The Bookstore by Deborah Meyler | Book Review

the bookstore by deborah meyler [book review]

I hated this book. I’m not usually one to be that blunt, but with a novel this horrible, there isn’t much point beating around the bush.

There was not a single character that I found compelling or interesting, or even likeable. While I don’t make judgments on a novel based on whether or not I like a character, the characters do have to be somewhat sympathetic or go through character development. No character in this novel went through any character development whatsoever.

The supposedly “quirky” characters at the bookstore did absolutely nothing for me. While the back cover of the novel promised interesting and colourful customers and employees of the store, what the reader was presented with were customers who homeless, gritty and going through hardened times. The employees were so bland, with names so similar to each other and personalities so unremarkable that I found myself melding them together in my mind into one amorphous blob.

I found the main character, Esme, to be unbelievably naive, pretentious and most of the time, completely ridiculous. While I respected her decision to have the baby and raise it on her own, I immediately lost all respect when she ran straight into the arms of her horrific beau, Mitchell.

The majority of my time spent reading was merely a waiting game to see when Mitchell would inevitably turn on Esme. It was predictable, and yet, done so poorly. One minute, Mitchell is opening up to Esme, telling her his “deep dark secrets” and a couple of pages later he’s telling her the “spell has worn off”. It was so predictable and yet the dialogue was so ridiculous that I found myself laughing. Mitchell had such potential to be a viable villain or adversary but he was written so dreadfully that I found it implausible.

The writing style did absolutely nothing for me. The dialogue seemed false. Everything was said very formally, not conversationally at all. And it seemed so forced that it pulled me out of the story whenever anyone spoke. The only bright spot of the writing was the descriptions of New York – the streets, the stores, the city covered in snow. It romanticized it, and I ate that up. There’s no city I love more than Vancouver, but New York comes very close.

Other than those descriptions, the exposition was wishy-washy. Mostly because I disliked Esme so viscerally that any time spent in her head was unpleasant.

I had such high hopes for this novel when I picked it off the shelf, the back cover sounded right up my alley, but I ended up hating it more than I’ve hated any novel in years.

I very nearly put it down multiple times to stop reading it, but I ended up pushing through. I almost wish I hadn’t.

I would not recommend it to anyone. Save yourself and pick something else up!


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