I was doing such a good job keeping up with these book posts this year, but suddenly I find myself behind by 3! Granted I was a bit slow with reading this one... then read a quick palate cleanser, followed that with a Kindle single short-story that took about a day... and currently plowing through a YA (young-adult) book... so guess next book should be a longer, slower one, ha!
So as just mentioned,this one was a bit of a slow one and, to be honest, I wasn't sure I was going to make it through Lauren Groff's Arcadia!
This was a bit surprising as I had fairly high expectations going in given the buzz for this novel and partly due to her well-lauded debut novel, The Monsters of Templeton (which never quite made it off my to-be-read list). But Arcadia just wasn't doing it for me. I am just a half-generation-ish too young to have any kind of nostalgia (or disdain) for the 1960s commune scene and the opening section featuring a child narrator is always a dicey proposition. I had this nagging feeling that I should be liking this book, but just was not. I had trouble keeping tabs on all the characters and there was too much peripheral noise that could not get me/keep me focused. Granted my "real" life at the time was a bit unfocused and I couldn't get in good reading chunks, so I was fearing it just might have been a potential "right" book at a wrong time in my day-to-day life.
But alas I did make it through, as Groff thankfully provided a re-set button of sorts with each of Arcadia's four sections. So while not much of a fan of the commune-centric first half of the novel, I found it just got better and better as it went along. This wild and crazy story turned in on itself, getting richer and more contemplative.
In retrospect, I am guessing this purposely done as the novel does explore continuum... from utopian to mildly dystopian, from the past to the future, from life to death, from loud and reactive to quiet and reflective. I can add my own Arcadia reading experience to that list... from a good, but honestly bordering on "just okay" 2-star of a start to an emotional 5-star ending. So that averages out to one of my typical bet-hedging 3.5 stars, but I'll round it up for an "official" 4-stars given more weight to the end than the beginning and an appreciation for what I think Groff was doing the whole time along, even if I didn't much like it at the time.