Saturday, 3 January 2015

Book Review: The Gift

I have loved Cecelia Ahern ever since first reading her novel P.S. I Love You. I’ll admit that I jumped on the bandwagon a bit with that book but come on, I was only 11 when it was first published! Ever since reading PS I Love You, I have always bought Cecelia’s books almost immediately after their release and I especially loved the presentation of The Gift.
With shiny silver bows on a matte silver background and a gift tag revealing the novel's name and author, this book is designed to look like a gift, especially when you turn it around and see the folds of paper on the back as though it were a wrapped present. What was even nicer about this is that it originally came with a sheer red ribbon tied in a bow around the book to really add to the finish of the presentation. With the presentation of the novel being so high and unique to what I had ever seen before, I had high hopes about the actual content inside the covers and I can’t say that I was disappointed.

The book starts off with a teenage boy throwing a frozen turkey through the window of a home. He is caught by police and taken to the station, where an elder officer - named Raphie - begins to tell him a Christmas story about a man named Lou.
The main bulk of the story continues with Lou, who we learn is a workaholic that would rather spend time at the office as opposed to being with his wife and two children. We see him constantly break plans with his family in order to succeed at work to try and get a coveted promotion but when he offers a homeless man - Gabe - a job at the company he works for, he begins questioning this man’s motives.
Before long, Lou, with the assistance of Gabe, finds himself learning what is really important in life: family or work.

The Good
First of all, I have to state how much I love Cecelia Ahern’s exquisite writing style. I find she has a near-unique way with words and finds the most descriptive metaphors to really paint the perfect picture inside the reader’s mind. I highlighted a few sentences from the book to share with you to emphasise this: “She smiled but it never reached her eyes, fading somewhere between her lips and the bridge of her nose”, “He succeeded in clapping once before the applause died down, one single clap that sounded more like a balloon had burst.
I think her writing style is such that it made the novel so easy to read and I was flying up the page numbers without realising just how much I had read. It was as though one moment I was on page seven and the next I was on seventy, which I attribute down to her writing style.
If you have read a few of my book reviews, you will know that chapter length is something I care about and I found that the chapters in this novel were (overall) perfect. There were some that I felt slightly too long but generally they were the perfect length and they helped progress the novel at a quick pace.
The characters are very believable: as much as the main character - Lou Suffern - can be massively selfish, his flaws make him real and believable and, even though there were times when I wanted to jump in the book to strangle him, it was easy to see how and when his character started transforming his life, which pushed me to read further.

The Bad
For probably about half of the book, I felt as though there was no plot. Don’t get me wrong, it was still very easy to read, but there were times when I would stop and think “what is happening here?” and realise that, while we were learning more about Lou, we weren’t really seeing a plot develop. This may be because I have read the book before so I wasn’t viewing it with fresh eyes, but at the same time I felt the book was so easy to read that I almost didn’t mind the plotlessness for that proportion of the book.
When Lou starts to learn what is important in his life, I felt as though there was an unnaturally quick turn around in his personality. This book is set around the Christmas period, I believe it may be set within a ten-day period or so, and Lou had a massive change in his personality in that short amount of time - almost an impossibly big change. Personally, I felt as though the short timescale made the change and the book seem a little less believable and real.
The ending was slightly predictable… The reason I end this with an ellipsis is because it also isn’t predictable. The novel gets to a certain point whereby you can just tell what is going to happen, though this point in the book is only about fifteen pages from the end, just before the big climax, so the novel isn’t ruined from the halfway mark. However, at the same time it isn’t predictable as it is such a shocking and surprising ending that I never would have thought Cecelia would have written!

The Ugly
A couple more things that I personally didn’t like about this novel are that there are some very descriptive - and to me, pointless - scenes during the book. They do add to the air of the novel but I was very much in the mindset that I wanted to read about what was happening to Lou, as opposed to where they were and what they could see around the skyline at that particular time. There was also a scene about sailing that I didn’t like, simply because I have never been sailing before. Cecelia used sailing terminology about a spinnaker and a genoa and, since I am not a sailer, the entire scene was lost on me and it made me want to skip that part of the novel.
This novel really tugged on my heartstrings. When I hit the climax, I was fighting back the tears. The scenes in the plot, the way in which she writes and the expansion of the characters was very heartwarming and I couldn’t help imagine me or my boyfriend in Lou’s situation and how much it would affect me.

Overall, I loved the book. It definitely opened my eyes and made me evaluate my life and realise that life is infinitely more important than pleasing people, than work, than accomplishments and achievements: what is more important than spending time with your family? After all, you can earn more money, but you can never earn more time. Once an hour goes by, a week, a month, a year, you’ll never get them back. Time is more precious than gold mor precious than diamonds, more precious than oil or any valuable treasures. It is time that we do not have enough of, it is time that causes the war within our hearts and so we must spend it wisely. Time cannot be packaged and ribboned and left under trees for Christmas morning. Time can’t be given. But it can be shared.

Entertainment: 9/10
Predictability: 3/10
Density/weight of story: 7/10 (the message is what causes this novel to score so highly)
Quality of writing: 9/10
Inspires reader: 9/10
Characters: 8/10
Overall rating: 9/10

Have you read this novel? What did you think?

- Taisie ♥ | Bloglovin ♥ Twitter ♥ Tumblr ♥ Pinterest ♥ Instagram

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