Friday, 7 December 2012

A Separate Peace

A Separate PeaceA Separate Peace by John Knowles
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I have no idea why I decided to read this book. I usually pick up books by rebelling against the age old adage "don't judge a book by it's cover"; I'm drawn in by appealing covers on books. However, I stumbled across this book on my recommended list from Goodreads and thought it might make for an interesting read. The description states that it is a timeless American classic or something along those lines, a statement I probably should not make my decisions on.

The main protagonist is Gene and the story is written from his point of view. He is a student at Devon and his best friend is Phineas. Again, according to the cover, an appalling and shocking incident occurs that shatters their world. In that vein, I would expect someone to get pregnant, come out of the closet (shocking for those times), or discover they are related in some way.

I won't tell you what specifically happened, but it wasn't as catastrophic as I had imagined. Perhaps I had built this idea up in my mind of all the horrible things that could happen to boys at boarding school... Either way, I wasn't impressed. The story meanders along about the adventures of these friends etcetera, until it comes to a quiet close.

After putting it down, I asked myself, 'What did you just read? What did you learn?' and the answer was: nothing. For a book that is a "classic", I felt that it lacked depth. The description was beautiful, the language lovely, the writing style superb. The emotion was empty, the characters lacked empathy and frankly, I found myself bored by the whole novel.

Maybe it's not me and I don't have a great enough mind to comprehend the beauty of this novel. I feel as though this would have been a book my high school English teach would have given me to read and write an essay on. I recognize that this is the exact same way I felt about "Of Mice and Men" and "Who Has Seen The Wind?", although at least "Of Mice..." had some spectacularly disturbing elements which kept it intriguing.

Perhaps no more American classics for me.

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