. The last few couple of weeks have not been good for me reading wise. A couple of weeks ago I decided that, after 3 hours, I couldn’t go any farther with Helen Dunmore’s The Siege on Audiobook. The following weekend we were in Budapest for three days and I didn’t get a single page read. When we got back, I struggled with The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Yesterday, I gave up on the book. 😦
David Martin is a struggling writer in Barcelona in the 1920s. Tragedy continually befell David as a young man and now, as an adult, he finds himself perpetually indebted to his mentor Senor Vidal. Vidal helps Martin acquire two jobs, one writing mysteries for a Barcelona paper and the other writing penny novels for a rather dubious publisher. David receives a strange note one evening from Andreas Corelli, an admirer of his work, who treats him to a night of exquisite pleasure at a local burlesque house. Several nights after his experience there, David returns to the brothel only to find it abandoned. After some detective work, he discovers that the business has been closed since a fire destroyed half the building and killed several of its employees several years ago…some of whom David is certain he met on his visit. Was it a dream, or was he actually there? Martin goes on with his writing and his health begins to deteriorate. Further encounters with Senor Corelli give him the chance he has been looking for to escape from the tentacles of his current employer. It is only after David accepts a deal to write for Senor Corelli that he discovers, the publishing house the man claims to own in Paris has long been out of business and Corelli has been dead for years. Worse yet, Martin soon discovers that he is not the first person to be approached to write for Senor Corelli since his apparent death.
It sounds like a terribly interesting mystery doesn’t it? Not enough I guess! I particularly did not like Zafon’s use of supernatural elements. I am not opposed to there use in general, but I think Zafon used them too blatantly for my taste. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this book is the trouble I am having recounting what occurred in the 248 pages I actually read. Even now, I am overcome by a great sense of indifference towards the story and its characters. As I struggled through, I kept wondering why it wasn’t holding my attention. I couldn’t get past this strange feeling that I was reading John Grisham. I don’t mean to slander Grisham in any way, he writes some fabulous stories, but his characters engender absolutely no emotion. I found Zafon to be much the same; the story is the story and nothing but the story. There is nothing the slightest bit literary contained in its pages. To Zafon’s credit, the story was fast paced and anything but boring, but after nearly 250 pages I found that I had absolutely no interest in what was going to happen to the characters. I resigned myself to another failure. When I stopped reading, my last though was how on earth the author could require over 440 pages to tell the story.
Usually, when I start thinking about putting a book down for good I feel some pangs of guilt. I have invested emotion in the book and don’t want to disconnect myself from the characters earlier than I am supposed to. With The Angel’s Game, that didn’t happen. I was content giving it up, save for the fact that it was leant to me by a friend here in Split. I like reading books recommended to me by friends and I am going to find it painful admitting to this particular friend that her reading choice was not my cup of tea.
I had heard wonderful things about Carlos Ruiz Zafon and am disappointed I didn’t enjoy this book. Perhaps this just wasn’t the right book to introduce myself to Zafon’s work. As it stands right now, I don’t think I will be seeking out any of his other works in the near future.
Check out some of these far better reviews: