Joy (cithra) wrote,

I just finished Paul Park's novel A Princess of Roumania, and I'm trying to decide whether I want to join the queue at the library to put the sequel on hold.

Ok, that's a lie. I joined the queue for The Tourmaline while I was out looking up the links.

It's strange that I feel so ambivalent about his work when I'm done, even when I am really drawn into the reading. I essentially read PoR cover-to-cover yesterday and this morning, with a short break for some sleep. It is an engaging and fresh take on alternate worlds, deals gracefully with themes like questions of identity and coming-of-age issues, and is both solid and deft in the drawing of the social/religious/historical context of the world. I want to recommend it, but not without some hesitation; a hesitation that I don't feel the work truly deserves.

I am beginning to suspect, as I type this, that it is my taste that is at fault, rather than any aspect of Park's work. In short, I don't find any of the characters more than momentarily sympathetic*. He's created a beautiful, magical world that I feel myself longing to visit - filled with people who annoy the hell out of me.

It's a testament to Park's skill in characterization that his people grate on me authentically and in such a subtle manner. I find myself really wanting to like them. Perhaps I'll like them better as they mature - it is in part a series about coming of age. But I'm uncertain that will be the case when I consider the adults already present. I also recall having a similar reaction to some of his shorter works.

So I will go ahead and recommend the novel with enthusiasm. If anyone else reads or has read it, I'd be curious to hear your opinions.

[*It is a flaw of mine that I tend not to be enthusiastic about films/movies where this is the case. An extreme example for me is Glengarry Glen Ross - a brilliant, amazingly well done movie/play that I never, ever want to see again. In milder cases I have difficultly recommending something wholeheartedly that provokes such internal ambivalence.]

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