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Showing 1-10 of 11 reviews(1 star). Show all reviews
on September 22, 2003
The premise is that our heroine is involved in a human chess game that has gone on for centuries. Two stories (from 1793 and 1973) intertwine, and romance and adventure ensue. Or so the author probably hoped.
It was chock-full of confusion (every other character was on some secret mission that was never explained) and name dropping (Let's see: Catherine the Great, George Washington, Napoleon, Robespierre, Ben Franklin, a load of English and French royalty...). Constantly the heroine would run up against handsome men, whose eyes were described for many paragraphs. Their eyes. Over and over. Green eyes. Blue Eyes. Glittering black eyes. I suppose its a little role-reversal fun from James Bond, who has a woman in every port, but I tired quickly of what must be, for some, "romance." Enough with the eyes, aren't you even gonna kiss him?
And as for the "chess" idea, that was just slapped on. There were no "moves." No human "piece" was constrained to move in a certain way. They were all pawns of a writer who was trying to stretch an analogy too thin. Nothing about the book reminded me of chess. This is not Lewis Caroll, where every chapter is really a chess move. The analogy of chess could have been parchisi - there is nothing chesslike about the book at all. Not until the final chapter do you understand who all the players were. Imagine playing a game of chess with checkers, unable to tell a queen from a rook from a pawn, and you'll get an idea of how confusing and pointless this book was.
The chess analogy simply made no sense. She tried to write a female Indiana Jones type story, but then made the mistake of saying it was also a human chess game.
In common with Indiana Jones, this book had a "McGuffin." That's what Alfred Hitchcock used to call the object in a story which all are chasing after. In Indiana Jones, it might be the holy grail, or the lost ark of the covenant. The McGuffin in The Eight is an ancient chess set with magical powers. Not until the last few chapters of the book do you even learn its powers.
Eternal life, okay? That's the power of the chess set everyone wants. There. Now at least if you read this lousy book, you'll understand a tiny bit of why everyone is acting so weird all the time. Oh, and the guy with the green eyes is the one she ends up with. And the heroine is (unwittingly) the white queen.
This book was recommended by Amazon, since I liked the excellent "Da Vinci code." They probably got a shipment of these cheap, or something.
It is not a good story. It is not well told. You will be able to put it down. I just did.
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on November 15, 2002
Oh wait, Katherine Neville wasn't TRYING to be funny? Even better! How do I hate this book? Let me count the ways ...
We're lucky that each male character has a unique name, because otherwise we wouldn't be able to tell them apart. Ms Neville has given us a generic "man" that we're apparently stuck with. There really ARE ways to reveal character traits .. but you won't learn any of them by reading this book.
The actions are ridiculous and unbelievable. At one point, two characters are between a car that is being shot at, and a balcony where a concealed shooter is standing. What do they do? Stand there and look around, of course! Look at the car awhile, look at the balcony awhile. No hurry. In time, they figure there might be some danger, so they hop into the car. The first thing they then do? Why, they go out for a good steak. Wouldn't you? I laughed so hard I couldn't read any further for some time ...
Unfortunately I had to finish, because it was a Book Club choice. Oy vey!
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on September 29, 2001
Unbelievably bad. I'm not sure where to start. Perhaps if I were a 12-year-old girl who wanted to read about romance and eighteenth-century France and exciting NYC and junior-high-history-class-caricatures and sassy heroines and magic and jewels and four-poster beds in snuggly boudoirs and charming, roguish, royal love interests with long, curly locks, ... Perhaps then I might enjoy this tripe.
Embarrassingly bad. Klunky, adjective-laden prose. Zero-dimensional characters. Preposterous dialogue. Long, tedious descriptions of apartments and wardrobe and dancing eyes, a la Harlequin. There is much swooning. There is much "little-did-I-know"ing. There is incompetent, incoherent plotting. There is no suspense-building. No. There are intellectual pretensions. Yes. Ah, there is swooning.
God help us, if this is what constitutes a bestseller these days. I am depressed. I am so depressed...
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on November 25, 1999
I'd not have read the book, except I promised someone I would, in exchange for getting a discount on a chess set. I paid too much for that discount. While I was sufficiently intrigued to see how the book came out (very disappointingly -- she couldn't figure out how to wrap it up), I resented the author (for her tedious writing) and the heroine. Too much is too preposterous. The Heroine happens to have just the right friends and just the right insights. There's far too much historical name-dropping to be credible. This might be a talented author -- perhaps -- but she's produced a disappointing book filled with shallow magic, shallower characters, and only the tiniest shred of a satisfying plot twist at the end. By the way, Ms. Neville, not everyone was someone famous in a former life.
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on March 20, 2003
What starts as moderately interesting just begins in a downward spiral as the author insists on making the plot more ludicrous with everyone page. While the concept of weaving a story around seamingly separate true historical characters is a nice concept, Neville really takes it too far and makes it into a global conspiracy extending back thousands of years. Ridiculous does not even begin to describe this book. Bored does not even begin to describe the experience of reading it. If you MUST read this book, read her subsequent book The Magic Circle first. That one is so painful that it makes The Eight seem like a gift from the gods.
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on September 21, 2000
The book could have done with better editing, in fact, the editor must have been out to lunch. As it is, it's tedious and often akwardly written. The frequently elaborate descriptions of personae, places, furniture, what have you, remind one of a romance novel rather than a thriller.
As a thriller, is doesn't move well either.
Also, the reader is left to guess which of the stories are historically accurate. An afterword explaining research and what's historical and what are the author's license and invention, as well a bibliography, is missing, inexcusable in my opinion in an ambitious book such as this one.
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on May 8, 2003
My " Strategy" is to buy books with an Average Customer Review of 4 1/2 or 5 stars. It has worked well (I've bought and enjoyed The Firm, Jurassic Park, And Then There Were None, The Other Side of Midnight, etc.). However my Strategy failed me on The Eight. It was boring to me. I had to work hard to get through all 598 pages.
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on October 21, 2002
if you want to read a book that's actually intelligently written, and not sophomorically bad...try foucault's pendulum (eco) or the name of the rose (eco) instead. the development and depth of this book is of kindergarten-level quality, at best. but if you are dull, you'll love this book!!!
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on October 18, 2003
I've tried four times now to get into this book and now give up. I feel like I'm sloughing thru mud. The story and words are so heavy! Waste of my money.
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on April 7, 2004
someone recommended this book to me, knowing that i enjoyed eco's novels (esp. foucault's pendulum); needless to say, i have not taken anything seriously that that person has said to me since i finished reading this pitiful 'book'.
don't be fooled by some idiot recommending this to you, it is a very very very very poor novel.
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