Monday, January 31, 2011

The Ha-Ha

by David King

This is a good book. The plot feels entirely original and it's an interesting story line. However, this book for me falls every so slightly short. It isn't enveloping the way I'd like it to be. It's the kind of book you can pick up and read during commercial breaks or at a baseball game, paying half attention to both. I wanted more from this book.

I wanted Howie to make progress. He's a smart and incredibly observant, intuitive character, but very little of that gets expressed or noticed by anyone around him. I was hoping that he and Ryan would develop a kind of sign language to enable them to converse. But Howie sticks to nodding and shrugging and makes no progress. To be fair though, Howie did progress: Ryan's presence changed Howie on the inside and changed the whole regimen of the household, but little of that was evidenced though Howie's communication skills, and I think is should have. It was a little disappointing.

However I was very happy with the way Howie and Sylvia's relationship ended up. She was a manipulative, designing, ungrateful bitch. I hated her from the start and railed against Howie every time he thought of her lovingly. She wasn't deserving of his love and devotion. So in the end, I was satisfied.

The last ten chapters of the book are brilliantly written; they're the best in the book. Initially I was thinking this book reads like a first novel: it was lacking in fluidity and solidarity, which is why I couldn't get as invested in the story as I wanted. But the last ten chapters more than make up for any shortcomings and show that King is an excellent story teller and at times poetic.

"The Ha-Ha" has its moments of repetition and slow-going, but on the whole the book has a great story and has a completely satisfying ending. If you're looking for a way to fill up some free time during your day, if your New Year's resolution was to start reading more, I would say this is a good book to pick up.

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