Book: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

"Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close"

Nine-year-old Oskar Schell has embarked on an urgent, secret mission that will take him through the five boroughs of New York. His goal is to find the lock that matches a mysterious key that belonged to his father, who died in the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11. This seemingly impossible task will bring Oskar into contact with survivors of all sorts on an exhilarating, affecting, often hilarious, and ultimately healing journey.

We all deal with grief in different ways. Some people want to move on quickly, some holds on desperately. Oskar Schell deals with his by pretending that his father had left one last puzzle for him to solve: the case of the mysterious key.

It took me a while to finish the book because of its multiple perspectives. This was the case too when I was reading author Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything is Illuminated. But while this one is just as heartbreaking, it’s not as heartwarming as his previous work.

Not that that’s a bad thing. I like how Foer doesn’t mask the bad parts of a character’s person. It just took me longer to finish the book because I wasn’t as invested with the characters as I was with the ones from Everything is Illuminated.

This is my second novel that dealt with 9/11, and I can’t help but compare it to David Levithan’s Love is the Higher Law. The latter didn’t have characters who lost anyone in the tragedy–but it felt more personal. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close felt a little distant at times. I don’t know if it’s because our main character was a special child, or is it because we also jumped through time.

And I think I get what the author is trying to do, juxtaposing this act of terrorism to the bombing on Germany that happened decades and decades ago– But it didn’t work for me. It took me away from the emotions of the now, instead of amplifying what I’m supposed to be feeling.

And when we reach the end, where Oskar finally discovers the mystery of the key he found–it was anticlimactic. I mean, I loved the story of the key. I loved where it lead us. But it also felt forced. Like the author just needed the story finished.

I didn’t feel the story flowed to the ending it wanted to go to. So I didn’t enjoy the book as much as I wanted to.

To the ones who have already read the book–what did you think of it? Do you feel the same way I do? Or did I miss something?


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