Thursday, April 5, 2012

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

Her Fearful Symmetry
Audrey Niffenegger
Published 2009 by Jonathan Cape Ltd. (Simon & Schuster)
My Goodreads rating: 2 stars

Bite-Sized Review
I wanted to like this book, but really couldn't. It was just too strange. Plot flow is like a melody – not really something you notice in detail until it's different from what you expect. That was Her Fearful Symmetry, and not in a positive way.

King-Sized Review
Her Fearful Symmetry was a weird, weird book. And not in a good way. On her deathbed, Elspeth decides to leave her London apartment to her twin's twin daughters. Valentina and Julia pack their things and leave America for England, having no idea what they'll find there.

So many things about this book were just strange. The romance was kind of (read: really) creepy, the whole storyline didn't make any narrative sense, and it was all just really (to overuse a word) weird. It wasn't that decisions weren't in character, which is my usual complaint when I say things don't make sense, but that events didn't fit with the flow of a story. There was no reason, narratively speaking, for certain things, which just left me feeling unsatisfied with the book.

At first, I thought the twin connection was going to be interesting and maybe borderline supernatural, but if anything, it was the antagonist of the story. Being twins caused people to make some really questionable decisions in the book. Instead, the paranormal element of the story involved ghosts, which was somehow extraordinarily prosaic. This is the sort of book where the ghosts should be mysterious and their presence should cause you to question the characters' sanity and truthfulness, but the reality was entirely the opposite.

If you're thinking about picking this one up because you loved The Time Traveler's Wife, I'd honestly advise you not to. While they have bad things in common (see two paragraphs ago), Her Fearful Symmetry lacks the emotion and addictive quality of Niffenegger's more famous novel.

Quality: Fair
Enjoyability: Poor

In the same aisle
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Regina's Song by David and Leigh Eddings


  1. I keep hearing bad things and keep hoping that they're not true and I WILL like it but I'm startng to doubt I will! Such a shame! I wonder why she got it so wrong after the loveliness of The Time Traveller's Wife?! x

  2. I actually didn't mind this book! I try very hard to not think of other books by the authors when I'm reading another book by them ... especially if they wrote a book I just loved. Great review!

  3. I'm so sorry you didn't enjoy this one. I thought it looked really good.

  4. I wasn't a big fan of this novel either. Weird is definitely how I would describe it, too.

  5. That is too bad, really. The title and the cover almost lured me in, but I definitely won't be reading this now. Emotionally empty novels are something I try to avoid at all costs.
    Thanks for the warning, Kate. Wonderful review, as always.
    And did I mention how much I like the new header? :)

  6. Awww, dang. I loved this book lol. But I do agree that Time Traveler's Wife was better. I just liked the more creepy aspects of this one. It really had me guessing. Sorry you didn't like it!

  7. Thanks for the comments, everyone! I love hearing so many different opinions!


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