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The Accidental - First Impressions

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megustaleer 25th April 2006 08:40 PM

In the first 75+ pages the reader experiences being in the head of a pre-pubescent girl, a tormented adolescent boy, and a predatory middle aged man. I found none of these habitats comfortable.

This book seems to me to have been written with an eye on all the literary awards going, as the reader has to do all the work to make a comprehensible story out of the disjointed clips (to borrow the camera metaphor) of narrative.

Hazel 26th April 2006 08:53 AM



Originally Posted by megustaleer
In the first 75+ pages the reader experiences being in the head of a pre-pubescent girl, a tormented adolescent boy, and a predatory middle aged man. I found none of these habitats comfortable.

This book seems to me to have been written with an eye on all the literary awards going, as the reader has to do all the work to make a comprehensible story out of the disjointed clips (to borrow the camera metaphor) of narrative.


I completely agree Meg. I am finding it hard to get into and not exactly picking it up each evening with a light heart. If it wasn't for BGO I would probably given up at my standard 100 pages mark. Hoping things will change.

Mungus 26th April 2006 04:05 PM

I read the book in December last year and my overall memory of it is that it was hard work and tried very hard to be meaningful. I liked the voice of the daughter though and ultimately found her to be the most sympathetic of the characters.

Hazel 30th April 2006 10:40 AM

I finished it last night and am looking forward to discussing it. But, I have to confess I didn't really enjoy it. There were brief flashes of good writing and engaging plot lines, but they were drowned in moments of 'trying to be clever' written diarrohea.

I had my doubts whether anything had seriously changed by Amber's prescence in the family, and that made me question the whole point of the book. It just seemed like such a pointless book which didn't tell us anything about this family.



Momo 30th April 2006 11:12 AM

I have only just started reading "The Accidental" by Ali Smith (still in the middle of the fantastic novel "The Falls" by Joyce Carol Oates - but I want to join in the discussions here, so I read them both at the same time). I find it quite difficult to get into, so far, there seems to be no connection between the characters, no flow in the story. I have to go back often to see what I missed before only to find out that I didn't miss it, there just seems to be no connection. Well, we'll see how it goes.

Starry 1st May 2006 08:28 AM

I've just finished this book and like everyone here I can't say I enjoyed it. I really don't like the stream of consciousness style, there are no speech marks which really gets up my nose and I disliked all of the characters, though perhaps Eve was the one I disliked least :)

I must admit this is not the sort of book I would have normally picked up, I only read it because I had pledged to myself that I would read this month's pick.

I agree Hazel, I don't think anything changed because of Amber's presence. They were just as disjointed and disfunctional as a family after as they were before.



Hazel 1st May 2006 10:27 AM

Originally Posted by Starry
I really don't like the stream of consciousness style


Usually I do like it especially when it is done really well and integral to the novel, but this just seemed like it for it's own sake and really didn't add anything to my appreciation of the characters. I will give Smith one point though - it made it a little fun to get into Magnus' head - but not for long.

katrina 2nd May 2006 06:22 PM

I'm not really getting very far with this book at the moment, its definately lacking inspiration, and leaving it at home by mistake when I was away for the weekend really diidn't help things. I will try to pick it up and get started on it again today and hopefully have it done by the weekend

donnae 4th May 2006 02:18 PM

I am about 70ish pages into this...have taken an instant dislike to Michael - what an unpleasant man.

I am quite enjoying this, I want to understand more about everyone, especially Eve because so far I have read very little about her.

Like you Momo, I have had to re-read a couple of times just to make sure I haven't turned two pages over instead of one.

Momo 4th May 2006 07:23 PM

Originally Posted by donnae
I am about 70ish pages into this...have taken an instant dislike to Michael - what an unpleasant man.


You're doing much better than me there. At page 70, I didn't even get who was who. :rolleyes:

katrina 5th May 2006 10:10 PM

I've finished it!!! Gosh that was a mighty strange book there were points which I actually hated, and parts which I thought were alright, never got overly excited though. I really hated the way the type hadn't been aligned so the writing looked all rough.

Came out of it wondering what the point was really, and there was far to many contemporary references for me, none of these would make sense in another country or in ten years time.

Momo 6th May 2006 12:58 PM
 

Originally Posted by katrina
Came out of it wondering what the point was really, and there was far to many contemporary references for me, none of these would make sense in another country or in ten years time.


Right. At one point I thought, am I reading a novel or is this a movie theatre flyer.

katrina 6th May 2006 01:39 PM

I agree there where some definate chapters that i issues with, I even got out a pad and made notes with lots of underlining about things I was angry with in this book, in some places she seemed to try far too hard.

Flingo 23rd May 2006 10:32 PM

I've fallen asleep twice today trying to read it!

Got to page 36, so looking forward to the next time I have insomnia!

I agree about the writing style - even just reading the bits so far "by" the 12 year old girl - I want to strangle her for the use of i.e. in completely inappropriate places.
 

Something has definitely i.e. begun.


Momo 23rd May 2006 10:54 PM

I think that was mainly stating that some people, especially teenagers, love to use a certain word (or abbreviation in this case) and apply it everywhere, even when it doesn't apply.
Not that I have any inclination in thinking that's so great that it makes the book more readable.

 

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Continued

 

megustaleer 24th May 2006, 09:51 AM

Originally Posted by Flingo

I agree about the writing style - even just reading the bits so far "by" the 12 year old girl - I want to strangle her for the use of i.e. in completely inappropriate places.

You'd better try some relaxation techniques, or your blood pressure will be through the roof by the time you get to the end, as this is a fairly persistant habit!!

 

(It does seem to be a typical teenage mannerism, one of my sons used to pepper his speech with 'basically')

Adrian 19th July 2006, 11:39 PM

I didn't get too far into this before it had to go back to the library. I thought it started off OK but obviously it didn't grip me enough and I postponed it to read other books.

 

Might try it again if I see it on the shelves.

 

tagesmann 2nd October 2006, 02:37 PM

 

I've only just read this book and I would like to add impressions.

 

I read "the beginning" and was hooked. I want to know what happens to the characters and how they will develop and resolve their "issues". A great start which encourages the reader on...

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I really didn't like this book at all. I found it frustrating and quite annoying - sorry to any fans of the book! I would have liked to have known more about who Amber actually was, and perhaps see how the situations within the family resolved themselves a little more. The writing style irritated me too. I'm amazed I finished it!

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As you can see, Ruth, most of our members shared your feelings. Sorry, Barnaby. Still, welcome to BGO. Maybe you would like to introduce yourself to all our other members. You can do that here

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Further discussion on The Accidental can be found in the Novels of the 21st Century forum - where there are some positive comments.

 

Edit:

The thread from the 21st Century Fiction forum has now been moved to join the threads here in The Accidental's

sub-forum in the Book Group Archive

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    • By Flingo
      Rescued Thread When Bill has caught up with some things, please can we have the forum for this back, and then get it moved? Cheers!



      Flingo 8th June 2006 11:06 PM

      I thought in Bill's absense we could start a couple of threads about Holes here and have the discussion that so many people are keen to do before we forget what we want to say. It should be able to be moved once the new board is open, shouldn't it?

      So what are people's first impressions? I know some people have finished it - but please remember anyone could call in here, so spoiler if necessary!

      I really enjoyed Holes. My children's librarian mentor has been urging me to read this for ages but I had never got round to it, and am now really disappointed that I left it so long!

      It's really clever, although it takes a bit to understand where all the threads of the story are going.

      The writing is so easy to read, and you feel drawn in almost immediately. I could felt the heat of Camp Green Lake radiating out of the book - a huge acheivement!



      megustaleer 8th June 2006 11:34 PM

      I read it some years ago, and loved it. I really don't know why it has not been a bigger hit as a 'crossover' book. I thought that the way all those plot threads were neatly tied up was just so satisfying, and so clever!

      Have just checked my reading list, and it is six years since I read it, and I can still remember quite a lot of it; it really made an impression!



      katrina 9th June 2006 06:02 PM

      Hey, this is my second read of this book in a year, as I had to read it at the start of my PGCE course, its a really popular keystage 3 yext. I prefered it this time around, the first time I was annoyed by it, but I can't remember why now.

      Thought the writing was good, and the sense of the lake and the heat were well depicted.



      Momo 9th June 2006 06:20 PM

      I can well imagine that it's six years since Meg read it. My oldest son read it when he was a year younger than my youngest one is now and he is five years older. It had just come out otherwise he would have done it earlier as my younger one has.
      Anyway, even though both my boys had read it, I never did so myself. Somehow it always seemed like a book for little boys. So, I was pleasantly surprised when it wasn't that at all. (We even have the DVD and I never watched that either!)
      I will recommend this book to anyone. It's a quick read, yet very interesting and there is a lot in this. More than last month's read.



      katrina 10th June 2006 08:30 AM

      I was wondering if anybody had watched the film version of the book, if I have time this week I'm going to borrow it from school and take a peak at it, I've heard its quite a good adaptation



      Flingo 10th June 2006 10:45 AM

      I picked it up on Wednesday, and will be watching it tomorrow.

      I think we ought to have a thread about the film in this section, so that we can discuss comparisons and similarities? Whoever watches it first can start that!



      megustaleer 16th June 2006 08:56 AM

      belweb says on another thread that she thought the plot was full of holes! I beg to differ! The thing that I like about this book is that there are no 'holes', everything is all neatly sewn up at the end!

      Admittedly a lot of the connections are contrived, but I thought that was part of the humour of the book. My reactions were along the lines of 'Well I Never!! and 'Who'd've Thought It!' , and I thought it was all very cleverly brought to a satisfying (if not necessarily satisfactory) conclusion.

      I wouldn't have accepted the neat conclusion in a serious adult novel, but 'Horses for Courses', eh? And there's plenty of food for thought in there, too.

      The book probably suffered from being read in the middle of reading for an Eng. Lit. degree. I'm sure it wouldn't stand comparison to the other books occupying belwebb's thoughts.



      Momo 16th June 2006 01:45 PM

      I don't know either what kind of holes belwebb saw in this novel. As Meg already mentions, and we all should consider this, this is a children's book. We cannot expect deep meanings that you will only understand after studying English Lit.



      belwebb 16th June 2006 05:28 PM
       
       
       
      Yes, you've made some valid points. However, when you say 'contrived' I think that's the word I should have used - it was incredibly contrived, but then, like you say, I was in the middle of an English lit course!



      elfstar 16th June 2006 06:38 PM

      I enjoyed this book, it had a nice 'roundness' to it,there was no unhappy or unresolvesd ending for the protagonist, the characters were not as deep as they could have been but it is a childrens book and a such it was very acceptable



      donnae 19th June 2006 11:17 PM

      I really enjoyed this book. I loved how the story of the past was neatly interlinked with Stanley's story. Contrived maybe, but very enjoyable still. At least it ties up a lot more ends than last month's read!
       


      As this was a children's story, I liked the manner in which the anti-racialism was dealt with, not too heavy-handed. There were some obvious morals going on in the book, but they didn't overshadow the story.

      There is a sequel to Holes called Small Steps. This follows the lives of Armpit and Xray.

      Holes is a book I will be encouraging my children to read - I think they will all enjoy it. One of my daughters has watched the film and enjoyed it. Flingo, have you watched it yet?



      Adrian 20th June 2006 01:50 AM

      I was thinking the same thing, donnae. It's pretty obvious when you read it.



      megustaleer 20th June 2006 09:34 PM

      Because it is a children's book, and apparantly a straightforward account of Stanley's misadventures, perhaps there is a tendency to whiz through it without picking up the clues?

      Once you know how it all fits together, of course, a lot of it was clearly hinted at in advance.

      Hindsight's a wonderful thing!



      Adrian 20th June 2006 09:52 PM

      I certainly did that, not giving the book its due respect and racing through it. I'll have to re-read it, or maybe listen to the audio version.



      Flingo 23rd June 2006 08:47 PM
       
      I did watch it - though it was really nicely done. Louis Sachar actually wrote the screenplay, which I think helped keeping it true to the book.

      Recommend watching it if you enjoyed the book.
       
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      This is for people who have read just the first few chapters. If you haven't yet, reading the following will be a spoiler.





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