Friday, November 14, 2014

Book Review - Edge of Eternity

Edge of Eternity is the final book in the Century Trilogy by Ken Follett.  I really love historical fiction, and I really really loved The Pillars of the Earth (also by Follett), so I got invested in this trilogy.    

It's hard to rate a book like this, because I both loved and hated it in almost equal measure.  I almost didn't write a review, because I'm not sure how to write my objections without potentially getting some weird search results directed at my blog.  But I had to try.

Here's what I loved:  Follett does a great job of weaving stories though the historical narrative.  The main characters are all somewhat closely related to famous people or events that happened.  This book starts in the 60s and mostly ends in the 80s.  (The other books were set during WWI and WWII respectively).  I'm a little more familiar with this time period, so it was fun for me to kind of associate what was happening with what I know my parents were up to during that time.  Do you ever do that? Where you have a general knowledge that something happened in a certain year, and then you are like "Wait, my parents were seniors in high school when that happened!!!" Sometimes history seems so far removed, but when you relate it to people you know who lived through it, then it hits closer to home.  I've gone on a tangent now.  But the point is that I really loved the stories.  Follett can make up good stories.

Now for the problems I should probably make bullets so I don't get too off-track:
  • The first book starts with several different families in several different countries.  As the first and second books progress, they all end up meeting, intermarrying, etc.  By the time we get to book 3, I kept getting freaked out because everyone is cousins with everyone else (and a lot of them don't necessarily know they are related, because of secret pregnancies, etc)!  
  • Just generally TMI all the time.  Follett seems to think the most important thing to know about each character is their level of experience with the opposite sex.  He would literally introduce a character like "so and so has had x number of girlfriends, kissed this many girls, slept with this many...."  Um, I don't care.  That doesn't need to be an integral part of the story, ok??  And the actual sex scenes are just ridiculous.  This does tend to be a problem in Follett books, but this one was way worse (probably because he was trying to focus on the free love era of the 1960s, but still, you can be a little more subtle).  
  • On the same topic, and this is a bit of a spoiler - be prepared for approximately 100% of the female characters to have unplanned pregnancies.  Again, this is one of Follett's favorite things to do.  Again, it annoys me to no end.  1 or 2 would be fine.  But when you have 7 in one book, that's just insane.
  • His political biases were way more obvious in this book.  Again, maybe because I am more familiar with this time period, but it was really distracting and annoying.  I'm sure history is full of examples of both liberal and conservative folks doing stupid things, but he chose to paint all the liberals as awesome and the one conservative character as a complete jerk who basically had to buy a wife from Russia because no woman would give him the time of day.  Really?   
  • It's a long book.  In a series of long books.  It seemed like he forgot to wrap up a few storylines.  Maybe he did this in the other books, but it didn't bother me because I knew there would be another one in the series?  I don't know.  But he seemed to forget to tell us what happened to some key characters that I really wanted to know about.
So anyway....  those are my thoughts.  I initially gave this 4 out of 5 stars just because I really did love the stories.  But I'm starting to re-think that.  There are a lot of negatives on my list that might drop the rating down to a 3.  

If you've read the other 2 books in the series, I'd say go ahead and read this one for closure.  If you haven't read the other 2, I wouldn't bother with this series.  There are plenty of better things to read.  

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