Monday, July 4, 2011

Reflections: The Beetle

Adam C. Zern shares his thoughts on Richard Marsh's strange tale - The Beetle:

"The Beetle is an exceptionally strange book; at least, it is for a while.  As you continue to read, the weird and bizarre feeling diminishes as you learn more about the 'beetle' and the various odd occurrences surrounding its presence.  Yet, when the book finishes, you are still left with very little information regarding what it all means; in fact, the ending of the book is, in my opinion, a total let down and a sad disappointment.

I heard about The Beetle from fellow Thousander Cortney Howes.  She had to read it for a school assignment and knowing I was a huge fan of Frankenstein, she recommended The Beetle.  It definitely has the horror/eerie feeling that was common among books of its kind (it was a contemporary of Bram Stoker's Dracula and initially outsold Stoker's now famous book).  Some parts of the book are truly unsettling.  The writing is excellent; the dialogue is wonderfully expressive of the individual characters; the commentaries and asides about human nature, existence, and the beyond are thought-provoking; in other words, it's not modern fiction.

It has some very distinct strengths - absolutely.  But the choice of narrative that Richard Marsh chooses I think hurts the flow of the book.  The story is told from several different characters' perspectives and they often overlap when discussing events, but each character is able to provide new and additional details to those events.  The narrative structure seems to drag the story down, however.  There were several times in which I felt like I read quite a bit and hadn't really gotten that much farther in the story.  Also, the reader understands the creepiness of the 'beetle' almost from the start of the book, but we don't really understand how dangerous the 'beetle' is until far too late in the book.  It missed some perfect moments of suspense because of this.

The Beetle is well-written, but it's not a great book.  If someone were to ask me what book to read that is within the vein of The Beetle, I would recommend Frankenstein.  I enjoyed it, but I didn't love it."

1 comment:

  1. I followed an interesting discussion on reading the other day. The question: What book did you hate when you were supposed to love it because everyone said that you would? It was so funny to hear different people hate and love the exact same book. What is the secret to a great classic?