My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The first and last John Steinbeck book I read before this was Of Mice and Men way back in 2005/6 as part of required reading for school. I did NOT enjoy it at all, which is why I didn’t bother with any of his other books until I decided to give East of Eden a go. I was quite apprehensive going in, but also buoyed by the fact that it’s often heralded as one of the “greatest novels of all time” and is one of those “books you must read before you die”. With that kind of praise, as well as a rating of 4.39 on here, surely it had to be better than Of Mice and Men. Right?
Yes and no.
1) This was a really good story. It’s a modern retelling of the Genesis story of Cain and Abel and you can’t help but be affected, both positively and negatively, by many of the richly drawn characters. Cathy for example, I just 🤬🤬🤬
1) The writing. Sigh! The writing. To say this book is verbose and meandering is putting it lightly. I didn’t get very far into the story before I was over the many, many, MANY descriptions of Salinas Valley. Pages and pages and pages of descriptions of rain, dust, crops, animals, valleys… we get it Mr. Steinbeck. We fucking get it. Just make it stop. Please.
2) I also hated (strong but accurate word) how the author kept inserting himself into the story. Ugh! Just make it stop. Please.
3) This book has no business being 601 pages. It’s 200 pages too long and sweardown those extra 200 pages are all descriptions of Salinas Valley sprinkled in with the author inserting himself in the story. I’m pretty sure I’d have enjoyed an abridged version of this novel because the 601 pages were too verbose, meandering and inconsistently paced for me.
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** A guide to ratings **
1 star – did not like it
2 stars – it was okay
3 stars – liked it
4 stars – really liked it
5 stars – it was amazing