03/09/12 - Book review: 'Adverbs' by Daniel Handler.

This is my first book review, so be kind!  I want to use this aspect of my blog to share the books I am reading for pleasure - the number will dwindle significantly once the daily grind of university starts up again - and I might mention my course books as well, if any take me by surprise and are really good which a few of them have over the past two years.

This first book is one that I got for my birthday in July.  It wasn't actually one that I asked for - I didn't even realise this existed when I asked for another book by the same author which it turned out wasn't being released until mid-August (I have it now, and might review it if it's any good).  So my parents got me this to tide me over and a very good decision it was too!

Now, if any of you are thinking the name 'Daniel Handler' is ringing a bell, you may well be right.  However, his most famous work was published under the pen name Lemony Snicket.  Yeah!  The Series of Unfortunate Events guy!  My mind was a tad blown, and it may be the main reason that I took an interest in his books in the first place.  And I wasn't disappointed. Adverbs is a love story, or more like a series of love stories, and therefore obviously a very different entity to the thirteen volumes of a wonderfully bizarre children's story.  But something in the style of the writing and the complex interwoven plots of the characters is reminiscent of his previous writing that I'm familiar with.

A quote from the book which is used in the blurb to describe the concept is one that I personally really enjoyed - "It is not the nouns.  The miracle is the adverbs, the way things are done."  When you think about it, it's so true.  The same sentence can be said in two very different ways and mean totally different things.  People overlook the importance of adverbs and define things by nouns and verbs.  Each chapter of the book is entitled with a different adverb - "Immediately", "Frigidly", "Symbolically" and "Not Particularly" to name a few - and in many ways, each chapter is like a story in itself.  It's very difficult to tell if the characters in these stories are actually interlinked or whether it is all supposed to be a coincidence; a name - Allison, for example - will appear over the course of two or three chapters, but it is never made clear if one Allison is the same person as the other Allisons or not.  There are a few repeating themes and ideas, which served to cause even more confusion in my little mind.  There are suggestions made which could easily be metaphors for some larger idea, but equally could be exactly as they appear.  However, once you stop flicking backwards and forwards between chapters, trying to form links between this Allison and that, it becomes a really interesting look at the different forms and shapes love can take. That would be my advice to anyone reading this book: just enjoy it.  Let the words and characters and ideas wash over you without trying to analyse them too closely.  You'll just get a headache.

Personally, I would recommend this book as a quirky and unique take on the classic idea of what a love story entails.  I intend to read it again and see if I can get my head around it any more, although that will happen way off in the future somewhere when dissertations are a thing of the past.  

Have you read anything by Daniel Handler, and what did you think?  Do you have any book recommendations for me?  Leave them in the comments!