Oh my God, this book. This book.
Listen, I’ll give you the long version in about a moment here, but hear me out: all this could be condensed in a tiny little statement, drop everything you’re doing and start flipping pages right now.
…Yes, it’s that good.
First thing first, the cover:
It’s elegant, it’s tasteful, it’s Jazz-y and it gives out the right vibes – it already gets you in the mood, I mean. The cover and the font (look at the font! My typography-loving heart is swelling) caught my eye on Edelweiss, then the blurb reeled me in.
“The Wasteland is the untold story of T.S. Eliot, his secret struggle with being gay, the people left in the wake of his meteoric career trajectory, and the madness that helped produce his greatest work.“
LGBT, historical and fictionalized biography? All my boxes checked at once.
- I’m not one who doles out praises when they’re not 100% deserved, okay? Rather, it’s easier for me to nitpick something to hell and back. I know what I like, I know what I don’t like and I’ll tell you. In great detail and with dramatic gestures to drive the point home.
That’s why when I say ‘good Lord, the writing style of The Wasteland is incredible‘, I’m not just saying. I really mean it, because the writing style IS incredible. It’s a mix of poetry and prose, it rhymes in places, it uses clever analogies and idioms. It makes you soar and then drags you to rock bottom a moment later. HJ, I commend you: well done!
Also, I wish I had like, 1/5 of your technical skills.
- Characterization. Again, it takes a whole lot of talent to make me empathize with characters, a talent that HJ def possesses: I hated Mr. Eliot and shaked my fists at many of his choices, I cheered for Jack until the very last page and I watched the slo-mo trainwreck of Mr. Eliot and Vivien’s marriage, disintegrating together with their… sanity? Humanity? Both? Either way, su-perb.
- Oh, the characters. Each of them is well-thought out and crafted, with an unique voice. Even the minor ones stand out. I could picture them all in my head, populating the Roaring London and giving it life – not color, tho. For some reason, my Wasteland London has the same colors of V for Vendetta. Don’t ask, I don’t know either.
My favorite character, by the way? Hemingway. His cynicism is awesome, I wish he had more page time.
- The only criticism I can move to HJ is the omniscient narrator voice. I know, I know, but the third limited pov is my hill and I will die on it. It’s well done, less obtrusive than the average switch I encounter every day but still, not something I like. All things considered tho, it’s a very small objection.
9,5/10 stars here and a round 5 on GoodReads. Well done, HJ. All your other books are going in my TBR list and I will keep an eye on your future endeavors. Bravo!