Just last week, I read a post on Lynda R Young's blog about reviewing books and thought I'd refer back to it while I wrote this one.
Roy's characters are realistic, complex, and well defined. Estha and Rahel, the fraternal twins whose point of view most of the story is told from, are my favourite characters. I found it easy to relate to Ammu's independent ways, which ultimately got her in to trouble and troubled the lives of everyone around her. I loved the Untouchable, Velutha, just as they did, right down to the last sentence of the book.
I love that the plot was revealed in a non-linear way, that started towards the end and then went back and forth a few times until everything made sense. This was pulled off really well. Each time we moved between times, Roy gave us just enough to keep us curious, but not enough for us to guess exactly what happens until the story is over. I don't think I have a favourite part, but one of the most memorable part was the incident with Estha and the orangedrink/lemondrink man at the theatre. I remember, I was reading that scene on another long train ride and had to stop myself from audibly expressing how disturbed and distressed it made me. Even at the very end of the novel, the last scene wasn't from the end of the narrative, but it left the reader on a happier, more hopeful note to balance all the darkness of the end of the narrative. The plot moved along a little slowly at points, especially wherever we stopped to introduce and explain the background of a newly introduced character. However, I couldn't find any of these slowed-down instances that were actually irrelevant to the story; there were certain things that characters did that you needed to know more about them to understand why. Even in these instances, whatever information we were given was unique and interesting.
Roy's story was set mostly in India and the setting here felt like another character. Roy uses very unique descriptions, sometimes gritty and brutally honest, sometimes magically beautiful. Reading it, it was easy to place myself there and visualise everything that was described, sometimes even a little bit more.
Roy's overall style was unique. Along with the non-linear narrative structure that she uses, she also uses really original phrases and descriptions. I think it would have been hard to find a cliche. Some of the ways she worded things surprised me, shocked me. There were a few moments a cliche would have fitted perfectly, but right when you thought you were about to read it, she turned it on its head and gave you something else. A few of these particular wordings became motifs throughout the story. She also used a lot of imagery - again, very original - some of which also became recurring motifs. The story was really beautifully written, and I think that was a big contributor to my wanting to finish it.
Along with the beautiful style, the content of the story is also very original, at least in my opinion. It's not a happy story and it's authenticity is emphasised by Roy's nitty-gritty honesty in everything she includes in the pages. The God of Small Things is a story about how breaking the laws of love ("... who should be loved and how. And how much.") alters the lives of fraternal twins Estha and Rahel, their mother Ammu, the man they all love, and everybody else around them. Their story is dark and disturbing and things get weird at times, but that's all a part of why I loved it.
I definitely recommend this to read.
In other news, it's Day 5 of NaNoWriMo 2013 here in Australia, and the writing I did today has boosted my word count to just over 9,000 words. I am loving the amount of time I am spending with my characters from WALLS, especially Mildred and Kovax, and how well I'm getting to know them while I watch them change and grow on the page in front of me. At the moment, Mildred is having a deep and meaningful conversation on the couch with her friend Lani, and Kovax is nursing the bruises from his most recent schoolyard scuffle... and to think, it's only Tuesday.
Have you read The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy? How are your NaNoWriMo/NaNoRevisMo/NaNoNoNo goals going?
Edit: Much thanks to P V Ariel for reminding me to make note of the fact that The God of Small Things is the winner of the 1997 Booker Prize for fiction and also reached fourth place on the New York Times Bestsellers list for Independent Fiction. Arundhati Roy's debut novel was a huge success for her.