Last time I checked 257,901 people on GoodReads had given Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens 5 stars. Can all those people be wrong? That would be crazy, right?
So let's not use the word 'wrong.' But really, I am completely baffled.
In the beginning I was engaged and thought the writing was lovely. And then as the pages wore on it seemed the author became more interested in finding new ways to describe things than in telling the story, and so it went on and on with pages of tedious description, quotes from nature books, poetry, etc.
I am a writer. I'm not well-known, I don't have a NY Times best seller, but I am published. I write and read and study writing continuously. So when I read there's a little critique going on in my head. When something annoys me or pulls me out of the story I highlight it so I know not to do that in my own work.
Here are things I highlighted in this book (they became more frequent as I continued on and by the end I was skipping large passages):
1. The book is written in the point of view of Kya but every once in a while it switches POV, out of the blue, to explain something.
2. Then, about 1/4 of the way in there is even an omniscient narrator (another POV) who tells the story of Kya's parents. Annoying.
3. Another POV switch to explain why Tate never came back. Again, jarring, pulling me out of the story. It could be explained later when he returns.
4. Then, it all of a sudden changes to present tense, when all along (and through the rest of the book) it is past tense.
WHERE IS HER EDITOR, FOR GOD'S SAKE?
5. There are long passages from the nature articles Kya pours over, because even though she did not learn to read until she was a teenager, she suddenly is reading scientific materials. I am not interested in those passages, and they don't move the story along.
6. She goes to the library to request those scientific books (let me just say her sudden knowledge is a huge credibility stretch) and the librarian offers to get them for her. How do you get a library card if you live in a marsh and have no i.d. and no address?
7. Then, guess what? She writes a nature book and gets it published. Talk about a suspension of disbelief. And then at some point she gets a check for $5000 from her publisher. She could not receive a check from a publisher without having a completed W9 which would require a social security number. She continues to get substantial checks, so let's just say that COULD happen - how would she cash them? She has no bank account.
8. When she fixes up her shack (which she's lived in her whole life without toilet facilities or heat or running water or a place to plug in her blow-dryer) and puts in running water and electricity, did she get permits? Does her contractor just come in and jury-rig all the utilities?
9. She orders stuff from the Sears catalog. With what?
I could go on...
The last 1/4 of the book is tedious and repetitive with much unnecessary description. And then I kept thinking I'd reached the end and I'd be so relieved, and then I'd turn the page and it would just continue on.
The trial scene, in particular, could be cut entirely. There's nothing new or revelatory there. It's predictable and mind-numbing.
Ok, I'm done.
Books are subjective, we all know that. But I can't believe 257,901 people could be so wrong.