Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Other Hand (Little Bee)


"This is the story of two women. Their lives collide one fateful day, and one of them has to make a terrible choice. Two years later, they meet again. The story starts there. Once you have read it you'll want to tell everyone about it. When you do, please don't tell them what happens. The magic is in how it unfolds." 

Above is the blurb from the book Little Bee or The Other Hand by Chris Cleave. Quite irresistible isn't it? I'd heard so much about it in various book blogs and the blurb was a winner. Reader, I bought the book (and I'm sorry I did).

Sometimes it's harder to write a negative review. I have to explain why I didn't like the book. To be honest, it wasn't enjoyable at all. I was curious about this life changing event that occurred to the two main characters and so I kept reading on. The details of this fateful day are only revealed in the middle of the novel. It wasn't very shocking and maybe it's because the author left little clues here and there. We know all along that one character has a missing finger and another character lost her sister.

I was left with this feeling that the entire story was obviously constructed around that ONE single scene. Everything else was so weak.

I don't understand what the hype was all about. I should have been forewarned when the American publisher decided to change the title of the book from The Other Hand to Little Bee. Why do publishers do that and why do authors allow it? I thought they were two different books or part of a series. In the Philippines, they're available in both editions so it was very confusing. I wouldn't be surprised if this book underwent an expensive marketing campaign. After all, the blurb was designed to sell and sell it did.

20 comments:

  1. Yours isn't the only negative review I've read but the book for some reason doesnt appeal to me anyway. It seems to be a love it or hate it book and I for the life of me cant understand why they changed the title either.

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  2. Sorry to hear you didn't like it. I haven't read it yet, but there has definitely been a lot of hype about it.

    I hate the way the publishers change the names of the books. It is so confusing. They did the same with The Lost Book of Salem by Katherine Howe and now they have changed it back to the American name over here, confusing people even more.

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  3. Sorry this did not work for you. I loved it when I read it in 2009.

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  4. I agree that sometimes its tough to write negative reviews. Sorry this book didn't work out for you. I've heard a lot about it as well.

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  5. I've not heard of this book before but I would have picked the book up in a book shop because of the front cover and so now I know not to!

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  6. Yes, the blurb was odd and almost inevitably led to an anticlimax. That said, I do think that Chris Cleave is a wonderful writer. Both his novels (Incendiary deals with terrorist attacks) are horrifying and difficult to read but I am very impressed by his storytelling skill.

    He is also very versatile; his novels are horrific and yet for two years he wrote a lovely, heartwarming and hilarious column about being the father of three young children for the Guardian family section.

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  7. I'm so happy to find someone else who didn't like Little Bee. I just didn't understand what all the praise was for. The book was not original, the characters were cliched, and the story did not engage me in any way. I couldn't wait to rid myself of this book. Thanks for sharing our dislike of this book - it made me happy! Not that I like being negative about books, but with this one, I felt rather alone in my dislike for it. Cheers!

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  8. Sorry that you didn't enjoy this but thank you for posting a thoughtful and candid review - I think you are so right that it can be more difficult to write a negative review than a positive one.

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  9. Sorry to know that you didn't like the book. I agree with you that the blurb is really eye-catching and is a winner. If I had seen the blurb before reading your review, I would have got the book. Now I am wiser and I won't :)

    I also hate it when publishers change the title of the book, when it is published in a different country. I thought they did it only with translations. When I got one of Hans Fallada's books 'Alone in Berlin' I was very disappointed because the other title by which it was sold was 'Everyman dies alone' which is so much more interesting.

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  10. I forgot to mention one more thing. I love the picture of the black cat in Murakami's 'Kafka on the shore' which you are reading now :) It reminds me of the black cat in Bulgakov's 'The Master and Margarita' which loves vodka and playing chess :) Looking forward to reading your thoughts on Murakami's book.

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  11. I've picked this up a couple of times at the bookstore and the blurb gets me every time. I always want to get it but I've heard mixed reviews. This seems like a classic case of great marketing but terrible execution.

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  12. I thought the audio version was very well done, but I had issues with the marketing strategy.
    http://lakesidemusing.blogspot.com/2009/10/audio-review-little-bee-by-chris-cleave.html

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  13. @tea lady - Cleave isn't a bad writer, it's just the story that was poor. I'm not attracted to the plot of Incendiary though. It sounds very violent.

    @Nadia - I'm happy to know you didn't like it either. I thought I was the only one. I haven't read a negative review for this yet.

    @Vishy - I've never read Master and the Margarita. I'm enjoying the Murakami book so far.

    @JoAnn - I can imagine the audio version would be more enjoyable than the book.

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  14. I'm sorry to hear that it didn't work out. Better luck next time!

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  15. I'm sorry to hear that! I have seen this around but it didn't appeal to me and now I definitely won't pick it up. I hate it when publishers change titles between the US and UK - we are not so stupid as to need different titles, thanks! It just makes life confusing, especially when both are available in both countries in these days of online bookstores.I've been caught out by that before and ended up with the same book twice over!

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  16. Sometimes a book just doesn't mesh with our reading styles/tastes. I just finished a book that I did not like. AT ALL. I think that sometimes a negative review is helpful, because we're that much more likely to be excited when a good, enjoyable novel crosses our path.

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  17. I read this book for work, and though I can recognize what other readers have enjoyed about it, I wasn't all that into it. Part of my problem was the blurb. I prefer no nonsense descriptions that get to the point and tell me what the book is about.

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  18. I'm sorry you didn't enjoy this one; I was one of those who loved it although I had major issues with the marketing ploys. Yours is not the only negative review I have read and I can completely understand why this is a love/hate novel. I also dislike when titles are changed for no apparent reason.

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  19. Ah my friend read this book and she too did not much enjoy it, except for the fact that it was fast read. I must say the blurb though is too tempting!

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  20. I hate such blurbs. They make you buy the book and then leave you to regret it. I am sorry you didn't enjoy it!

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