Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Shanghai Girls

by Lisa See

This book started out so well! The first few chapters were exciting and dramatic, the Japanese invading Shanghai and how it affected Pearl and May and their family. They were already having problems when their father gambled away all of their money, but then add bombs to the mix and you've got gold! Pearl and May were so out of touch with reality that it took them by surprise. Their father was a coward who disappeared and their mother was courageous and got them out of the city. This is a great set-up to a story that's sure to be breath-taking.

Not so fast. Toward the middle of the book, the plot really started to drag. It lost so much momentum as years and years went by and nothing happened. People were born, people died (don't worry, I won't say who), but it was a natural cycle of life. The story became jilted and jumped all over the place. As a reader, I couldn't connect emotionally to Pearl because she was very distant and cold.

The story finally became exciting again toward the end of the book, but then it was over. 5 pages before the end was when things really started to happen and Pearl and May were going to learn the consequences of their lies! Oh, just kidding. The end. A much better way of telling the story would have been to skip all of the boring parts in the middle and focus more on the events at the end of the book and continue from there. I feel cheated and disappointed.

Another way the book could have been more interesting (and I'm stealing this idea from my sister) was if it was told from both points of view of Pearl and May. It was only told in Pearl's stoic voice. May is a much more appealing character, and it would have emphasized the dichotomy between the two sisters.

"Snowflower and the Secret Fan" is an excellent book written by the same author. I was hoping this one would be just as good, and it got my hopes up as I read more and more. Unfortunately, though, it didn't continue throughout the whole book, and by the end, I was glad to turn the last page. Though I would like to find out what happens next.....so maybe if she writes a sequel I'll read it.....

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