Monday, March 2, 2015

Things Fall Apart

 Things Fall Apart is written by Chinua Achebe and is the first book in The African Trilogy.  It is told from the perspective of a Nigerian Tribe as Christianity is thrust upon their world in the late 19th Century.  

I knew that this book was one that was critically acclaimed and perhaps that made me go into it with certain expectations.  With that being said, I definitely wouldn’t want to read this book again for many reasons.  

Let’s start with talking about the good aspects of the book.  At the time that it was written, Chinua Achebe led the charge with showing a Nigerian perspective of the Imperialist takeover of West Africa of the late 9th century.  As far as the book itself, I have to praise Chinua for taking an overall view in the description of life.  He manages to portray both the good and bad of the tribes that the reader follows throughout the story, and still shows a predominantly unbiased approach to the missionaries and their dealings.  

My biggest complaint about this book is the telling of it.  It told from an omnipotent narrative, that predominantly follows the life of Okonkwo, a revered Nigerian warrior.  The book can most be related to thinking within one’s mind.  When you are thinking about something such as ice cream, and then you describe it in detail and then it makes you think about food in general such as pizza, and then you think about Italy and then you try to remember what you were originally thinking about and you go back to the flavor of the ice cream.  Part one of the book was the worst about this.  The book was jumping around so much.  It would topic jump and then back track and retell part of the story and then jump again, and then go back to the same story later.  It was quite annoying to read, and disrupted the flow of the book quite extensively.  

I also wished for more descriptions.  I don’t know why I have encountered so many book recently that completely left off the physical descriptors of the people.  It is hard to become immersed within a story if the author fails to paint the full picture for you.  I had to look up pictures of 1890s era Nigerian tribal members to try to get a feel for what was going on at the time, and to try to bring the characters to life for me.  

My other problem in connecting with this book was that Part One took up almost 60% of the book being about the indigenous people, daily life, and beliefs, and then Part Two is in his mother’s village and the Christian missionaries are coming into their life, and the Part Three is very abrupt with Christianity thrust upon them. 
After all that, the end was very dissatisfying and left me saying…  “Wait, what?”  I don’t want to spoil it, but I feel that the end of the book went against Okonkwo’s nature as a warrior and in his belief that he would do such a thing.  

Overall I give the book 2 out of 5 stars.  I love the attempt that was made.  I wish this book had better flow.  It was a painful read for me to get through it.  I did love Okonkwo’s daughter, and it would be interesting to hear a book told from her point of view.  I get that it was nice to see something from this perspective and I can appreciate the subject material.  The bottom line for me is that if you strip that away and just look at this as a story, it is severely lacking in star quality.  It is a good read if you are interested in classics, historical fiction, Nigeria, British imperialism of west Africa, Christianity, Indigenous beliefs in Africa, the Igbos, etc.

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