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The Rise & Fall of Great Powers by Tom…

The Rise & Fall of Great Powers

by Tom Rachman

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Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
THE RISE AND FALL OF GREAT POWERS--maybe by the end of this book that title is explained. I'll never know, though, because I can't get past page 103. Although this book has received many great reviews, I disliked it before I got to page 50. I read further because of those reviews.

This seems to be one story told, at various points, in 2011 or 1999 or 1988. The only reason the story is "mysterious," as other reviews have described it, is because we skip around from one of those years to another, back and forth, sometimes skipping 20 years, sometimes 10. I wouldn't call it mysterious, though; I'd call it disjointed. Plus, by page 103, I still didn't understand any of the characters--they're all weird--and Rachman still hasn't explained what is going on.

Perhaps it isn't fair to review a book that I haven't entirely read. But it looks like other readers had the same problem with it that I did, so I'm joining in to agree.

That makes me wonder how many others had this experience with THE RISE AND FALL OF GREAT POWERS; thousands? Will those people, like me, never want to read this author's books again? Perhaps all authors should heed this advice: get to the point soon before you lose your readers.

I won this book as an advanced reader's edition from Random House. ( )
  techeditor | Oct 10, 2014 |

Read all my reviews on http://urlphantomhive.booklikes.com

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review, thank you!

I hadn't read Tom Rachman's first book, The Imperfectionists, but after I found out this book was about a woman owning a book shop, I wanted to read this. Just don't get your hopes up too high, because unfortunately there's very few book shop in this book.

There is however, an interesting story, that takes a while to unravel but kept me wondering exactly what happened in Bangkok and who are all these people involved. The ending wasn't completely satisfying, but I think it fitted the book.

I don't think this is a novel for everyone. In the beginning it was extremely slow, and especially the 2011-storyline had some troubles to keep my attention. But once it is clear something is going on, it didn't bother me any more. It was not a very easy or light read (perhaps I've just read too much YA lately) but an enjoyable one all the same. I just happened to be in my book shop last week (surprise!) and there The Rise And Fall Of Great Powers was the English book of the month. ( )
  Floratina | Sep 25, 2014 |
I had really enjoyed Tom Rachman's first novel and had great expectations for this one. It starts a little slow, creates suspense and does good justice to the story as it unfolds. The story is set in three time frames and we follow Tolly at the age of ten, twenty one and thirty two. To say something about this story would be revealing too much.

It's a above average read but needs a little patience. ( )
  mausergem | Sep 20, 2014 |
Ehhh... what can I say? Despite the superior writing and intimate, original characterizations, I didn't come away a fan of this novel. And perhaps, I missed the point of it all. Had I read it in an English seminar or discussion group, I may have a more favorable opinion. As it is, it fell rather flat for me.

First of all, all the characters were terribly narcissistic and self-interested. I don't have a problem with this, as a rule (see also: my new-found love for Herman Koch, but I have to feel like the author is intentionally making the characters unlikable - except Humph (I have all the love in the world for Humphrey). Here, Rachman seemed to make the characters simultaneously despicable and appealing. That lent some depth to the main players, certainly, but there was a cold or distancing edge to all of them that kept me from truly connecting with their feelings or motivations.

Second, it took a tremendous amount of patience and stick-to-it-tiveness to even get through the read. The book oscillates between the past and the present with great frequency, leaving the reader to fumble through encounters that have had no previous introduction or segway. It was startling and confusing to flip between Tooly's past and the present. It was like trying to complete a puzzle without any straight-edged pieces. No frame of reference to indicate who certain characters may be in relation to Tooly. No set relationships upon which to draw a family-tree of sorts. The reader wants answers about the past just as badly as Tooly; however, the answers that were finally provided were lackluster and disappointing.

I have to say that this is a book that does get better as it goes on, but, then fell off somewhere near the end. It SHOULD have been a five star read due to the talent and skill of the author, but it wasn't. It was a "meh" on the scale of one to awesome. I really almost feel that it may have be a me thing - that it's my own fault that I'm not swoony over this one. Regardless, many thanks to NetGalley who provided a galley of this novel (it seems like ages ago - and was ages ago as I finished it at the end of July. Sometimes life gets in the way of prompt reviews. My many apologies, as well). ( )
1 vote myownwoman | Sep 11, 2014 |
I hate giving up on a book. HATE it. My eyes keep glazing over reading this one though. I should love it. I mean Tooley owns a bookstore! Which I haven't heard her mention much of yet in the book.
I think this might be one of those love or hate books and of course here I am hating. I can't figure out what the hell is going on in it.
DNF at 30%

But look! I'm using Brad Pitt...so it's not all bad.

I received an ARC copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  bookqueenshelby | Sep 9, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 42 (next | show all)
Tom Rachman’s ingenious second novel, “The Rise and Fall of Great Powers,” is harder to describe than “The Imperfectionists,” his sensational first.
The richness of this book is more apparent once the reading is over. In other words, “The Rise and Fall of Great Powers” is knottier than “The Imperfectionists,” and more deliberately confusing.
added by sneuper | editNew York Times, Janet Maslin (Jun 10, 2014)
Mingling these time frames and withholding explanations about characters’ relations to each other, Rachman raises the stakes of this minor mystery somewhat higher than the novel can ultimately afford.
Now beyond resentment or blame, she just wants a usable past and someone worthy of her tender heart. Rachman is certainly such a person, and in these pages, you may discover that you are, too.
added by sneuper | editWashington Post, Ron Charles (Jun 10, 2014)
To my taste, at least at the outset, Rachman steers dangerously close to being merely whimsical. There's something slightly cutesy about the wall-to-wall eccentricity, something slightly precious about the fey withholding of information from the reader.
I had a little snooze on page 40, but by page 340 I was bolt awake. I'll keep The Rise and Fall of Great Powers on my shelf.
added by sneuper | editthe Guardian, Sam Leith (Jun 5, 2014)
Some novels are such good company that you don’t want them to end; Tom Rachman knows this, and has pulled off the feat of writing one.
All this amounts to a touching story of fallen idols, with brilliant insight into misplaced loyalties, and the power that adults have over children. Rachman has written a hugely likeable, even loveable book about the people we meet and how they shape us.
added by sneuper | editthe Telegraph, Lucy Daniel (Jun 4, 2010)

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tom Rachmanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Stheeman, TjadineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Voorhoeve, OnnoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385676956, Hardcover)

The New York Times and Globe & Mail-bestselling author of The Imperfectionists returns with an intricately woven novel about a bookseller who travels the world to make sense of her puzzling past.
     Tooly Zylberberg tells a story: as a child, she was stolen from home, stashed at a den of thieves, then adopted by crooks there, who ended up raising her and even using the little girl in capers around the globe. But Tooly understands only fragments of what happened in Thailand, Italy, New York and beyond. Then, a desperate message reaches her musty bookshop in Wales, and she is lured into a journey that will reveal the secret of her childhood. Celebrated for his ingenious plotting, humanity and humor, Tom Rachman has written a novel that will amplify his reputation as one of the most exciting young writers today.

(retrieved from Amazon Fri, 10 Jan 2014 17:56:13 -0500)

Tooly Zylberberg, the American owner of an isolated bookshop in the Welsh countryside, conducts a life full of reading, but with few human beings. Books are safer than people, who might ask awkward questions about her life. She prefers never to mention the strange events of her youth. Tooly believes she will never know the true story of her own life. Then startling news arrives from a long-lost boyfriend, raising old mysteries and propelling her on a quest around the world in search for answers.… (more)

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