Book Review—Marshlands by Matthew Olshan

So I read “Marshlands” by Matthew Olshan in a day.  This book, out in hardcover, is about some kind of occupation in some kind of country and a surgeon who committed some kind of crime which got him thrown in jail for 10 years or so.  The story starts out with the man’s release and tells his story in three sections: after release, just before the crime, and one more section in the past explaining his motivation behind the future crime. Although I enjoyed it enough to finish in a day, if asked whether I liked it or not overall, I would have to go with the answer: not really.

To be honest, the summary of the book on the jacket led me to believe that I was getting into something semi-fantastical.  Although I didn’t find anything of the sort, I thought the first third of the book had a fantasy-like quality to the telling of its triple mystery (where is this, what is this war, and what did the man do) and enjoyed pondering about where it all was going.  However, in the second and third sections when the mysteries are revealed, I was a little disappointed.  I won’t give it away, but once the mystery of “what did the man do” was revealed, my interest started to fizzle. The story and the writing were wonderful, but the plot fell into a predictable pattern that unfortunately didn’t add anything new to the classic “occupation”-type novels of the past.

In all, it was the same story told in a different way that was not quite different enough to merit the sameness. That being said, my interpretation has a lot of room to be argued with and I think some people may be able to enjoy it very much.  So while I don’t recommend it, I think you should give it a try if the jacket strikes your fancy.

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About Annie McGovern

MA in Science and Medical Writing; Creative Writing BA; consumes books and science for sustenance (and tea); questionable Korean language skills; end
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Fiction and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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