Monday, December 2, 2013

Book Review: Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia

Monday, December 2, 2013
Chronicle of a Death Foretold
Genre: Magical Realism
Publisher: Vintage
Series: Standalone
Age Group: Adult
Source: Borrowed
A man returns to the town where a baffling murder took place 27 years earlier, determined to get to the bottom of the story. Just hours after marrying the beautiful Angela Vicario, everyone agrees, Bayardo San Roman returned his bride in disgrace to her parents. Her distraught family forced her to name her first lover; and her twin brothers announced their intention to murder Santiago Nasar for dishonoring their sister. Yet if everyone knew the murder was going to happen, why did no one intervene to stop it? The more that is learned, the less is understood, and as the story races to its inexplicable conclusion, an entire society--not just a pair of murderers—is put on trial.

Summary from Goodreads.

Chronicle of a Death Foretold has a fascinating premise- we know from the start that Santiago Nasar is going to die, as the very first line is:

"On the day they were going to kill him, Santiago Nasar got up at five-thirty in the morning to wait for the boat the bishop was coming on."

Talk about a hook, right? But the fact that he's going to be killed isn't actually the point! The real point is that almost no one in the town tries to warn him or to stop his two assassins, despite ample time to do so.

And the story stays interesting through the author's formatting; the way the narrator goes around town, interviewing people, makes it read like a crime drama.

So all of this is definitely a plus, and I should have been riveted...but I was far from it. Actually, for a large part of the book, I was bored.

Why? Well, ultimately, Garcia sacrifices plot for characterization. The story focuses so much on making a point about human nature that the actual events fall rather flat. As a result, the ending is far too sudden because when the characterization stops, so does the story.

While it was nice to be able to read a book in just a couple of hours- it's only 120 pages- I would have preferred it to be a bit longer and actually have some more, well, plot. (And this is saying something, since characters are the most important part of a book to me.)

*3 stars*

If you had to choose, would you pick character or plot?

2 comments:

  1. I remember having to read this in 12th grade. It's one of the books that I actually read that year. I didn't remember much about it until your review and I think I remember bits and pieces of it.

    Aly @ My Heart Hearts Books

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    Replies
    1. I read it for school and I found our discussion about it more interesting than the book itself.

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