This is a hard book to sum up. It is a beast of a book and it took me a month to get through its close to 800 pages. The language is dense and descriptive, overly descriptive at time, but also beautiful. The language will probably be a hang up for some with this book. While I don't mind verbose writers (to a certain extent), even I felt like I needed a machete to hack through the wilderness that was the language of this novel. While I never found the descriptions to be redundant, they were a bit overkill at times. It is not always necessary to take two pages to describe something, when it can be accomplished in a paragraph or two.
"The plans for the city were drawn on the same table as the plans for war. It promises nothing, and yet it can be inimitable generous."
On the other hand, there were some descriptions that I appreciated, especially when it came to the portrayal of New York City. Growing up in New York State, I spent a lot of time in the city. It is one of my favorite places in the world and it has always had a magical quality to it. While NYC is the setting of this novel, it comes across as a living, breathing character and it is an integral part of the story. Because the language is dense, this is not a quick read and I found myself having to reread passages at times to understand. Yet, there were many passages that were rather profound and had me stopping to consider them.
"No one ever said that you would live to see the repercussions of everything you do, or that you have guarantees, or that you are not obliged to wander in the dark, or that everything will be proved to you and neatly verified like something in science. Nothing is: at least nothing that is worthwhile."
"The beauty of the truth is that it need not be proclaimed or believed. It skips from soul to soul, changing form each time it touches, but it is what it is, I have seen it, and someday you will, too."
My biggest issue with the novel is it's non-ending. It is one of those books where the author leaves it up to the reader to decide what happens in the end. I am not a big fan of books that end this way, especially after plugging my way through almost 800 pages. While some may like this, I don't. It actually really annoys me. I want to be told what happens in the end and it better all end happily, in my opinion. Books that end like this always feel unfinished.
In the end, I would say that I liked this novel, but didn't love it. I picked this novel up because I wanted to see the movie, but having read the book, I'm glad that I didn't pay to go see the movie in the theaters. I am not sure how they managed to adapt this novel for the big screen, but I have a feeling many changes were made. This book requires a commitment. I had hoped that maybe it would become a favorite of mine, but that did not happen. I think this is a one time read for me and don't see myself returning to this one.