The hype surrounding this book is undeniable. If you had asked me what book on my unread shelf would get five stars, I would’ve predicted, without a doubt, Little Fires Everywhere. See, while hype can be a great motivator to read a certain book, it can also set your expectations too high. There is not one book that will get five stars from everyone, nor is there an objectively phenomenal book.
For the majority of this book I didn’t plan on rating it, much less review it. Quite frankly, I was disappointed, but I also recognized I set myself up with unrealistic expectations. That’s not the book’s fault, and clearly everyone else recognized and understood something within these pages that I could not, however hard I tried. But then the ending came, and part of me understood what was impacting everyone. It definitely has a jarring ending I still think and wonder about.
However, I can’t deny that for the majority of this novel I kept wondering: What’s the point? If there hadn’t been so much buzz, if I hadn’t wanted to delve in deeper just so that I could discover what everyone else loved so much, I probably would’ve DNF’d it. I mean, it’s an incredibly slow-moving book. Where some readers have said they couldn’t put it down, or were hanging onto each sentence, I felt like I was forcing my way forward. It felt like so many conversations were started, that we were constantly being set up for something grander, only for the real action to take place in the last ten pages.
Another thing many are saying, is that the characters are extraordinarily vivid. To me, they were pretty two-dimension with each having a couple of traits as their personality. Perhaps the most developed character for me was Mrs. Richardson. This could be a result of most of the novel being written in summary. There isn’t a lot of dialogue or scenes where characters interact. Rather, it’s told in an omnipresent narration in what feels like an expository format. I’m the type of reader that can’t connect to characters that way; it feels too detached, like one of the fables you get told as a kid. Something you know has a valuable lesson at its core, but not something you develop feelings for. Again, that’s personal preference, and not an indication of a bad story.
Overall, I’m sad I didn’t love this as much as everyone else has, but I’m so glad it has an audience.