The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

It may not seem too auspicious to start my year in reviews with this review, because I did not get along with the book but I have set a few targets for myself this year. This is just to change things up (very, very little) and to tackle books that I have otherwise been ignoring. Do check out my compilation lists for the previous year Mega Stats 2021!, they are all linked here.

I want to:

  • Read at least one book on my physical bookshelf that I should have read ages ago (per month). I tend to not feel the rush to pick something up that I bought just because I am confident that it will remain with me!
  • Ensure that any given week does not only feature reviews of advance copies and has library/kindle audio/physical books thrown in.
  • Review the backlog of books I read last year but count towards this year, because it is when I am thinking about them and reviewing them. This last bit is why I am starting with this review.
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I have had this book on my virtual shelf for ages. First, I pushed reading it because the release date got delayed, then I saw that my library had a physical copy, and I thought I might like it better in that format.
Finally, I sat down and read it when I had no excuses left. That does not mean I went in with a preconceived notion that I might not enjoy the work. I had decent expectations from the narrative. I have always found the concept of a hotel and how it can be used to tie up any genre of stories a bonus.
I should therefore start with the misnomer. The hotel is not the primary lynchpin of the narrative. It does not even pretend to be. There is an occasion where a reader can claim that the main plotlines crossed paths at the hotel, and that determined the fates of the individual storylines, but I do not think it is heavy enough to carry the entire load of the book.
I really enjoyed the author’s writing. It was very vivid, and I could tell exactly what I was expected to think of the individual characters (or so I assume), and they all seemed so lost in varying degrees. The primary people are a pair of half-siblings. We begin with the life of one and then transition to the life of the other and make our way back towards the end. Something about the way the story is laid out is done well. I would definitely pick up another book by the author.
That said, I did not like the story itself (yes, even though I liked the way it was presented- I can be complex that way). It was too abrupt for the characters, and I was not as invested in their individual lives as I wanted to be. I was not satisfied overall with what I was offered for all of them. The ‘Aha’ moment escaped me when certain things were revealed. We pan in and out of several fleeting figures who have a lot more at stake in this book than an average reader could predict.
I do not know exactly the kind of person I could recommend this book to, but I am looking forward to what the author might do next!
I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers, but the review is entirely based on my own reading experience.

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