Author: Patrick Ness
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.
Synopsis from Goodreads:
George Duncan is an American living and working in London. At forty-eight, he owns a small print shop, is divorced, and lonelier than he realizes. All of the women with whom he has relationships eventually leave him for being too nice. But one night he is woken by an astonishing sound—a terrific keening, which is coming from somewhere in his garden. When he investigates he finds a great white crane, a bird taller than even himself. It has been shot through the wing with an arrow. Moved more than he can say, George struggles to take out the arrow from the bird’s wing, saving its life before it flies away into the night sky.
The next morning, a shaken George tries to go about his daily life, retreating to the back of his store and making cuttings from discarded books—a harmless, personal hobby—when through the front door of the shop a woman walks in. Her name is Kumiko, and she asks George to help her with her own artwork. George is dumbstruck by her beauty and her enigmatic nature, and begins to fall desperately in love with her. She seems to hold the potential to change his entire life, if he could only get her to reveal the secret of who she is and why she has brought her artwork to him.
I did really like this book, but I can’t say I loved it. There’s something about it that I can’t quite identify that got in the way of me falling in love with this story. It is at times humorous and romantic, while at others is vengeful and tragic.
The character of Amanda is complex. Her hatred runs deep, but she’s following a journey of self-discovery to understand why she feels and thinks so negatively and self-destructively. She experiences a great deal of growth throughout the story, taking control of her life and her situation in order to better herself. I actually quite liked her. Sometimes I really hated her, but she really grew on me as well.
The mystical story of the crane and the volcano is also something that really drew me into this story. It is at once beautiful and tragic, a story of love and hate, of healing and destruction, of vengeance and destruction. Kumiko is the embodiment of the story and she is a character who remains a mystery to her lover, George, and to the reader. Kumiko is compelling and like George, the reader is driven to know her more. Really though, she is an unknowable presence in the book. She is there to heal and to forgive. She is a mythical and mysterious creature that adds a fantastical element to the book.
I was the most bored with George. He’s really a nothing character. He loves quickly and easily, and he seems to be a constant presence for Amanda, but he really does nothing. Kumiko has a power and control over him, keeping her identity a secret. Amanda bosses him around. He tells us all of the women in his past had once been lovers, but became friends and left him over time because of his niceness. And his niceness doesn’t change. He is the same character at the beginning as he is at the end. He experiences little or no change. He was boring.
Overall, their story didn’t really move me. The story itself is interesting and most of the characters are complex and intriguing, but I didn’t feel anything while reading it. I had no connection to the story. It was just alright.