Monday, January 23, 2012

Kelly's Review of "Year of Wonders" by Geraldine Brooks

Title: Year of Wonders
Author: Geraldine Brooks
Published: Penguin, 2001

Book reviewers I trust had ranted about this book for a long time, and I figured I should check it out. Heck, it's #19 on the Best Historical Fiction list on goodreads. It's historical fiction, about the plague, and set in England, what's not for me to like?

The book is about a young woman named Anna living in a small village in England, that through unfortunate events, is diseased with plague in 1666. As death reaches into every household, the lives and relationships of the villagers are changed forever, leading to extreme actions and disastrous endings. Sound pretty epic to me.

That being said...I really wanted to like this book. The overall plot is an interesting and novel idea...but it was just written to be too boring for me. Even when exciting and unexpected things do happen, it was written in a very bland way. It was one of those "Wait, did something happen? Oh, someone died in a horrific way? How did I miss that?" moments . OK, this sounds a little seedy, but I was also expecting it to be more graphic and...well, gross. Based on some reviews I read, I was expecting to have to carry a trashcan around with me to throw up in. Yeah, that didn't happen. The Plague was anything but simple or skimpy on details, why make the book like that?

Even with the not so great writing, I still would have given it a higher rating if it hadn't been for the ending. Out of nowhere it turned into some sort of 21st century Hollywood movie with action, sex, and scandal...but not in a good way. It was almost as if the author was getting bored with her own story, and to save it, scribbled down some strange climax at the last moment. It was so out of place and almost unnecessary.

It was still a decent book, just a little disappointing. 2 stars.

[Note: this review is over two years old, I pulled it out of the archives of my personal blog. Looking at the goodreads list, I see it is now #31! Apparently people agree with me.]


  1. I read this one a few years ago and really liked it. I felt like I got a sense of the experience and I liked the main character.

  2. I totally agree about the ending. I was like WTF. It was out of nowhere.

  3. I remember reading this a long time ago and loving it. I don't remember the ending....I'll have to go read that again. I love historical fiction, and I learned a lot about that period of time.

  4. But it sounds so interesting! I am a Brooks fan, so I would be disappointed if this one turned out a bit rubbish.

  5. YES this ending was insane. But I loved all the creepy plague stuff.

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  7. I've read two book by Geraldine Brooks - March and Caleb's Crossing - and loved both. I've heard many, many good things about Year of Wonders and People of the Book.

  8. IngridLola: I recently read People of the Book and absolutely loved it! I guess this one just didn't click for me.

  9. Oh my word, you are right about the ending. I enjoyed the book, sort of, but that ending. Come on now.

  10. I love Geraldine Brooks, especially The Nine Parts of Desire (non-fiction) and March, which chronicles the pre-war and war experiences of Mr. March, the father of the March girls in Alcott's Little Women. Brooks is such an amazing writer, and I'm excited to see if this book holds up. I'll keep an eye out for the bizarre ending.


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