Thursday, October 15, 2015

Review: House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

Title: House of Leaves
Author: Mark Z. Danielewski
Published by: Pantheon Books
Released: 2000
Summary: (In which I try to explain as much as possible without taking up half a page.) Johnny Truant and his friend Lude discover the corpse of an old man named Zampano. While searching through his house and getting rid of things for the next tenant, Johnny discovers a chest containing Zampano's work on the House of Leaves. Johnny decides to put all his notes together and publish Zampano's book. House of Leaves deals with the Navidson family, who live in a house that is bigger on the inside than on the outside. Rooms appear with no warning, leading into dark, cold, never-ending passageways. The Navidson's discover that something lives in their house, something that's the opposite of a good and gentle spirit.
Through Johnny, the reader witnesses the Horror of House of Leaves and just what it does to all who dare to peruse the pages.
My Thoughts: I'd been interested in this book for quite awhile. So many people love this book, there is even a cult following around it. The story sounded cool and the style of the book really interested me. I decided to request it from my library and wah lah, there it was in my hands. I just want to stress that all my reviews are 100% my honest opinion. Just because my thoughts differ from yours, doesn't mean you shouldn't give every book a chance. My thoughts on House of Leaves...what a disappointment. I didn't like it.
The style of the book was not fun to read. It was almost set up like a scholarly research book that had lots and lots of footnotes. The order to read those footnotes could sometimes get confusing. The style was also aggravating in writing words backwards, upside down, or in swirls. It was a chore to read this book.
I also didn't like the scholarly feel to the work. I don't read scholarly articles for fun, because I don't enjoy reading them. Also the amount of tangents and straying from the real story was ridiculous, not fun. Sometimes I almost forgot the real story I was reading after reading pages and pages on echoes or architecture. I also didn't understand Johnny Truant's descent into madness. He seemed pretty messed up from the beginning, so I never really got his train of thought, or how in the end he was that different then how he was in the beginning.
I also didn't enjoy some of the author's overly hard vocabulary. He would use words that no one ever says or hears, and not provide the sentence context to figure it out for yourself. And I didn't feel like turning to a dictionary.
As a possible pro, I found the overall story and idea of the Navidson house very interesting. If it had been just a novel of the Navidson's first hand exploration of the house, or Johnny discovering and reading Navidson's journal, it would have been a much more entertaining read.
In the end House of Leaves was not for me. Although it had a cool premise; the aggravating style, tangents to nowhere, no real clear ending for Johnny, just left me with no real love for the book. There were even times where I felt like banging my head against the book and feeling like it was never going to end. I didn't enjoy the experience of reading this book at all.
Aggravated and Unimpressed.

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