Reviews

We, the Drowned, by Carsten Jensen

neven's review against another edition

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5.0

A dense, sprawling, layered masterpiece—but always fun to read.

sdebner's review against another edition

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I was really enjoying this saga, but then had to put it down to read other things. When I came back to it, I couldn't get back into it, alas.

thrashmasterbex's review against another edition

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1.0

I’m sure that this is a great book and I would have been ok with the odd choice of the invisible ever-changing narrator but I just read a detailed description of a bunch of schoolboys taking the dog of their hated teacher for a run and then throwing him over a cliff, and the care that the writer took to show this chubby little dog having so much fun going with these boys and his happy face when they join him at the cliff-bottom like they are going to help fix his broken back just really bothered me. I’m not reading any farther.

elaines117's review against another edition

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5.0

I loved it. It was epicly long, but I will read it again and again.

willce's review against another edition

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adventurous emotional inspiring reflective slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.0

laura_trap's review against another edition

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5.0

This book was...epic. I'm still drowning in the emotions of it hours later after. I'm still reeling. This book has everything: seafaring adventures, love, death, war, insanity, tall tales. I really enjoyed the subtle weaving in of other, classical seafaring stories: the Odyssey, Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, Moby-Dick by Herman Melville. The whole world revolved with Marstal, Denmark, and for me, this small island has made a home in my heart. I cannot say I was pleased with the ending, as I did not want to stop reading this hauntingly powerful story. Each word drew me in, until I was drowning in them. At times I felt as if I was flotsam, floating helplessly along the current of this story, too massive and too inspiring to do anything but flow with it.

pamelas's review against another edition

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5.0

In We, The Drowned, Carsten Jensen proves himself a masterful story teller. In one book, I could easily picture cannibalistic natives chasing a boat through the surf, a couple sitting in a back garden of a Danish shipping town or sailors on a ship being bombed by Germans in World War 2. For some reason, the first scene did not grab my attention, but it was not indicative of the book as a whole. The characters were well-drawn, the scenes vivid, the events riveting and surprising, sometimes with good surprises and sometimes not so good. I enjoyed learning about a place and time in history I knew little about. All in all,a good story.

the_only_red_thistle's review against another edition

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adventurous dark lighthearted slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character

4.75

mirificmoxie's review against another edition

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1.0

1 Star

This review contains some spoilers.

We, the Drowned caught my eye at the library because of its gorgeous cover. The description of epic adventure on the high seas sounded awesome. The first page caught my attention, and I initially thought the writing was lyrical.

So what happened? Why did it take me three full months to read this book?

I'll give the short version. Frankly, I spent too damn long struggling to get through this book to spend time writing a review. I don't hate it passionately enough to rant about it, but I should not have bothered to finish reading this. The problem was that I had already put so much time into reading it, that it felt more wasteful to stop. And people said the ending was [supposedly] amazing and emotional. So I trudged through all 688 pages.

Despite the poetic writing, I failed to connect with any of the characters. They all seemed to turn nasty and abusive. The adventure petered out in the first quarter of the book. From there it was just a looooooooooooong, drawn-out drama with little to no plot. It was as if the story ran aground a quarter of the way in, but the author kept waving the rigging about to try to trick you into thinking the ship was still moving.

What was the point? It seems to be best summed up in this quote:
"You died in the end, but you fought first."
And that is pretty much how it went. We, the Drowned follows multiple generations who all have unhappy lives which turns them into nasty people. And then they die. I could see where the author was trying to go with the ending, but it just did not work for me. There were moments when it bordered Magical Realism, but it failed to deliver on that front as well. Then there was the way the tense switched back and forth: first person, first person plural with an undisclosed narrator, third person... it was a mess.

Worst of all, interspersing the poetic writing were crude and vulgar moments. Often times it was not the words or acts themselves that were most off-putting but the matter-of-fact way that they were presented. It was very "life is brutal; that's just how it is." But in addition to those blasé moments where violence was so casually mentioned, there were also moments when the writing reveled in its darkness and avidly described gruesome acts. The most memorable of those was the vivid, detailed description of some kids brutally torturing and killing someone's dog. There were also at least two rapes, both of which everyone knew about but no one did anything about because well, these things just happen. It was gruesome and depressing. No amount of pretty writing could make up for how low this book left me feeling. In the end, I could not have cared less what happened to any of the characters. I just wanted it to be over.

Sadly, the cover is the best thing about this book. I would not recommend it to anyone. That is not to say that people won't like this book, because the high ratings indicate that lots of people did. But I could not recommend something that was such a struggle to finish.


RATING FACTORS:
Ease of Reading: 1 Star
Writing Style: 2 Stars
Characters and Character Development: 1 Star
Plot Structure and Development: 1 Star
Level of Captivation: 1 Star
Originality: 1 Star

allyfarstad's review against another edition

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emotional reflective slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

3.25