After a string of some really good reads thru mid/late summer, I seemed to have run into a bit of a rut. While the more recent books have been "good," they just haven't been dazzling me (with one exception, The Submission). Honestly, I don't know if it is the books or just my frame of mind (not that I feel particularly out of sorts), but just seem to be a cranky reading rater of late.
I thought I might jump-start some quality reading again with Justin Torres' debut novel, We The Animals. The buzz on it was really good and as a 140-ish page novella, I thought it would be something quick to get me back on track.
And after reading the opening chapter, I had the feeling that I was indeed in for something really special. It has the groove and rhythm of a poetry slam, really fresh and like nothing I had read before.
The novel(la) is a coming-of-age story of three bi-racial brothers told through the eyes of one of them (and, from what I have read since, it is largely autobiographical) in vignettes from this very dysfunctional family. It was powerful, moving, disturbing and even funny throughout... but ... and here we go again, it just fizzled out as it went along. There is a bit of jolt at the end, where the story advances many years... and many of my fellow Goodreads reviewers found to be quite abrupt/out of left field, but for me it provided enough of a wake-up call to bump my final rating up a half-star, giving it 3.5 stars, though I rounded it back down to 3 for Goodreads.
Borrowing a page from reality singing shows, I'd say Torres didn't blow me away and is a bit rough, but he has obvious and raw talent, an interesting quality, and shows great potential. So if this were the auditions or "Hollywood Week/Bootcamp", I'd advance him to the next round... so definitely worth another look at his next work.