Demon Copperhead – Barbara Kingsolver

Published By: Faber
Pages: 560
Released On: 18/10/2022

Demon’s story begins with his traumatic birth to a single mother in a single-wide trailer, looking ‘like a little blue prizefighter.’ For the life ahead of him he would need all of that fighting spirit, along with buckets of charm, a quick wit, and some unexpected talents, legal and otherwise.

In the southern Appalachian Mountains of Virginia, poverty isn’t an idea, it’s as natural as the grass grows. For a generation growing up in this world, at the heart of the modern opioid crisis, addiction isn’t an abstraction, it’s neighbours, parents, and friends. ‘Family’ could mean love, or reluctant foster care. For Demon, born on the wrong side of luck, the affection and safety he craves is as remote as the ocean he dreams of seeing one day. The wonder is in how far he’s willing to travel to try and get there.

*****

I don’t normally post reviews of books I don’t finish, but with this being such a high-profile book, I felt it was still worth it.

As anyone who knows me, I am a big Charles Dickens fan. Huge. Especially A Christmas Carol, but generally anything Dickens. So whilst I’d heard nothing but five stars for this, I was wary as I don’t believe anything can adapt a Dickens novel and make it worthwhile.

And honestly? It didn’t.

I didn’t see the link whatsoever. Other than it being a young man down on his luck and tying to better himself. I just couldn’t figure out why it had been linked at it.

And it was also over 500 pages long. Seldom does a novel warrant being that long, I often find it is full of unnecessary filler, and I felt I was proved right with this.

It’s written in a way that almost like a stream of consciousness. It doesn’t always make sense written down on a page which meant it was really difficult to follow the plot or gain any opinion on the characters.

I have this gut feeling that she wanted this to be the next amazing “great American novel” and it just fell completely short. It felt too pretentious and too aware of itself. Like the book knew it was meant to be this great novel and it was fighting it the whole way. It also felt a bit like painting by numbers – you should think this, you should feel this, you should praise me.

I do try and read at least 1/4 of a book before I decide if I’m going to stop, but after about 100 pages of this I just couldn’t bring myself to continue. I wanted to. I really wanted to. But I couldn’t. I’ve got so many other books to read and there wasn’t anything keeping me reading it.

I really tried with this, and I don’t like writing bad reviews, I always try to find the positives but for me (and I stress the fact that I seem to be in the minority here and this is only my opinion) I could find no positives. Definitely not for me.

This was my first Barbara Kingsolver novel, and sadly if it’s anything to go by, I probably won’t be picking any others up.

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