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I started it back during the month it came out, but never made it past the first few pages because it was terribly slow, similar to the first episode of 'Orange is the New Black.' Fans of the show said that viewers have to get through the first few episodes before the show is good and same with the posts on this page in regards to this book. But, I just can't read it y'all. I've tried twice since the first try and I can't do it. It gives off a 'Pretty Little Liars' vibe and I've never even watched that show, and I know how it ends. My guess is this book is similar in some way? Hope those of you who got through the first few pages enjoyed it!
I thought the book was a little slow to start, but I was always eager to continue to learn how this was all going to end. I didn't realize until around QRS that the chapters were going from A to Z (26 chapters total). I do appreciate the fact that there were no "perfect" characters. I had a love/hate relationship with just about everyone. Each member of her family and Wyatt seemed to be mostly out for themselves and it sometimes made the book depressing for it felt too much like real life. I liked how the ending didn't feel completely rushed though it was frustrating to find out on THE LAST PAGE that she's pregnant. Poor Nico. This book reminds me of how I felt after I finished reading Startup. With that story, I wasn't crazy about it, but I did appreciate how much it made me think about characters' motives, choices, etc. Dead Letters gave me a similar feeling but with much more depth because it covered a few more serious issues. I would read another novel by this author.
I really liked this book. It was written very well although for about for 95% of the book I could have cared less what happened, I just wanted to FINISH. It was killing me to not know what the next clue was. Then the ending happened. And suddenly I was completely and totally invested in the story. I liked how it was almost impossible to predict the ending -or at least I couldn't. Every time I thought I knew what was about to happen I was completely wrong. I was very intrigued with the characters. I felt like this book had a beautiful message. Appreciate your family while there alive and donâ€™t let small problems interfere with the relationship.
I flew through this book! If I didn't have to work and maintain an adult life, I probably would have finished it in one day. It did reminded me very strongly of Gone Girl from the very beginning, but with twin sisters rather than a husband and wife. I really enjoyed it overall, but just like Gone Girl, the ending left me with an "I-don't-know-how-to-feel-about-this" feeling...and maybe a hint of disappointment. The good news is that it was unexpected (for me, anyway--I tried not to form too many guesses as I went so as to keep the element of surprise!) I'd kind of like to read it again just to analyze everything that happened now that I already know the ending. Side note: I grew up not terribly far from where this story was set! I've heard of/seen most of the extra little details that were mentioned, and I have been on Seneca lake (it really is beautiful) so that was pretty cool.
I'm not sure how I feel about this book. I liked the idea of it. I liked that I wasn't sure about the ending. I liked the format with the texting, letters and emails. I enjoy a good scavenger's hunt.
I did not enjoy that there was no way for the reader to guess what the next letter could be. As a puzzler, that was disappointing.
The biggest thing I disliked was the characters did not stay true to themselves. I understand about character growth and what not.. but you can't tell your reader that character X is this, this and this and then have the same character do that, that and that. For example, Wyatt was the 'good' guy. I can't count how many times I was told what a good guy Wyatt is. He waited for her in high school, seem to wait for her while in Paris, helped out on the farm that he didn't own, etc. SPOILER!! But then he would have not only revenge sex with his 'love's' twin sister but a threesome as well? That does not fit goodie, golden boy I was told about.
Was this just me?
Wow. I am totally blown away by this author's writing. I understand why some people would not enjoy this book, especially if they were expecting a Gone Girl-esque type of read. I, on the other hand, went in with almost no expectations. I saw that the book had mediocre reviews on Goodreads and thought I wouldn't enjoy it. Boy was I surprised! Maybe it is because I'm in my 20's myself, but I really felt for both Zelda and Ava. While I don't think I am particularly like either of them, I do know people who have dealt with similar situations and felt that their emotional reactions were completely realistic. I also liked that the author didn't fill the book with a bunch of loveable people. This made it much more realistic for me. The mystery was also really unique. Also, is it bad that I didn't realize each chapter started with the next letter of the alphabet until I got to X?!
One question though... Was Ava pregnant at the end?
Spoilers ahead - Overall I did not enjoy this book. I think the author has talent, and had a number of nuances down pat - the circular train of thought of an alcoholic, the theme of constrained writing. However, I found it hard to suspend disbelief (as others have said) that every item in the scavenger hunt was found in order. I also found the arrest of Jason haphazard. We are to take Zelda's word that he "deserved it" and that was the last mention of it? I need more to support a miscarriage of justice. Would have loved to see less of Wyatt and more of the local cops turning up the heat on this family. Honestly, you don't come back from twincest group sex, not in two years. Not ever. And the ending with Wyatt - contrived? Or more charitably to the author, a sign that Ava could not break the chains of dysfunction and abuse? She will raise this unfortunate child as an emotionally withholding mother, with a partner whom she seems to have little-to-no respect for. History repeats itself. Dark, but in this case I can believe - she and her sister came off as pretentious, condescending sociopaths.
'Dead Letters' started out as a slow read... the writing came off as pretentious and the prose was overly-wordy and just cumbersome. I wanted to put it down a few times, but I kept pushing... and I'm so glad I did. After a few chapters, this really turns around and the story becomes quite engaging.
It took me a week to muscle through the first four chapters, but I finished the rest in a day. Now that I've finished, I wonder if this was the author's intention... to design the book much like Ava (our protagonist and narrator) who begins very hard and impenetrable (and frankly unlikeable), softens and becomes more vulnerable over time. Whether intentional or not, it came off quite clever.
The mystery isn't anything mind-bending or riveting (a la 'Behind her Eyes') but it's enough to keep a steady pace and hold your interest till the end.
The characters (our narrator included) are all deeply flawed, but each had at least a glimmer of redemption.
I found the ending satisfying... loose ends were all conveniently tied, albeit unrealistically. It's not necessarily the ending you want, but the story of the Antipova family isn't one that can really have a neat and happy ending.
Like others, I did think the situation with Nico could have been handled better (what did he do to deserve all that?? His only crime was wearing scarves...) I found the pregnancy a bit cliche, but it fit with the overall frame of the story -- from A to Z; from death to birth.
I had a difficult time getting into this book. Most novels take me a couple days to finish, this one took me almost the entire month. After the first few chapters I found myself wishing I'd chosen another title, or completely skipped the month all together. I was irritated that it was painted to be a suspense/thriller novel. Instead of trying to piece the story together I was counting down how many chapters I had left until the end. Ava as a character was terribly. She admits she was afraid of comfort and connection, but we barely see her try and change that. She treats Wyatt horribly throughout their younger years and still he follows her like a puppy dog, and they end up together. (They do, right? That's what I got) She abandoned her mother and sister in a selfish, childish manner, and the author removes all bad aspects from her life in the end. While her twin is dead, so is her ill mother. Leaving her without the weight of having to care for or overdose her, and leaving her a small fortune fixing all debt. The author is obviously very alented, I would be interested to read more of her future work, but I do not think this first novel of hers was a best seller.
Just finished Dead Letters. Interesting plot with miserable characters. I found myself vacillating between wishing that I had skipped the book selection this month or chosen another book.
The author painted a very miserable childhood and dysfunctional family life which made me not enjoy the book as much. Ava's treatment of Nico annoyed me and I found the Ava/Zelda relationship weird.
The author's storytelling ability is pretty well crafted but I guess I was hoping for less drama and more suspense, especially after last month's choice, Behind Her Eyes.
I want to begin by saying I was impressed, this was a fun read and I give the author credit for the creative story line. I honestly found it interesting and enjoyed trying to piece together the clues. There is no perfect book, yes the characters are flawed and that is on purpose - they are difficult and unlikable, and at times so frustrating; but I understand that this is for the story. If these characters had more likable qualities we for sure wouldn't have the same plot line.
This author is very talented, her writing is quite impressive, however very wordy at times and could have been condensed - but I feel as if this book was already condensed for length. The vocabulary at time was a bit pretentious, but I think this may tie in to the Ava character. All and all, I found it to be a pretty good book.
This book starts off a bit stiff and disjointed, but as you learn the intricacies of Zelda & Avaâ€™s lives/relationships, you come to realize that is exactly how Antipovasâ€™ world is. They are complex, unusual, disjointed, eccentric â€“ all the unique qualities that create the dysfunctional family. Avaâ€™s character is oddly relateable, when you consider her struggle to be perfect, her fall into the flawed human she is, and her closed-off, donâ€™t-touch-me demeanor. Nadineâ€™s health struggles and the way Zelda & Ava handle them came across as incredibly real. It felt like something a reader could easily be facing in real life, which made the ending that much more heartbreaking. It was brilliant that the author left some topics as mere speculation instead of simply stating the past events (like what happened between Ava, Zelda, & Wyatt). By not explicitly stating what happened and alluding to it, it allowed the reader to really use their imagination regarding the details, and gave the reader a chance to connect the dots regarding what happened, how it affected Avaâ€™s relationship with Zelda & Wyatt, and how it translated into Avaâ€™s escape to France. The addition of the alphabetic theme throughout the novel is just the cherry on top of a well-written novel, and I look forward to reading any future works by this author.
This post will contain spoilers. Is anyone else having a hard time getting through this? I was really looking forward to reading this book, but the fact that every single character in this story is dreadful and truly just awful... I just can't seem to get into or get behind it.
HOWEVER. This author is EXTREMELY talented. The writing style is wonderful, and I loved looking back through each chapter, and realizing that the first letter followed the alphabet. That is the main theme throughout the book, and I found her subtle hints to be clever.
That being said, I am 3 quarters of the way through Dead Letters, and I just want it to be over already. I usually read my books within 2 to 3 days... this has taken me 2 and a half weeks! I am left wishing there was at least one redeeming character, but I have the feeling my wish is going to be left in-granted. Such a shame.
In addition to being a BOTM selection, this book is also on several lists for '2017 Must Reads' - and I was super excited to read it. However, I had a really hard time getting into it. I liked the storyline and I appreciate suspense novels, but there was something very off-putting about the writing style. It felt very pretentious and I felt very separated from the narrator. To be frank, I absolutely detested Ava. I can appreciate that the author wanted to portray the Antipovas as a flawed, dysfunctional family, but I felt as though she was trying to beat me over the head with the fact that everyone in the family was an alcoholic. Ava tried to play the part of a martyr but she came across as selfish, juvenile, and egocentric. Halfway through this book, I contemplated quitting it. I eventually decided to see it through to the end, but I felt as though I was counting down the pages until it was over. I was less bothered by the holes in the story (as compared to some readers on this board), and probably would have liked the book better had any of the characters had even one redeeming quality. This is not a book I would recommend to another reader.
I'm feeling very conflicted right now.... I liked reading this book. I followed along with the clues and tried to piece together what was going to happen and what everything meant. I was engaged in their story and their life, feeling for the characters as they navigated this situation, but....
There are so many unanswered questions, but not in the cliffhanger-suspense-whathappensnext type of way. More like story holes. What was this big giant secret that separated Ava and Zelda for so long? Why would Ava forgive Wyatt? Why did literally everyone just think 'Oh Zelda is making me do weird things and alluding to her death, no biggie'? Why was Ava's passport in the green dress and not where it was supposed to be in her bag? Ava just never called Nico, at all, not once? How did Zelda know exactly when and where for every single piece--- twins or not, nothing was discovered really out of order or anything, even when clues from different ends of the alphabet were sitting right there the whole time....
Also, I don't really like that Zelda ended up dead. I get that she was paranoid about her possible illness and felt helpless with her family & the vineyard, but I also kind of feel like it was a cop out ending. Even if her decision making was skewed (which was mentioned as symptom of the disease), she planned this for SO LONG and had so many people involved in some way or another, but NOBODY was suspicious of her suicide when the barn burned down? Plus, would she really leave Ava all alone? From the little tidbits from the book, I'm not sure if I really feel that Zelda would kill herself outright like that....I don't think she needed to resurface, but her death just fell flat, in a way, which is the opposite of all the lead up to the ending.
spoilers For me this author had grabbed me with the letters and the dysfunctional family. The alphabet scavenger hunt was brilliant. This book had me curious and searching for answers. I really enjoyed reading and analyzing the mission Ava was on. What the author had me thinking was going to happen didn't happen. So much so that I really cried at the end. To watch Ava lose a part of herself and literally watch it unfold in the last chapters was so raw. Watching Nadines life slowly and most painfully being taken away. I liked how the author ended her life. This book hit home for me in so many ways. Watching someone you love suffer and not be able to do anything about it, is the hardest thing in the world.
Should I finish this book? This book is really not catching my attention. I feel like the dialog is so unnatural it throws me. Is it worth sticking it out? Thanks All.
When/did everyone pick up on the fact that each chapter starts with a letter of the alphabet?? I embarrassingly didn't realize this until the chapter that started with 'S' I believe. Or even all of the alphabet references in the emails themselves took me a little while to catch on (I didn't realize until Ava did!)
I just think the amount of thought that went into writing this in such a specific manner and holding true to the overall 'literary restraint' theme was amazing.
spoiler alert I was miffed at some of the unanswered questions we were left with at the end of this novel. Was the disaster that occurred "that spring night," a week after Ava discovered Wyatt and Zelda having sex, that they ended up having a threesome? And because of the fucked up implications of that, and the incestuousness, Ava had to leave for Paris? I guessed that that was what happened and Ava and Wyatt seem to allude to it, but Ava always says she doesn't want to discuss it. Since this is such a major secret and plot point that Dolan-Leach constantly alludes to, it seems like lazy writing and letting the reader down to not come right out and say what happened to cause this pivotal rift. Also, since I felt this book failed somewhat to live up to its thriller moniker (it was more of a family drama), to live up to the "suspense" this has been labelled with Dolan-Leach owed it to us to reveal this central mystery by the end. And it also would have more fully fleshed out the interpersonal drama aspects of the story to recount what really went down between Wyatt, Ava, and Zelda on the night that changed everything, and was apparently worse than the night Ava initially walked in on them.
Another unanswered question I had: why did Marlon and Wyatt dislike each other so much and feel so awkward being around each other? This weird dynamic is mentioned several times, as if it has significance, but unless I missed it, it's never revealed what happened to cause that strained relationship. Did Marlon know about the Ava-Zelda-Wyatt triangle or something about the aforementioned "spring night?"
Finally, the book ends with Wyatt kissing Ava's belly and saying they don't have to repeat her parents' mistakes. Is this implying that they're having a baby? Is this also one of the reasons Ava doesn't return to France and to Nico? Again, I wish Dolan-Leach had come out and said more things instead of vaguely hinting at them! I found that to be very dissatisfying as a reader!
All my unanswered questions have to do with Wyatt, which is not a coincidence. I found the whole Wyatt/romance subplot to be the weakest element of the novel (which I did overall enjoy). I didn't buy the rekindling of his and Ava's romance when she came home. I feel like he's portrayed as the nice guy we should feel sorry for, but I'm sorry: He. Cheated. On. Ava. With. Her. Twin. Sister. That's pretty despicable; he's not a poor puppy to be pitied. And I felt that Ava was supposed to have over-reacted in her rage over Wyatt and Zelda being together, and to have been somewhat in the wrong for fleeing to France. I'm sorry, but she was perfectly right to feel betrayed, and to protect herself by leaving that toxic environment. I don't think she overreacted. I didn't find it to be a happy, satisfying, or believable ending that she stayed in upstate New York to end up with the childhood sweetheart who cheated on her with her twin and never really understood her in all her complexity. Really? The heroine can't continue to pursue her dreams of her Ph.D. in a city she was happy in, free from the setting of her youth of addiction, misery, and fucked up family life? The ending felt twee to me, and not like a genuinely good resolution.