Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Review: The Great Gatsby

Is The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, great? 

The Great Gatsby is an incredibly well-known book. Practically every high school student is required to read it, and I am no exception.
I tried to go into this book with an open mind, seeing as the people I have met and talked to about it seem to either love it and think it is one of the most brilliant books ever to be written--or they hate it. With a passion. So where do I lie on the spectrum? 
The Great Gatsby is set in the roaring twenties, and the setting feels very rich. It is narrated by Nick Carraway, and it is about the fashionable and careless world of the time, and a very mysterious man: Jay Gatsby.
The book is written in a rhythmic, decadent style. Fitzgerald must have loved his thesaurus. It has a rather pretentious and over written feel, at least to me, but that almost enhances the tone of the book. I think it works perfectly, and some of the passages are quite beautiful. Considering I have been quoting the book as well (much to the annoyance of my mother) you could say that I liked the writing quite a lot. 
The characters of The Great Gatsby are not very likable. In fact, I did not find a single one of them to be a good person. And yet they are still compelling to read about, and despite their selfish, shallow ways, they feel realistic. 
The book was strangely intriguing to me. I can see why it can be considered boring, but much like with a soap opera, I was fascinated in spite of myself. I loved the dynamics between all these horrible people, and I loved the drama of the story. It was terribly pretentious and yet terribly entertaining. Fitzgerald even manages to interject some great humor into the short novel, and I found myself chuckling throughout the book, which I did not expect to happen. 
That being said, I didn’t love it. It won’t appear on my shelf of favorites, and I do think it is a bit overrated. There was something about America’s famous novella about the American dream that I found difficult to connect with. Perhaps it was the characters, who are not likable. Perhaps it was the plot, or the themes, or even the writing. Whatever the reason, it is never going to end up as something that I recommend to everyone I see, or will herald as one of the greatest books I have read. I liked it, and I think it made some very interesting points, but that is all the impression it made. 
Long story short, should you read it? If you want to see what all the fuss is about, sure. You may love it, or you may hate it, or simply be interested like me. But I think considering the impact the book has on pop culture, it is definitely worth reading, and beyond that, it is a good book. 

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