Thursday, May 17, 2012
As I understand it, The 19th Wife came out in the heyday of the Warren Jeffs scandal- supremely good timing on the publishers part. While I wasn't aware of the book then, I did discover it fairly recently on my local library's over drive site on their most popularly checked out list. During Warren Jeff's recent trial, I'd start my mornings working out, untangling a skein of yarn, and watching it on the TV. I had previously read When Men Become Gods, so I had a bit of a background on the subject.
From the description of The 19th Wife, I thought I was in for another thrilling story. I was intrigued by the concept of the intertwining stories, and though it would prove to be less of an autopilot, fluffy read.
I was wrong.
This book was not enjoyable. While the author did an excellent job of developing a concept, his execution was absolutely terrible. I felt myself wanting to skip over large sections of text. Initially, his writing style in the Ann Eliza Young sections were extremely dull and pedantic, but eventually flowed into the dominant story, and greatly improved in terms of flow. However, the second, modern day story floundered from the beginning. While I understand that he chose to alter his writing style to suit a boy with minimal education and support, the writing was excruciating to read. Even the concept of a murder mystery didn't save me- I simply could not invest in the characters. None had significant personalities, and the many felt like shells of a persona. Johnny in particular grated on my nerves, as he was the stereotypical street kid with zero likeability. Jordan was similarly unlikeable, especially in his treatment of those he supposedly cares for.
On top of the pathetic characters, the dialogue was poorly written at best- I simply couldn't imagine anyone speaking the way that he described. It was just a thoroughly unpleasant experience. The ending was unsatisfying at best. The only sense of satisfaction I got was that I had finally finished the horrible book.
I was just so disappointed in this because it had so much potential. The poor execution unfortunately killed any enjoyment I might have found in it. Definitely a waste of time. I think, if anyone wants to read more on the topic, they'd benefit more by reading an actual account of either life under Warren Jeffs, or the life of Ann Eliza Young, rather than this poorly written fiction.