toepic’s cbr4# Review #6: Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
13 year old Ava Bigree, of the World Famous Bigtree alligator-wrestling clan, has problems. Her mom, and main Swamplandia! attraction Hilola Bigtree has recently passed away of cancer. Sister Ossie has since developed an obsession with ghosts and is retreating from reality. Brother Kiwi has taken off for the mainland trying to earn money and save the suddenly failing Swamplandia! theme park. Chief Bigtree? he’s nowhere to be found.
Ava’s journey through Florida’s swampland is terrifying and perilous. Kiwi’s navagation of the mainland is the same. One thing is clear, the Bigtree family will never be the same.
Swamplandia! has received a lot of acclaim, appearing on many 2011 end-of-year book lists. It’s also garnered some bad reviews on Amazon and CBR4. Most of the criticism seems to center around Russell’s uneven writing and loose plot points. Those criticisms are certainly valid. However, the story was dramatic and engaging. I’ll take a good story over good writing any day.
Speaking of uneven writing, if I was writing one of those terrible book jacket blurbs, I’d say this book is a coming-of-age fish-out-of-water familial-drama.
Most highlighted quote from Kindle users:
The Beginning of the End can feel a lot like the middle when you are living in it.
If you liked Geek Love, but wished it had much less mutilation and carnies. Or you liked Huck Finn but thought it needed a little more.
TV Note: According to the Hollywood Reporter, HBO has optioned Swamplandia! as a half hour comedy (weird) with Scott Rudin (The Social Network) as executive producer.
PBS interview with Karen Russell after the jump.
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