First sentence: “Marianne answers the door when Connell rings the bell.”
It’s a bad sign when you start a book—that everybody you knew was raving about how “dark and gritty” and “psychological” it is—and come out of the first few pages knowing that you won’t like this book and no matter how much you push yourself into reading more, it won’t change your mind. Normal People is that book.
My association of “dark and gritty” and “psychological” seem to be different than the friends and co-workers who keep recommending me this book. The events that happen—which I asked my co-worker to spoil me because I didn’t care—consist of subjects like [spoiler title=”What subjects?” open=”no” style=”simple” icon=”chevron-circle”]BDSM, sexual deviancy, depression, and eating disorders,[/spoiler] which are dark but I don’t feel like it’s an apt descriptor of these tough subject matter.
A few things prevented me from getting on the Normal People train, and it was a lot to do with the way it was written. Normal People feels like it was written as a screenplay, and it somehow turned into a book instead. (Keep in mind, there will be a tv series on this book). The book lacked quotation marks, which I had no issue with, and the narrative was more “tell the story,” instead of “show.” Everything these characters did were robotic—in the sense that it felt like they were completing a list of directional cues than describing and exploring the depths of these characters.
Because of the way it was written, I had a hard time connecting with these characters. Things that happened to them only made me exasperated by how I don’t understand their actions or their words. It’s hard to imagine these as real human beings when they act like very wooden actors reciting what should be emotional lines with no tone. You’re dropped in, as if you’re expected to already know about these characters.
It’s a strange experience when the narrative doesn’t communicate to the reader why these characters do the things they do, despite getting Connell’s and Marianne’s points of views throughout the book. The lack of communication between the two (and mainly to the reader) drove me crazy; it was certainly believable to a certain point, but at times, you realize how lacking these characters are because of how you still don’t really know them—how the self-destruction hadn’t been cultivated well enough to understand the roads that lead to this. Connell and Marianne aren’t treated like real human beings, more like vehicles for these tough things to happen.
Maybe the TV series will do a better job of portraying these characters. I’ll probably give that a chance.
Should you read Normal People? Uhhhhhh, hahaha, no. I wouldn’t recommend this. It’s not for everybody. Maybe wait for the tv series.