I was granted an e-ARC of The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel by the publisher on NetGalley to provide a fair and honest review.
Emily St. John Mandel’s novel is a fictional story that spans decades as we follow a series of characters trying to live their best life. At the center of all of them is the hotel featured in the title, but the moral of the story is one of redemption and second chances. We see our characters dealing with issues around drugs, relationships, and financial issues. In this review, I won’t be going any deeper into the plot; I will only convey my feelings about the book. Although, I will discuss the writing and the structure of the plot.
Overall, I enjoyed the book, but I did not love it. The best thing about the book was St. John Mandel’s writing. I spent the first quarter of the narrative trying to figure out exactly where the story was going. Who are the characters that matter, and what role do the people we are meeting play in the bigger picture. Around ~a third of the way in, our characters begin to piece together. Although, there is still a mystery as to what the issue of the story is all about. Not much later, that too begins to be revealed, and it becomes a bigger look at the implications.
Up to this point, I was engaged and intrigued at the possibilities that awaited us. Although, intricate story telling can only take you so far. When it finally comes together, it all left me feeling wanting. It was like, this is it? This is what everything lead to? It all felt so mundane and trivial. That is to say, the plot just isn’t compelling. The writing made the story more compelling, but that doesn’t save a boring plot.
The character work is great. The way she tells the story is by focusing on each character and letting the plot form around them. That is, we follow them at different points in there life, in a not entirely linear fashion, and it is on the reader to piece together the bigger picture. The act of discovery is exciting. What’s more, it produces well written characters, and even as the mediocre plot came to an end, the character endings were still satisfying. That doesn’t stop there being a disconnect between interesting character stories and a cohesive and compelling story at large.
I go a bit more in depth in my Vlog (post at the top), so you can watch that if you would like more details. Although, that is mostly repeating what I have said here, and the spoilers are mostly contained to a couple minutes. As I said at the start, I enjoyed reading this. I still can’t say it was worth it though. My enjoyment of parts was outweighed by my being bored by the overarching narrative. 3.5/5 stars.
|Rating Break Down|
Writing Style: 8/10, Plot: 6/10, Characters: 9/10, Ending: 10/10, Engagement: 8/10, Enjoyment: 7/10, Comprehension: 8/10, Pacing: 8/10, Desire to Reread: 0/10, Special: 3/10, Calculated Rating: 3.49/5, Final Rating: 3.5/5
Note, each rating is weighted based on personal importance to calculate a final score that is rounded to the nearest half.