Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Winter of the World by Ken Follett

Winter of the World (The Century Trilogy #2)Winter of the World by Ken Follett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I originally got this book from the library when it first came out, but only read the first few chapters before I had to return it, and I finally got around to re-requesting & reading it over the last couple of weeks.

Overall, I did enjoy the book, but definitely not as much as the first one.

There are too many characters to keep track of, and that was a huge turn off for me. Yes, there's a cheat sheet, but if there are so many characters in the book that the author feels there's a need for a cheat sheet, then that should have been his first clue that there are TOO many characters! Because there were so many "main" characters in the book, I felt like I didn't really get to know any of them & really didn't upset when any of them would get killed off (instead I felt relief that it was one less character). The book jumps from character to character (and as such, from different parts of the world) and was just one more thing to keep track of in this large volume (which for the record, I'm a HUGE fan of big books / big series).

Another turn off for me is that WWII events that the average American knows about - such as Pearl Harbor and the Holocaust - are barely mentioned in the book. This actually wasn't as big a turn off for me once I thought about it - I wouldn't have wanted to read a book that spent 100 pages on Pearl Harbor when I know a decent amount about Pearl Harbor. Instead Follett does a great job writing about the world's involvement in the war in general - which is exactly the point of this series, isn't it? So what started as a turn off ended up a positive.

A "neutral" point I'd like to make is that Follett does NOT do a lot of rehashing of the first book like most series books do. Usually there's a little brief mention of a plot point or a little reminder of who the character is, and he doesn't do this. Usually that's a good thing, but again see my first point - there's a LOT of characters to keep track of, and a little bit of reminding would have helped. Not that you can't figure out who everyone is fast enough - the first mention of Maud made me go "who?" but within a sentence or two I remembered who she was, who she married & why she was living in a country that wasn't her own.

So what's good about the book? Well... this book quite neatly talks about so so many events & ties them together realistically. Yes, a few plot points you are going to see happening - which I won't give an example of for spoiling the book. But it's a historical fiction book & anyone who knows their history is going to see some of these plots happening. Follett is such an excellent author - and quite frankly one of my top ten favorite authors - that you want to read the next page, and the next, and the next.

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