Review: Little Fires Everywhere

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If half stars were available on Goodreads I'd give this book a 3 and a half, as it's not really a three, but not quite a four for me either.

I just did not find this book as compelling as it appears most others have. It's not quite a direct comparison, but to me it felt like a muted variation on "Ordinary People" - well written and thoughtful but in the end with not much new to say.

To me this book was one long set of character studies, carefully arranged and written with enough "slant" to lead you to a conclusion that the author had predetermined. The plot is minimal, and you are into chapter 13 before the first important plot turn happens. I found myself frustrated that it was taking so long to get to the point. I guess that's because the characters, although they are very fully developed, each seemed pretty stereotypical in their own way. There's not much unexpected about any of them, and for me that really "flattened" the story. Interestingly, the only character not fully developed is the one around which the central plot point revolves, and perhaps that's as intended.

I listened to the audiobook and I found Jennifer Lim's narration to be fantastic. The characters are so well developed, and she found a "voice" for each one that complemented the text without getting in the way.