Reviews tagging Abandonment

Piranesi, by Susanna Clarke

18 reviews

nickel_'s review

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adventurous challenging mysterious slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.75


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k_aro's review

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

5.0

Honestly, on some level I feel a little guilty giving this so languidly a 5-star review; it's not really the kind of book that exists for stars or whatever, but I still feel like it'd be a loss to not talk about it as such.

What an incredible book! I love slow explorations of a space, and this felt so widely built (even though there's still so much left unsaid and basically left up to interpretation) that it felt fulfilling even if not all the answers were stated. I guess it kind of reminds me of that encyclopedia full of stuff that doesn't exist that's supposed to replicate the feeling of looking through an encyclopedia as a kid for the first time.

The tension is also nicely built, and it doesn't really concern itself with three-way twists and distracting flashes, just a really nice story that follows through in its soft magic systems on what it talks about.

I also enjoyed the occasional flashes of second-person narration; that said, I'm kind of just in love with second-person narration as a device, so I'm super biased in this regard (the other 5* review I have up is for a largely second-person narrated memoir!)

SpoilerWhile I'm a little unsatisfied by the unspecificity of why Ketterley did what he did, I think to some level that's not "the point" (so to speak)—he's so obsessed with something that is functionally dead that rationality is truly, on some level, false.

Anyway, I'd also like to take a little bit to talk about the lovely meditation on death and obsessions with death, not just in regards to dead people but to dead ideas, concepts, language, etc. So much of our life is living, breathing, that when something dies it inevitably takes up space; but as Ketterley demonstrates, this obsession with death is actually something quite grotesque, demanding answers out of something that has already departed this world.

Of course, that's neither here nor there; Arne-Sayles is also pretty interesting in his own right, though I'm not really sure I like how his gayness is positioned as just part of him being transgressive, but I also think I like it? I don't know, I guess it kind of evokes questions about the transgressiveness of being queer in general, or maybe transgressiveness as a whole (maybe even hearkening back to that one Carmen Maria Machado essay about being queer and fat). He's definitely an interesting character!

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tiredtori's review against another edition

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adventurous emotional hopeful inspiring mysterious reflective relaxing medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

5.0


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tamara_joy's review

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adventurous mysterious slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

5.0

Such a sense of place, you can just feel the marble and the waves.  I never knew what to expect or where it was going. Totally unique book.

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nikenacs's review against another edition

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

5.0

[Book club - December 2021]
The most five-star-y five-star book I read this year (sorry, Song of Achilles). I could talk about it for two hours (and I did, in book club) and still not mention everything about it that I liked. 

Piranesi is a mystery, a puzzle box waiting to be solved, but unfortunately your narrator has no idea the puzzle even exists. It takes the term "unreliable narrator" to a whole other level. The reader constantly knows way more than the main character, even though he is our only way of knowing things in the first place. It fascinated and engaged me like few books before. 

Piranesi is a drop-dead gorgeous experience even apart from the mystery. Susanna Clarke's world feels incredibly tangible and lived-in (even though so very few people live in it). The House and its Statues will live in my mind rent-free for quite a while. 

But above all, and at the risk of sounding incredibly cliché, Piranesi is an exercise in humanity. It is, fundamentally, a book about what makes a person human and what makes society tick (even if that society consist of one guy, his distant colleague, a few dead bodies and a whole lot of birds and statues). Piranesi's caregiving, his rituals, his morality, his near-religious interpretation of his World, his refusal to harm even his supposed enemy, and, in the end,
Spoilerhis desire for community over comfort - even being stripped of almost all personal identity,
he still remains the most human(e) character of all. 

Susanna Clarke, I will sell my soul to you. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norell has already moved in on my To Read shelf. Thank you for this absolute gem of a novel.

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thestarfly's review

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

5.0


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claudiamacpherson's review against another edition

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adventurous hopeful mysterious reflective tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

I’ve always said that I like happy endings, and happy stories in general, but that’s not it exactly. Rather, I like my stories hopeful—if the overall message is about how sad and pointless life is, I absolutely do not want it. The premise of Piranesi is pretty bleak, and I would argue that it fits firmly in the category of dark academia, but Piranesi is one of the most stunningly kind and hopeful characters I have ever had the pleasure to read about. 

This book is pretty light on action and heavy on description, which I loved and felt that it built the tension really well. I’ve always liked stories where the setting becomes one of the characters, and the House was such a beautiful example of this. I loved Piranesi’s relationship with the House and with nature in general. He believes so firmly that he is loved and will be taken care of by them.

Happy ending meter (no specific spoilers, just the vibe):
SpoilerBittersweet. With a story like this, there could be no truly happy ending, but this ending was about as good as it could get.

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anger566's review

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adventurous mysterious tense slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

4.25


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lizardbet's review

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adventurous mysterious tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? N/A

5.0


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admiralsmall's review against another edition

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dark mysterious reflective tense fast-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? Yes

4.5

A book that deserves analysis... that plays with ideas of ancient philosophy, belief, and what a text is... but is also a critique of powerful men in powerful places doing whatever the hell they want for the sake of themselves. 
It was such a page-turner as well. A book that should have felt dense and dull... just plagued my thoughts all day long... I absolutely adored it. 

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