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  • ★★★-3.5

Review: House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski (Spoiler-Free)

3.5 stars.

Reading this book became much more enjoyable once I realized you can just read the parts you want to read. Seriously. Don't bother reading every word of Johnny's verbose tangents, or every analysis on the psychology of the characters from made up sources, and definitely don't bother reading every word of the countless lists of random names and materials scattered throughout. There is a compelling narrative (or a few...) buried within all the excess, and I'd recommend just reading that part (or whatever parts interest you the most).

This book is definitely unique, I'll give it that. It can be interpreted in an infinite number of ways, yet I don't think I even have a solid interpretation myself. I enjoyed the Navidson story the most out of everything, though I wish we were given some more concrete answers. I know that's not the point, but the ending left me wanting, not more because oh god I could not get through even more pages of this, but something else. I did read the majority of Johnny's story as well (and all of his mom's), but I found that portion much less rewarding.

I also didn't really find this book to be all that scary. Sure, if I was in these characters' situation, I would be horrified, but nothing ever felt like it was a horror I would experience in the real world. That's what scares me the most in books— a horror that I feel like I may actually encounter. However, though the big, black void of nothingness is scary (especially to be eternally trapped in), I don't exactly have one of those in my house.

I'm glad that I did try out this book, because I've always been curious about it. While it ultimately didn't completely amaze me, I found some of it to be very strong. I will definitely never be reading it again because I can't imagine putting myself through that exhaustion for a second time. This book is honestly so draining, so tiring to read, and not just because of its density. Yes, it is written as a dissertation, with countless other branches of narrative and references jumping back and forth, but it's also just a massive book physically that requires you to hold it upside down and sideways. So, while I was (almost) prepared for the amount of mental strain this book would bring upon me, I don't think my arms were ready for that workout.


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