I was sent this book by the author in return for a full and honest review. This did not affect my thoughts about the book.
I have never read a “magical realism” book before, even though it totally seems up my ally. Did this book give me more interest in the genre? Let’s find out!
Fielding Bliss has never forgotten the summer of 1984: the year a heat wave scorched Breathed, Ohio. The year he became friends with the devil.
Sal seems to appear out of nowhere – a bruised and tattered thirteen-year-old boy claiming to be the devil himself answering an invitation. Fielding Bliss, the son of a local prosecutor, brings him home where he’s welcomed into the Bliss family, assuming he’s a runaway from a nearby farm town.
Rated : PG 13 – Some language, intense scenes, and racial slurs. TRIGGER WARNING – ABUSE, RACIAL SLURS, AND SUICIDE.
Length : 320 pages
Publication date – July 26, 2016
- In my review of Backwoods Ripper by Anna Willett (see HERE), my biggest issue with the book was that it seemed to take a lot of inspiration from Misery by Stephen King. I had similar feelings about this book, but it actually made me like it more, instead of less. The book I think this took inspiration from was To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Collins, along with many others. I especially saw the similarities between Attitcus Finch and Autopsy Bliss (the fathers in both). Maybe this raised the standard of the book for me because I loved both of those characters (let’s be fair, I’m allowed to be biased), but I really think it was because both characters were essential to the plots of their respective books and were done well.
- The setting was awesome. It was set in the 1980’s, but sometimes I felt it was set even before then, due to the fact that our characters live in a small, rural town. I think this was a really realistic take on these small towns, due to the fact that they often grow with the times slower than bigger cities.
- I was first put off by some of the characters, because I felt they were given quirks just for the sake of standing out among the rest, but as the story went on I really grew to love them. I feel like these oddities that seem to follow around every character (a little person who fixes roofs, or a woman who refuses to go outside due to fear of the rain, for example) were actually there, to make the character growth seem even more dramatic, and I’m not mad about it.
- Every once in awhile, there would be something said that I found incredibly profound. It actually took me a while to get through this book because I found myself having to actually put it down, and really think about what I just read.
- Some important themes like race, mental illness, and sexuality appeared, in this book, and I was really pleasantly surprised by that and how it was handled.
The Meh :
- As you could probably guess from the synopsis, a major theme in this book is religion. I can’t say it was addressed poorly, by any means, but I’m just kind of tired of seeing religion being portrayed this way, in books. I can’t really go into much detail, in fear of spoiling anything, but I think I’m going to have a whole discussion about this, on my Youtube Channel.
- This book jumps between two time periods, 1984 and present day, where we follow the main character in his adolescence and when he is around seventy, looking back on his life. I really could have done without the present day section, in fact, I wish it was omitted completely. I understand it was there to show the impact the summer of ’84 had on him, but I wish it had been left up to interpretation.
The Bad :
- The only thing I had a real issue with in the book, was that writing took me a LONG time to get used to. I can’t really place my finger on what bothered me so much about it, but I actually considered putting it down more than once, in the first 20 pages or so.
- STORY – 4.5/5 (I really enjoyed reading about when the main character was a child, but was much less interested in him as an adult. I didn’t need to learn what came of him after, and wish it was left up to interpretation.)
- CHARACTERS – 5/5 (At first I thought they were hokey, but as I read I realized their quirks had purpose.)
- WRITING – 4.5/5 (Took me a while to get into the groove of the writing. )
- UNIQUENESS – 5/5 (Although obviously inspired by many books, the story was still its own.)
ALL IN ALL, I GIVE THIS 4.75 ODDLY COLORED SHOELACES OUT OF 5!
Have you read this book? What did you think about it? What is your favorite classic? I’d love to know!
Thanks for reading!
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