Sunday, September 25, 2011

Swamplandia - Russell

Swamplandia! by Karen Russell is the story of the eccentric Bigtree family, narrated by twelve-year old Ava, who own a tourist attraction in the Florida everglades called Swamplandia! which offers alligator wrestling performances, a Bigtree family museum made up of the family "artifacts" (read trash) and well, not much more except mosquitoes. 

Except the attraction seems to be gone...  As are the customers.  As is Ava's mother, who has recently died of cancer.  And Ava's dad, who goes on a business trip to find work. And Ava's brother, Kiwi, who goes to the family's new competitor to find work (in the hopes of sending money home to save the park, of course). Oh, and did I mention that Ava's sister Ossie is missing too? She's run off with a ghost, yes you read that right - a ghost - (as she has suddenly become psychic by reading a book) to get married in the "underworld". 

What follows is the story of a girl, and her family, trying to deal with the loss of a loved one (as well as some other surprising horrors) while growing up and finding her way in this world that she, having grown up on a secluded island, doesn't really understand.

My opinion? It wasn't a bad book. It was fairly well written... But if I start my comments that way, you know there's not much more! I just...didn't get it. The book dragged...and dragged...and Ava travels through the everglades with some random guy who visits her island (again, she's been secluded her whole life) in search of her sister and as Kiwi (the brother) tries to grow up and prove himself.  Yawn! 

Then, there is an attempt at the end of the book to add something shocking and horrific. I will avoid giving too much info, don't want to spoil it for anyone. But, again, yawn. Too little, too late.

All in all. I'd skip this one.

2/5- Just okay.  Choose with extreme prejudice.