Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Meaning of Night by Michael Cox

First, let me give a very public "Atta girl!" to Kristin.  She finished the book with time to spare (That's a big deal for Kristin.  She's super busy and stuff.  Go ahead and do a quick happy dance with her.) 

On to the book.  It was our first thriller, and could best be described as "Victorian Noir."  It's written as a confession, so you spend the entire book inside one character's head.  As the book progresses, you're able to make more sense of what that character is like, and in turn, that knowledge changes how you view the supporting characters.  This is what I mean:  Have you ever had a friend who exaggerates, and who usually views himself as completely innocent in every situation?  That's the frame of the main character.  So later in the book, when he's talking about how horribly unjust something is, or how terrible someone used to treat him, I gave those comments less weight because I had more insight on his character.  I found that phenomenon interesting.

At the end of the day, we thought the book could have been a few hundred pages shorter and still included all the details it needed to work.  (Translation:  it gets pretty slow at times.)  But I think we enjoyed it.  Our conversation centered on the topics of justice, revenge, parental influence, self-centeredness, betrayal, and guilt. 

Speaking of guilt, here's the thing we found most interesting about Cox's book.  It opens with the murder of an innocent man.  The main character then goes on a reminiscent journey to fill you in on all the factors leading up to that moment. Those factors and paths consume all the primary characters.  The protagonist doesn't regret any of it.  But at the very end, he admits that he feels guilt over the murder of that innocent man.  It makes me wonder of that guilt was why he wrote the confession in the first place?  Not just to share his story, but to absolve for the one crime he truly regretted.  (That's a bonus thought for you).

Paige Turners, what do you think?