Review #52: Atonement by Ian McEwan
Hey Guys x
It's finally that time of year when I can review books for pleasure again! I usually stop reviewing during uni because the books that I'm reading are literary and critical, and I have to focus on writing essays about them rather than reviews. Thankfully, for this one, I can do both!
This book is about a girl called Briony Tallis, her sister Cecilia and Robbie Turner, their family friend. The lives of these three people are changed forever, when 13 year old Briony sees something that she doesn't understand. Her mind can't comprehend the events of the day, and rather than thinking rationally, she accuses an innocent man of the worst crime possible. Her accusation sets into a motion a chain of events that Briony spends the rest of her life trying to atone for.
I saw the movie version of this before the book, so I knew pretty much what to expect from beginning to end.
I thought this book, the story, the entire concept, was amazing! You don't really think about the way that a throwaway comment, or something more substantial than that, can completely change someone's life as well as your own.
I loved the fact that you don't have to like the characters to feel invested in the story. For example, without spoiling anything, I'm not a huge fan of Briony Tallis as a person, but that doesn't stop me from feeling sympathy for her at times, and wanting her life to turn out well.
But a character that I did truly love was Robbie Turner. There's something inspiring about a boy from a poorer family who was able to make it to Cambridge and have a really good, successful life. Well, to a point. I think a lot of the book depends on how the reader relates to Robbie. If you don't care about him, then you don't care about anything in the book.
For me, the most interesting thing about this book is the debate that it sparks - mainly whether or not Briony was truly able to atone for the mistakes that she made. For me, I honestly haven't decided if I believe that she has atoned - but for the most part I don't. There was too much avoidance in my opinion. She didn't do enough to truly atone.
What was good?
There was no indifference. There weren't events in the story that I didn't feel some way about, and I think that's a credit to the writer Ian McEwan, who was able to create events that you have to care about in such a thought-provoking way.
What was bad?
Before buying the book, I read the 1-star reviews on Amazon (which I do when I buy anything!) and saw that people who didn't like it didn't because they thought that there was too much description and everything was a bit long-winded. I can definitely see this, especially when you're comparing it to the movie. Things that took two seconds in the movie played out over 200 pages in the book.
I'd definitely tell everyone to read this book, and to watch the film. It's entertaining enough to read for pleasure, but it's also literary enough to really impress your teachers when you go back to school after the summer holidays!