The Bird Room by Chris Killen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
(Discosure: I received this book for free through the Goodreads First Reads Program)
What started out as a really good dark humor story devolved into a much less complex, although definetly darker, observational narrative. Killen has written some deeply flawed characters, and as much as I love flawed characters, that's not enough to make up for a plot that ends about 2/3 of the way through the book for one of the main characters and goes absolutely nowhere for the rest of the characters. This might have made a great short story, but stretching it out to novella length brings on a lot of repetition of the character's actions and inner dialogs. Perhaps that was the point, that these people have no depth beyond what we're given, but then I have to wonder why in the beginning of the story there's so much originality in how they perceived themselves and each other. That was before the story turned into a "there's no 'there' there.
What we're given as a setting (London, or some other very large British city) shows that Killen can be economical and descriptive at the same time. My favorite line from the whole book, in fact, is more about where the story takes place rather than who it's about: A character is lamenting that she has to go to a certain store because at the other, more preferable ones, she might run into people she doesn't want to see. Despite the fact that she lives in one of the most populous, conjested cities of the world, she wishes she could live "...somewhere more anonymous,like the rainforest or the sky". Killen's characters are people who couldn't lose themselves anywhere.
View all my reviews >>