Saturday, May 8, 2010

Her Fearful Symmetry (ranting a bit... Sorry)

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**Disclaimer** Whenever I give a book a bad review I write my review and then I don't post it for quite a few days because I want to make sure that I really mean what I am saying and not giving a sort of deserving book a bad wrap.  So if I sound terrible and snarky it is because this book made me this way.  I chose and rechose my words carefully and this is purely my opinion.

You know when you were a kid and Christmas or your Birthday rolled around and there was that one great big box dressed all in bright beautiful paper that you were just dying to rip into?  The one that you just knew was that most coveted toy or that puppy you asked for?  Then when you were given the OK you tore off the wrapping paper and opened the lid only to be confronted with a few pairs of rolled up sock that our Aunt Hilda knitted you.  Well that doesn't even slightly compare to the disappointment I was in store for when I set out to read Her Fearful Symmetry.  I was looking forward to this book so much and I wanted to love it really really hard despite the bad reviews it was getting, but alas, the reviews were bad for a reason people!  After The Time Travelers Wife (which I consider my all time favorite book, and have read almost 8 times) I was expecting my mind to be blown with her amazing story telling skills and genius mind like I was the first time I read TTTW, but y'all, it was blown because the book was utter garbage!  Audrey can tell a story I will give her that, her writing is BEAUTIFUL with a capital B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L and her mind goes place that no one else's can go but this story was so disjointed and so pointless that I wanted to beat myself with the book rather than read it.  I know I sound hateful but my heart is broken with disappointment and like a child I don't want to wear my disappointment with dignity, I want to through a temper tantrum!

So I guess I have to tell you what this book is about a little bit.  And there might be some spoilers here but I edited out all the twisty bits.  Ok so, Elspeth and Edie are twins.  They have a big falling out and one moves to the Untied States (Edie) and one stays in London (Elspeth).  Elspeth gets the cancer and she dies.  Edie has twin girls of her own (Julia and Valentina) and they are lazy, whiney, 20 year olds that just sit around all day watching HGTV (seriously).  Anyway, Elspeth dies of the cancer like I said and leaves her nieces (Julia and Valentina) her flat in London with the stipulation that they live in it for a year before they sell it and that their parents are not allowed to come into the flat, ever.  Meanwhile, Elspeth's boyfriend Robert is devastated by Elspeths death and can't get over her at all so he does some really naughty things with her shoes (umm yes he did).  Julia and Valentina move in to their aunts flat but guess what?  Elspeth is a ghost and she lives (errr.. haunts) in the flat too.  Then Robert falls in love with Valentina which is creepy and Elspeth gets a little jealous.  Elspeth learns how to communicate with the girls and Robert via a Ouija Board (I am dead serious) and she also learns how to take the souls out of living things and then put them back (and she practices on a poor little kitten that Valentina loves).  Throughout this whole train wreck of a story Valentina has some pent up resentment for her sister Julia and decided she has to kill herself to get away from her (ummm... because that's what I feel like I have to do when I'm annoyed with my sibling).  So Valentine concocts this brilliant plan to have Elspeth rip her soul out of her body, keep it safe, and then replace it once her sister and her parents think she is dead and buried in the cemetery that is next door (and is probably the most important character in this book -um the cemetery not Valentina).  (Come on!!!  Seriously??  I mean decay??  Gross??)  Elspeth is happy to oblige because Valentina is getting a little too cozy with Robert.  Now about this time the story starts to take some crazy twists and turns that will leave you scratching your head and muttering WTF under your breath but believe me you are better off not wasting your time.  Unless you are like me and want to find out for yourself.  But don't say I didn't warn you.

Obviously you can tell that I am in deep hate with this book, so here is where I usually tell you who I would recommend this book to.  NO ONE.  Don't waste your time.  If you feel the itch to read Her Fearful Symmetry just pick up The Time Travelers Wife instead.  I can't believe that the same person wrote both of these books!  I mean TTTW was so ingenious, Niffenegger told that story with so much detail and the whole idea of that story was so thought out and just perfect but Her Fearful Symmetry felt like she used up all her creative juices with TTTW and just threw HFS together at the last minute because Simon and Schuster gave her a FIVE MILLION DOLLAR advance and she forgot when the deadline was, then all of a sudden she looked at her calendar and was like "crap I have to write a book by next Thrusday!  Whatever am I going to do?"

BOOK vs. MOVIE: I might watch this as if it came out as a movie.  Because the book was so terrible that the movie would probably be really good!  I mean movies made about great books usually suck so maybe we would get a blockbuster with this bad book.

RATING: 1 and a half star (the half star is for the fact that the writing was done well just not the story part)

3 More Reviews of Her Fearful Symmetry:
Books I Done Read (She LURVED the book so I wanted to give you the flip side)

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger:
Pages: 401

If you liked this book than read: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield


  1. Wow, this is really well written and humorous review. I JUST posted on my sunday salon today about writing bad reviews and how I will be honest if I don't like a book. I read the mixed reviews on this too and also saw how most stores had this 50% off after like a week and realized it must really not be that great.

    And FIVE MILLION DOLLARS, WHAT?!?! Wow, crazy... I wonder how much money the publishers are out on this one or maybe they made enough on the sales of those who anticipated the same greatness as TTTW (which I never did read). Interesting.

  2. I tried reading this but never really got sucked in (made it to page 15 i believ...its such a long book too!). But I really liked TTTW...and the author shares my name... maybe one day i'll read this. Awesome review, very funny :)

  3. I'm sorry this book disappointed you. I know how you feel. I'm a little disappointed with you. I haven't read this, but the summary for the story sounds like it's all over the place. The title sounded so good. Dang it! Still you did a wonderful review. I think you handled the fact that you disliked the book very well.

  4. i loved your review! so funny without being snarky, very cleverly done! i agree with you, i was so disappointed with this book, i gave it 3/5 stars, only because the writing is obviously so amazing but the story made me want to poke my eyes out. and there were so many parts that i thought had been tacked on after she finished writing because she got to the end of the book and her editor told her to go fix some things :-) i loved TTTW and i'll read future books by her because she got something right once, i'm sure she can do it again!

  5. Really appreciate your honest review. I was thinking of reading this (just because I loved TTTW) but might just wait to see if they make a movie as you suggest. Everytime I've read the summary I've chosen to purchase something else so far, so that probably means something :)

  6. I love this review, even though you are sad you didn't like the book. Sometimes that happens :-( I hate the feeling of intense anticipation, killed by not enjoying the story at all. SIGH.

  7. Great, honest review. Too bad the book sucked - I am also a big fan of TTTW but have put off reading her next book because I heard it wasn't so great. The deflated feeling of reading a bad book is even worse when it's something you had higher-than-normal expectations for. :(

  8. Good review. I'm in the same boat as you (though I did not read the reviews before), I loved TTTW and was really looking forward to this one and was so disappointed. I did not finish it and that's rare for me, even with bad books.

    I wonder if I would have found it so bad if it was released before TTTW. It was such a fantastic book, I think I expect that out of her all the time now and maybe my reading of this book was coloured by it.

  9. Ive read some really good reviews for this but boy you really didnt like it. Thank you for being honest, I know some people dont like putting bad reviews on their blog but I think it maintains balance. I still might get this, but maybe wait till it comes out on paperback ;)

  10. Thanks for such an honest review. I haven't read either of the books. I will definately check out TTTW, but steer clear of Fearful Symmetry. Thanks for the heads up! I love it when a reviewer tells it like it is.

  11. Wow - I've seen some bad reviews for this book, but not one that so eviscerated it as you did. But it me laugh, in a sad kind of way, because I too really like Niffenegger and TTW. Very well-written review, though...

  12. Thank you all for your comments! I do think that if you are curious about Her Fearful Symmetry you should find out for yourself if you like it. As I stated in my post this is my OPINION it may not be yours. I read some good reviews about HFS book too, unfortunately mine wasn't one positive but some people really enjoyed it. For those of you that haven't ready Time Travelers Wife, you must drop what your doing, run to your local book shop (run past Her Fearful Symmetry) and pick up a copy. In fact you should by two copies of TTTW because you are going to love it really really bad and need a back up copy for when you wear out your first copy.

  13. I didn't read all of your review because I don't want to spoil the book, but I am very sad you didn't like it! I also have high hopes for the book, which means I should probably continue to wait to read it until they simmer down a little. It sounds like this is comparable to Elizabeth Kostova's follow up of The Historian. People were really disappointed with The Swan Thieves (I liked it though) because it wasn't a vampire or historical fiction novel. Thanks for posting your review!
    Alayne - The Crowded Leaf

  14. Just wanted to let you know that there's an award waiting for you over at

    Happy Monday!!!

  15. I don't know how it has taken me so long to come across your beautiful blog, but I found you through Kate and her award (see above). Love your review of HFS. I don't think I disliked the book as much as you did
    (see here: ) but I was certainly disappointed after TTTW.

    I just have to ask about your parting comment (if you like this book, then read The Thirteenth Tale)--does this mean you didn't like The Thirteenth Tale, either?

  16. Kate thank you so much for the award!

    Kathy I am so glad you found me because I just took a look at your blog and I love it! I did like The Thirteenth Tale. I just thought they were on a similar line as far as stories go. The only difference is that The Thirteenth Tale succeeded in being a good story and HFS did not. :)

  17. Sometimes if it doesn't work, then it just doesn't work. I think it's only fair to allow yourself to dislike a book if that's how you feel!

    I had a similar experience with Everything is Illuminated. Oi. That one was a flop for me.

    Great to meet you and I enjoyed the review! Honesty is always the best policy, right?

  18. Great review. I've had to write a couple of bad ones lately, so I appreciate your prologue to this one. I haven't read this one, but from those I know who have, your review echos their sentiments exactly.

  19. I couldn't agree more. The first 300 pages were good... but THEN.... WHAT THEY HECK WAS SHE THINKING WITH THE LAST 100 PAGES???? YOU ARE SO RIGHT.. .it was like she just threw the story away, and for no reason.. Once Valentina said she wanted to fake her death I immediately started skimming because I realized that it had turned to crap... why would she do that out of nowhere.. why would robert agree? Why would Elspeth who up to this point seems like a pretty decent person also go through with it and then just to steal her body...

    sick sick sick. and sooooo dissapointing. I feel like i wasted my time and energy and I can't believe the reviewers gave it positive reviews.. it's like they were seeing the emperor's new clothes just because her first book was good. I am so upset over this piece of garbage, and so glad you captured how bad it was!

  20. It's been 8 months since the last person posted here, but I just had to add my comment. I just finished HFS tonight and I feel quite nauseous. TTTW is one of my all-time favorite books, and although I'd read lukewarm reviews for HFS, I figured I would give it a try. I don't necessarily regret reading it, because now I can tell everyone I know that it is a waste of time. I was very relieved to find your review, because I found so many blogs and personal websites singing its praises, and I was starting to wonder if I was alone in my dislike. Thank you for your honesty! I truly appreciate it, an only wish I'd come across this blog a month or so ago. :)

  21. I am so glad I finally found a negative review about this book. I didn't read any reviews before I read this, and now I am so sad that I did not... This ending has me in a rampage!! How could Elspeth do that to her? To Robert? To Julia??? I hated the ending. Absolutely HATED it. I am so repulsed. What a waste of time... I wanted V and E to duke it out and Valentina somehow persevere and get her body back and make up with Julia in the end. Thank you for writing this so I know someone feels the same as I do.

  22. The two things that elevate TTTW into such an astonishingly remarkable read is (1) the two central characters, who are so active in their pursuit of each other, and (2) the great use of a big fun idea – TIME TRAVEL.

    HFS has a similarly big idea to tackle – GHOSTS! But at every turn, the author makes the mundane choice rather than the exciting one (as pointed out in the review... Ouija board, etc). Also, the characters are completely inactive and unlikeable. They all reminded me of Ingrid from TTW.

    (ps - "waste" not "waist")

    1. Haha! Thank you for the spelling correction. It is funny how many times you can double check something and STILL find a few things wrong!