mikith's review

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emotional reflective sad medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.5


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owenwilsonbaby's review

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

5.0

"Maybe it was the willingness to play that hinted at a tender, eternally newborn part in all humans. Maybe it was the willingness to play that kept one from despair."

A book that had so many lines I wanted to include here that I actually found it pretty hard to choose. Zevin has crafted such a wonderful piece of art. There are so many layers to this that I think I need to reread it almost immediately. The entire last third made me want to ugly cry. Every scene of this book was on the surface about moving its tightly-wound plot onward, yet simultaneously managed to further an extraordinary portrait of play, art, ethics, performance, love and sex, disability and illness, relationships and family. Zevin's ideas about these varied topics are finely painted, always finding room for levity, lightness, nuance and exploration. At the same time, the scenes that lean more heavily into these themes never feel like they lack depth. If anything, the lightness of touch here in everything from narrative voice to plotting to recurrent images and motifs felt carefully considered. I learned so much about the gaming world and its history which I have never really interacted with before. And yet most of all I feel the novel's important insights boiled down to how humans relate to and care for another. That despite everything, in the end, love can be very simple. The conversation with Dong Hyun near the ending of the book where he incredulously looks at Sam and says "Are you kidding? [...] Everything is funny now." Insane. I wanted to sob.

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lex_mags's review

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

2.5


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mel_s_bookshelf's review

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

4.25


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bpwagoner's review

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challenging dark emotional funny sad tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

This is a book about life and loss and failure and identity. It's very beautiful, it's sometimes funny, it's always interesting. I will be thinking about this one for a long time, and I am already looking forward to a reread. You can tell that the author spent an appropriately long time building these characters, their world, and their lives. The characters are lovable, infuriatingly flawed, slow to change, and messily human. The events are so realistic and immersive that you question which elements are historical truth and which ones are fictional — it's that seamless. Other books attempt this (Daisy Jones and the Six comes to mind) but none so successfully. The traumas and heartbreaks described are quite heavy, and I recommend checking the content warnings. 5 stars, and thank you to the Bad Bitch Book Club for making this the September pick as well as my many friends who recommended it too.

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liv2199's review

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

4.0


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eregriel's review

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dark emotional hopeful inspiring reflective sad medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.75


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emwilliams's review against another edition

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adventurous emotional inspiring fast-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

5.0


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scorpstar77's review

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

4.5


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wsimcik's review against another edition

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hopeful reflective sad slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.5


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