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Such a cool book - with 36 writers, the reader has no idea where the story might go. Very interesting and the fact that this was done in a workshop setting in the Seattle area is an extra bonus. You may wonder what you got yourself into in the beginning but by the end, applause that the writers managed to pull this off.
I bought this because I was impressed with the 36 authors. It was an interesting, even inspiring, story of a spunky girl who had way too much responsibility. She had been raised by unusual people, to say the least, and had a lot to learn about the real world. It was interesting to evaluate the styles of the various authors.
This is a book you gotta read, primarily because of how it was developed/created. The story itself probably rates 4+ stars. It's a lot of fun to read, with twists and turns and extremely interesting characters.
But take a look at the creation process. Thirty-six authors each took a 2-hour turn on a stage to write a chapter of the book, based on guidelines established by an editorial committee; the whole process took 6 days! There was an audience, plus it was being broadcast, so it was a live book-writing event. I had the delicious opportunity to correspond with two of the coordinators/authors, and they describe the event as a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
I could go on and on, recommending that you try this one. But I'll stop here, if you promise to read it. What do you say?
Some other reviewers, both on Amazon and elsewhere, have had some critical comments about the plot. Reading Hotel Angeline, I am struck not so much by the plot but by the process. This book is the product of a live, on-stage, writing event. Imagine you are on a camping trip not with your scout troop but with some of the best authors writing in the Northwest today. Then imagine one of them starts the story...and off it goes.
Hotel Angeline is fascinating because of how it was written. It is raw creativity and instant plot formulation. It really brings to the forefront of the reading experience exactly what it means to read a book written by someone else. The oddities of the plot make that even more clear--by focusing on the process rather than the product more about the concept of writing and sharing stories comes through.
I recommend this book to anyone who is thoughtful about reading, literacy, and the creative process. As Garth Stein says in the foreword to Hotel Angeline:
"So I hope that you will take our novel as a provocation on multiple levels. First, as a story, of course. But also, as a provocation to think about what makes a community a great place to live. Conversation and dialogue are central to our society. Give and take, listening, speaking, thinking, hearing, adapting, understanding, evolving. The act of writing a book--which necessitates that that book be read to be valid--is the epitome of conversation, and so stands at the center of our communities." (Stein, 2011)
I am giving it for stars just because of the idea and its execution as work of 36 authors. For the story and its flow I would only give one star. It is quite amazing how most of the 36 different people were able to keep the story going and the main character consistent. Only one of the authors was completaly off, writing a piece of poetical crap that could have been inserted in any part of the book and did not move the story in any direction at all. I even like the one comics chapter. Of course some of the author did better job than others keeping the story more on the track and moving nicely forward, some just added too much complications or make some parts too unrealistic. All in all I enjoyed the experience.
Like many of the other reviewers out there, I found this book to be hard to get through at times. The storyline meandered every which way and lost me at parts. That being said, I did find that after the half-way point I began enjoying it more. I think that it is a worthwhile read based on the fact that it was an experiment in compiling the voices of 36 different authors. It definitely had its ups and downs but was a unique piece that did end up being interesting in the end.
Loved the premise of this book written in 36 voices. Love Seattle and it was fun to go from chapter to chapter and being surprised every time. I hope this group or similar one does another book like this.
I read the first three or four chapters, then decided to move on to something else, thinking I might come back to it later. But after six months or so of passing over it for another "something else", I decided to delete it from my device.
The chapters I read just didn't feel cohesive enough for me to want to stick with the characters and keep reading. The girl I met in the first chapter was not the same girl by the third or fourth chapter, and the transitions were too jarring to be interesting. I got the impression that the writers were more interested in showing their unique voice and making an impact than in developing a consistent storyline. It's hard to stick with a story when you get the sense that it's going to change so completely every time a new writer comes on board...
Maybe if I had stuck with it longer, maybe it would have improved. Maybe. But honestly? It's rare that I abandon any book, even one that I don't particularly like. I usually keep plowing through, expecting it to get better. But this one, written so obviously by a different author for every chapter... It was easy to just stop.
Maybe I'll pick it up again some time in the future. Maybe.