The Need for a Non-Stars Option

To set the mood you may want to listen to this while you read.

I finished One Rainy Day in May (The Familiar: Volume 1). Giddiness takes over when I complete a book. Not only have I accomplished something, but now I get to check it off my to-do list. Books read are tracked on Goodreads. I like Goodreads but it leaves something to be desired by way of the rating system. Five stars don’t give me the expressional latitude to communicate the nuanced feelings books create. I could write a review or I could forgo ratings altogether. Instead, I rate it and then lecture my friends about why I rated a book as I did. Lecture, persuade, plead forgiveness, excuse me, beg them to read and validate my decision. You know, normal book people stuff.

At 10:30 PM, I began a tirade while my fella was attempting to read his own book. I could give this book two stars, I explained. The storytelling is okay, the characters are alright, but there isn’t anything I emotionally connect with pulling me in. There aren’t depths that all mankind can relate to as shared archetypal characters. I didn’t cry, I didn’t laugh, I wasn’t left gaping at the intelligence of the content. There were good lines and turn of phrases but not enough to say it was beautifully written. My two favorites were from a character who rarely appears, Ozgur.

“But Oz loves rain. Almost as much as he loves this city. Oz has lived and worked her streets for over twenty-seven years. And one thing stays true: he never gets sick of the way she rises at the dawn, the way she grows smokier come dusk, and the way during a big storm like this she falls down and her mascara runs.”

And:

“Maybe it was time to stop making longing a lover. Maybe it was time to get out of the rain.”

However, I could also give it five stars. Because here’s the thing- the story is told by an ensemble cast both large and varied. Not only are they color coded at the top corner of each narrator, they have their own type which is credited at the back. Aside from the cool graphics (which The Sound and the Fury would have greatly benefited from if Faulkner had realized his dreams), there is distinct language styles, punctuation, and foreign tongues for each of the characters. At one point, the story gets super meta and we meet a Narrative Construct explaining the parameters for storytelling with these characters. I adored it with all of my pretentious heart.

So in the end, I went with four stars. I’ll read volume two so I can see where we go from here. Since Danielewski has likened it to a television series, maybe it’s like season one of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It has some great themes that just need to be worked out a little better.

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