Thursday, February 2, 2012

Review: Chopsticks

Jessica Anthony & Rodrigo Corral
Glory is an incredibly talented teenage pianist who, after a now-infamous (and disastrous) performance, has disappeared. This is, as the book says, the story of where she went. But it's also the story of her family, her descent into madness, and the boy-next-door she falls in love with. The story is told primarily through pictures with very little text and Chopsticks, which has a website and paid iPod/iPad apps is being called a "concept novel,"and it's definitely the first of its kind that I've read.

This book is, above all else, visually stunning. The pictures are beautiful and very effective at conveying the mood of the novel. It's a book that, regardless of story, is just so pretty and so atmospheric. Though pictures make up the majority of the book they're effective in setting not only the mood and setting of the story, but also establishing characters (and their pasts) and moving events forward. It's a quick read, but an engrossing one, and readers looking for something a little different will love it.

However there is, at least for me, something missing here. As great as the pictures are they also lead to ambiguity and I'm not entirely 100% sure what happens in this book, especially the latter half. I feel like I missed, somehow, the part where Glory and Francisco (the boy next door) met, and I'm not sure what prompted Glory's descent into madness. The ending, as well as events leading up to it, is a bit vague and I'm not sure if this is done intentionally -- to have the reader fill in the blanks and leave it open to interpretation -- or if I'm just not understanding this storytelling form well enough. This is definitely not your basic, straightforward storyline and while this will surely work for some readers, it didn't entirely work for me. I wanted more detail, more information about the characters and events, than this type of novel allowed. It's an interesting and beautiful work for sure, but very different (in both good and bad ways) from the typical novel.

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