Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Book Mini-reviews: Baby Doll and The Vegetarian

Baby Doll

Lily was kidnapped as a high school student and held for eight years in captivity. During this time, her captor "trained" her through torture, used her, impregnated her, and continued to abuse her. He grew careless one day and left the door to their prison unlocked. She took her daughter and escaped, leading to his arrest. How has life changed since she's been gone? Will her captor be able to escape punishment for what he's done?

Baby Doll is obviously an effort to capitalize on the success of Room. I've only seen the movie, but it's a powerful story (very similar to this one) but focuses on the debilitating and harmful effects of the captivity on the child who was born there. This book decides to take a different route and focuses on the mother in the situation and almost completely ignores the child who has never been outside of a cabin basement. In comparison, Baby Doll is the ham-handedly written Lifetime movie version of Room. I felt for Lily and her family, but the situations are so over the top and crazy. I just couldn't really take it seriously. The writing is quite simple and flows well, but the characters are paper thin. I think it would genuinely do well as a TV movie, but as a book, it's underwhelming.

3/5 fishmuffins

The Vegetarian

Yeong-hye is a normal housewife married to a normal businessman until she has a horrific dream one day. Afterwards, she gives up meat, refuses to cook it, and refuses to have it in her house. Her husband and family are scandalized and grow angry after they can't talk sense into her, but Yeong-hye continues to refuse meat and her behavior becomes more and more erratic over time.

The Vegetarian is a memorable book split into three parts. The first part is the best because it's from the point of view of Yeong-hye's dull husband. He wants his needs met, his house clean, and food cooked and that's about it. When Yeong-hye refuses to have meet even in the house, his whole world is thrown into disarray. His once compliant wife now has opinions and won't do everything he says. He resorts to rape, which he describes nonchalantly, and trying to get her family to change her mind. They also resort to abuse, but Yeong-hye doesn't budge. The second part has Yeong-hye's sister's husband obsessing over and exploiting her and the last part has that same sister trying to convince her to eat anything at an institution. The narrative shows how restrictive and horrible society is for a woman and Yeong-hye's only escape from it is embracing her madness. It also shows how every man in the text simply uses women in one way or another and it's completely socially acceptable. The ending is pretty sad and hopeless, but realistic in the view of the world. I loved the first part, but the other parts weren't as strong. It kind of lost its way at the end.

My rating: 3/5 fishmuffins

No comments: