Cover Image: The Book of Love

The Book of Love

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

DNF @ 13%

What I did read (~83 pages) was a meandering slog to get through, and I was horrified to think I'd spent another 8+ hours reading. I saw slight shades of both American Gods and Netflix's The OA, but Link's writing was just so slow that I didn't care enough to get further along to see if the plot went anywhere.

Was this review helpful?

Three teens, Laura, Mo and Daniel, abruptly awaken in a school classroom, aware that they were dead. They’re met by Mr. Anabin, and the frightening Bogamil. Anabin informs them they must learn to perform magic within a year, or they will be returned to death. They will be given specific magical tasks to complete, and they can tell no one outside their small group of where they have been.

While they were gone, the teens’ families have reconciled themselves to their deaths. We see this in how all of them have moved on in some way or the other, or are trying to cope, as we see with Laura’s sister Susannah, who has transformed herself from the messy child into responsible one. Formerly, Laura was known to be the organized and responsible of the two.

When the three teens return home, their families’ memories are rewritten to incorporate their return, which is explained away as the trio being in Ireland the past year at boarding school.

The three try to return to their former lives, but notice the changes, and struggle. They also struggle with learning magic, while Susannah tries to pull the two realities she feels in her mind together: Laura, Mo and Daniel dead, contrasted with Laura, Mo and Daniel back from Ireland. (Note that Laura, Mo, Daniel and Susannah are all point of view characters, and each chapter is named for the character the reader will be spending time with.)

As if this wasn't enough, there are other supernatural and possibly malevolent beings in town attracted to the magic of the teens' resurrection. These beings begin infiltrating the lives of the adolescents and the town, causing chaos and deaths.

This is a long book, and it takes quite a while to get to the point where the trio are making a go of their new lives, and in some cases, new powers. Much of the prose is devoted to the confusion, anger and sheer amazement each member of the trio feels about being alive again.

What is interesting, and obvious, but not to them, is that returning from the dead does not magically heal the existing problems in their relationships with each other, or their propensity for making mistakes or in some cases, dumb or harmful decisions. They're still teens trying to figure out who they are and what they want, and the stress of learning magic and pretending they were away at school exacerbates some of their less laudatory qualities. Meaning, all the jealousies, insecurities, crushes, angers, wants, needs, aspirations and ambitions are still in them, and often their worst selves are at the fore making choices during the year they each have.

The characters are lovingly crafted and flawed, and in one case fairly unlikable, even though she is a point of view character. Probably my favourite characters in this book are Mo and his dead grandmother, a hugely successful romance novel writer, and Susannah.

There is also much happening in the town with its large cast of characters, and there are some fairly loopy ideas and scenes throughout the novel. But there are also emotional moments as the four try to navigate who they are and what they can do, and where do they want to be. Author Kelly Link does a wonderful job with the characterizations, and she even makes a bloody, terrifying being who has a stake in what happens at the end of the year at times sympathetic.

This is not the easiest book to get through, partly because of its length and the time it takes to move all the characters into place and set the stakes so that when the teens have to use what the have learned and deal with the outcomes, it feels earned.

If you're in the mood for a dark, sprawling story with flawed characters making mistakes and bad decisions until they don't, with sweet and shocking and scary and sad moments, and this this is for you.

Thank you to Netgalley and to Random House Publishing Group - Random House for this ARC in exchange for this my review.

Was this review helpful?

Laura, Daniel, and Mo disappeared without a trace a year ago. Now they're back and need to figure out where they went, how, and why in order to save themselves and their town from a darkness even worse than the one they'd been in.
It's a story full of questions that takes its sweet time answering them, and that's a big part of its charm. You start the story as lost as the protagonists and get little pieces revealed from their very different perspectives in a way that makes everything feel utterly magical. Everyone is so different in temperament and desires that you get to explore the situation from varied angles.
It's also a story about relationships and how they shape a person and their future. Everyone's decisions are, at one time or another, directly influenced by the people around them and the feelings they have for each other. It makes for some very emotional moments that don't always pay off becuase there are so many of them that you don't really get the chance to connect with everything going on. The unfortunate truth is that the same thing that makes it great, the varied perspectives from many different characters, is also what makes it hard to truly connect when you don't get time to process one revelation before you're smack dab in the middle of another event.
I think it suffered a little from the fact that I've been hearing such raving reviews about it that I kind of expected too much from it. It is a phenomenal read and incredibly well-written, it's just not the genre-redefining work that people kept pushing me to read. The typical case of too much hype for its own good.

Very happy thanks to NetGalley and Random House for the magical read!

Was this review helpful?

Thank you for the ARC of this book, sadly I had to DNF this book because I just couldn't get into it. The plot was kind of all over the place. There were way too many points of view and it was hard to keep track, and lastly the book was way too long for me especially making it 40% into the story and nothing special had happened and I wound up with more questions than answers. I'm sure this book is up other people's alley but it just hit the mark with me.

Was this review helpful?

Not a book for everyone but I can see why many enjoyed it. I wouldn’t highly recommend this one across the board but within a readers advisory conversation, I would know if this was a book a specific reader would really enjoy. It was expansive; not a quick read but still very rewarding. I enjoyed its strangeness be how immersive it was. I look forward to reading Link’s short fiction. I know that’s what she’s known for. But this was still a gargantuan triumph just the same

Was this review helpful?

This book is, frankly, bizarre and baffling.

The story is told by several narrators (maybe a dozen), each of which is unreliable. And all of whom are lost.

The plot is twisty and nonlinear, and goes round in circles and ties the reader in knots.

The genre of this novel is dark academia, but sometimes it obfuscates in darkness and grey so much that even the biggest fan of magical realism may be confused.

Me. It's me. I'm confused.

I just think maybe there was too much going on. Was the author going for Midsummer Night's Dream? That would make sense.

Susannah starts the book saying "I'm tired of this. Not knowing. Being in the dark. Being alone in the dark. Don't you ever get tired of it?"

And honestly, that's how I felt about this book.

Was this review helpful?

“The book of love” conta a história de Susannah, Laura, Daniel e Mo. Mas ao mesmo tempo conta outras várias histórias no meio. Mas vamos começar do começo:

Um ano se passou desde um dia fatídico: Laura, Daniel e Mo desapareceram da face da terra. Susannah ficou sozinha sem a irmã, o amigo e o ex-namorado. Num ataque de fúria, ela pega a guitarra que era de sua irmã e quebra no quarto porque está sozinha, porque sente falta deles, porque se sente culpada mesmo não tendo ideia do que aconteceu.

É é então que os três desaparecidos “acordam”. Eles estão na sala de música do colégio e lá eles recebem a notícia de que sim, eles morreram um ano atrás e agora, se eles quiserem ficar vivos, vão ter que cumprir com um acordo de encontrar algo para os dois que falam com eles ali. Porém, eles não estão sozinhos.

Além deles, mais uma pessoa aparece na sala, uma pessoa que não lembra quem é ou o que fez e como chegou ali que eles dão o nome de Bowie. Assim eles entram num acordo: os quatro vão tentar conseguir o que é procurado, mas, ao fim de tudo, apenas dois vão poder ficar e dois terão que voltar para o mundo dos mortos.

Quando eles voltam para suas vidas, ninguém estranha porque uma mágica foi feita para que todos acreditem que esse ano desaparecido eles estavam na verdade estudando na Irlanda em uma bolsa que eles ganharam pra ir até lá.

Enquanto a história vai passando e eles tentam seguir as regras impostas a eles, também outros personagens vão surgindo na história: Thomas, sendo um dos mais importantes para o que se dá com o quarteto de pessoas mortas.

Eu gostei muito desse livro. Ele é separado, cada capítulo, mostra o ponto de vista de cada um dos personagens, e mesmo que tenha sido bom, muitas vezes muitos pontos de vista foram exagerados. Até mesmo o ponto de vista da cidade nos temos em algum momento e essa é minha única reclamação.

Fora isso, todos os personagens são ótimos: Kelly Link faz com que a gente se importe com aqueles personagens e queira saber o que vai acontecer com eles, se no fim tudo vai se resolver ou se eles terão ainda que perder suas vidas.

Existe uma vilã no livro, mas ela não é a única a fazer coisas questionáveis e isso foi uma das coisas mais interessantes pra mim. Todo mundo em algum ponto fez algo ruim, algumas coisas que machucaram outras ou coisas com um resultado mais trágico do que o esperado, mas todas igualmente questionáveis e isso é algo que eu gosto bastante porque gosto desses personagens que não são 100% perfeitos.

O livro tem um final fechado, que eu achei maravilhosamente escrito tanto no que é o final da história quanto ao que se fala sobre finais e como eles nunca realmente acontecem.

É um livro também que é cheio de reflexões. Você fica se perguntando o que faria no lugar dos personagens e como lidaria com aquela situação, além de tocar em pontos bem importantes e honestos sobre o luto.

Vale muito a pena ler esse livro e eu estou aqui de dedos cruzados torcendo pra que ele seja comprado por uma editora brasileira!

Thanks for the free e-book, Penguin Random House International.

Was this review helpful?

There's whimsy and beauty in the unexpected and no one does it better than Kelly Link. The story sits with you and slowly unveils itself around you - it's not a story you fly through and forget about,. Like grief, the story surrounds you and carries you, though I did start noticing the length of the story around the 70% mark.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you to Random House for an ARC of this in exchange for an honest review.

A solid premise spoiled by a plot that was needlessly convoluted and a story so much longer than it needed to be.

Was this review helpful?

I received a pre-release copy of The book of Love by Kelly link all opinions written here are my own.
The book of Love is not something that I would have picked up myself. The cover piqued my interest and while it was a good story, I also found it very confusing and hard to follow. There were a lot of places where the characters did. Things that I felt were a bit of filer they didn't really need to do them. Or say them. There were other parts that I wish the Kelly, link had expanded on. An example of this would have been the relationships between characters. Another example is the motivation for the two main characters and why they want to not have their particular jobs anymore. As well as why they care for each other a little more backstory on who they are.
Due to the slack of backstory and the little bit of sci-fi or fantasy that you will find in this book gives The book of Love. A little bit of an eyes wide shut sort of flavor. I'm glad I stepped outside of my comfort zone to read this book, but I'm not sure that I would read it again. However, I would be interested to find out more about the genre that she writes to see if this is on par for what is normal for her style of writing.
I thank you for the opportunity to write this review.

Was this review helpful?

This has all the things I love about Kelly Link's short fiction. She's a master at melding the mundane and the magical. And while the magical is truly next-level here, it's getting to know these teenaged characters and seeing them manage the relationships in their lives.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you to NetGalley, Random House & Kelly Link for a digital ARC of The Book of Love in exchange for an honest review.

This book was ALL the buzz & I just had to read it. I will admit, it took me a while because it's double the length of what I normally read.

This story follows Laura, Daniel & Mo who mysteriously disappeared from their hometown without a trace. They then reappear almost a year later in one of their old school classrooms. Their music teacher is there & seems to know how & why they disappeared & how they can come back for good. For one, they're dead. However, the music teacher tells them that they can reclaim their lives by performing a series of magical tasks for him. They will return to the world of the living with their friends & family, but can tell no one of anything they know. To complicate matters, other supernatural figures begin to infiltrate the town due to the miraculous resurrection & now everyone is in danger.

This sounded so incredibly unique & original and it was getting so much hype. It was so-so for me. I rated it 3 Stars.

The pacing was so slow! Not only was the book extremely long to begin with, but it DRAGGED. If an author is going to right a 640 page book, it needs to have a good pace. The characters also bland. I didn't really form any attachments to them. The writing was great. Kelly Link is certainly talented, but the slow pacing, boring plot at time & bland characters just didn't work for me.

Was this review helpful?

This book is incredible. Kelly Link is an astounding talent, which we all knew already, but this book just seals the deal. I loved the set-up of this narrative and the characters kept me drawn in the whole time.

Was this review helpful?

Kelly Link's _The Book of Love_ is excellent. Daniel, Susannah, Mo, and Laura found a magic object of great power, but lost it because they didn't know how to use it. Then, Daniel, Mo, and Laura disappeared. When they return, they, along with Bowie (whose origins are uncertain), Susannah (Laura's sister), Thomas (who lives to avenge his brother's death), and Mr. Anabin (their music teacher), must find the lost magical object and complete their quest, preferably before winter break is over.

Although the characters are all adults, they are very young adults and have not really assumed adult roles. Laura and Susannah still bicker with each other. Laura, Susannah, and Daniel are in a band together. Susanna and Daniel have an on-again-off-again romance. Despite the characters seeming immature, they are sexually active. And some of the sex scenes are explicit, if not especially erotic.

I really enjoyed the book. Exposition and world building can be tricky. Readers don't like being confused, but neither do we like an info dump. Link fed information as I needed it. Just when I was getting frustrated, there was another crumb of information to provide context. I don't mind doing a little work as a reader, and I enjoyed the puzzles and riddles that the characters (and readers) had to figure out to piece together what comes next.

Was this review helpful?

Beloved short story writer Kelly Link’s first novel, The Book of Love, will be polarizing. It is character-driven, meandering, philosophical, and really quite strange. Many readers will find that this isn’t for them. In news that should surprise no one, I ate it up.

It’s almost impossible to describe what this book is actually “about,” but I’ll take a stab at it. Four friends, all on the cusp of adulthood, stumble into a centuries-old magical feud. Before the events of the story, three of them die. The story itself chronicles them coming back to life, trying to stay alive, and battling two creepy, cunning old guys and their petty, vengeful, moon goddess mistress. There’s a grimy otherworld where characters run around as wolves. There’s a little girl who turns into a unicorn. There’s a deceased romance novelist whose creations come back to life. There’s a character who, in an adolescent tantrum, turns himself into the Atlantic Ocean. And yet it all comes together and makes sense somehow!

The writing, the themes, the vision! Kelly Link, I apologize. I wasn’t familiar with your game. The Book of Love is tender and wry, generous and cutting. It’s existential and deeply embodied. I could see, smell, and hear the environment, the characters, and their magic. But what I loved most were the characters: flawed, annoying, hilarious, stupid, stubborn, generous, and trying their best to be good. I loved them all (even Laura, who never quite has the self-awareness to realize how awful she can be), but Mo claimed a special place in my heart. A young, Black, gay guy living in a small town? Grieving, vulnerable, but tough? Obsessed with opera, has a crew of fun queer besties, and enough charisma to pull “straight” guys and a centuries-old hottie? Yeah. He’s a king. Wishing only the best for you and your murder boyfriend, buddy.

The Book of Love is not a page-turner – it’s a slow-burner. There are a ton of plot threads here and Link is in no hurry to help readers put them together. She simply trusts that you will – and I did. The first act had me confused about what was happening, where the story was going, and what the structure would be, but when I started to understand it felt like I was being lit up from the inside out. This is a story about stories, about life, love, and loss, about choices and how they can hurt or heal people. It’s also a story about intense teenaged musicians and romance novels. Is it any wonder that I loved it?!

I devoured this book in a few short days, which I attribute primarily to January Lavoy’s masterful performance as the audiobook narrator. Lavoy does an excellent job voicing each of the POV characters — which is saying something, because there are about a dozen. Her performance perfectly highlights the humour, heart, angst, and even some of the gentle absurdity of the story. The almost 24-hour long production absolutely flew by, and I’m not sure that the text alone would’ve done the same. Highly recommend giving the audiobook a go.

The Book of Love isn’t for every reader. It’s complex, slow, and somewhat opaque (at least initially). But those readers out there who actually like those things? Readers like me? You’re going to love it. One of my favourites of the year so far.

Was this review helpful?

While this book initially drew me in with it's mysterious and magical premise, it was just a little too drawn out for me and I couldn't stick with it. I am hopeful that this was just a "not now" and not a "not ever" read and I am looking forward to coming back to it when I'm ready.

Was this review helpful?

Thank you, Net Gallery, for the advanced copy. The book started off a little choppy and confusing and then I realized it was just the character. Some of the characters were hard to like and did not even like each other. There is some mystery, some magic. I would recommend.

Was this review helpful?

This book was interesting because on one hand, I wanted to really, really like it. And there were parts that I did really, really like. But at the same time, I felt like I was slogging through huge swaths of the book, and I really can't pin down the things that made it a slog and not as enjoyable as I hoped.

I found the characters interesting and wanted to spend more time in the story with each of them. I enjoyed the central premise and the sense of an answer hanging just out of reach the entire time. The writing had a good flow (although it tended toward repetition) and had several passages that I highlighted on my Kindle. The ending made sense and seemed to tie up most of the loose ends in a satisfactory way. I enjoyed the concept of magic in the book and how it was used.

But for some reason, it didn't all come together for me. I'm still going to try out more of Kelly Link's books, and I hope that she writes another novel. This one just felt... incomplete. It wasn't bad by any stretch. I would call it a good book, but it seemed to have the makings of a great book, which gives it a slight air of disappointment.

Was this review helpful?

I was both thoroughly confused and utterly intrigued by this book. I think I know what happened, generally, but I also think that this whole story truly only makes sense in the mind of the author, who knows so much more than I do about the magical realms she created for this story. I cannot explain why I kept reading this book. I didn't like it and I didn't dislike it. But I also have never read anything comparable before, which kept me powering through. Do I feel like I just woke up from a fever dream? Yes. And I imagine that the longer I am awake, the more it will fade in my mind until I truly can't tell you what I just experienced. But it was a wild ride!

Was this review helpful?

What more do you need to say about Kelly Link? If you enjoy her short stories you will also enjoy her first full length novel.

Was this review helpful?