There are certain things that you learn about a blogger the longer you read their reviews. I hope you know, for instance, that I don’t mind not finishing a book. I don’t mind discarding a book if it’s not keeping my attention, but it’s a lot harder to justify doing that for a blog tour. So I tried. I really tried very hard to finish My God, What Have We Done, but I just got to the point where I realized that I was spending so much of time convincing myself to read the book, convincing myself to just pick it up and read. It just wasn’t worth it after a while. I read almost 200 pages and I just don’t think my reaction would be any different after nearly 500. Frankly, as soon as I made the decision not to finish the book, I felt relieved.
I think where My God, What Have We Done failed was twofold. First, the connection with Oppenheimer and the Manhattan project would have been as poignant without the unnecessary sections that tried to detail Oppenheimer’s life. Unfortunately those sections were dry and, beyond not holding my attention, were also unbelievable. I’m sure Weiss did a significant amount of research, but I just couldn’t find it in myself to believe the way she told the story. I could turn to any of these pages and point to woody dialogue, awkward phrasing, characters that simply didn’t feel real.
I’ve been reading the reviews of this one on the tour to see if other bloggers felt similarly. I was especially interested in Steph’s review, in which she expressed extreme dislike for Pauline. And while I have to agree that I didn’t necessarily like Pauline, I actually enjoyed reading about her. Especially after the birth of Jasper, I thought Weiss hit her stride describing the life and attitude of Pauline as a mother. If this had been the tone of the entire novel, I certainly would have kept reading, even though the sections with Pauline as a narrator were not without fault. The nonlinear timing of the story could have been a useful storytelling tactic, but instead felt gimmicky and confusing. Pauline is a frustrating narrator, but at least she is consistent and most of all, I believed in her and her voice. Like Steph, I found myself skipping over the sections that described Oppenheimer and his life almost completely. I would skim here and there for important information, but I wouldn’t spend too much time on them.
I hate to not finish a book for a tour, but I don’t think reading the last 300 pages of this one would have given me any different a perspective than the first 200. Pauline’s obsession with Oppenheimer was interesting, but I think, in the end, her point is obvious and a little heavy handed. But Pauline is the kind of person who would love a heavy handed metaphor, so maybe it works.
Thank you TLC Book Tours for sending me this book to review. You can find out more about the tour, including past and future tour stops, here.