Friday, July 14, 2017

Extraordinary Adventures

Title:  Extraordinary Adventures
Author:  Daniel Wallace
Publication Information:  St. Martin's Press. 2017. 336 pages.
ISBN:  125011845X / 978-1250118455

Book Source:  I received this book as a publisher's galley through NetGalley free of cost in exchange for an honest review.

Opening Sentence:  "The news came just after dinner via a telephone call from a representative of an organization called Extraordinary Adventures."

Favorite Quote:  "As impossible as it may have seemed months ago, there was a remote chance that he could have been here with any one of three women ... She was the only one he would have wanted to remember having gone with."

A promise of a free vacation to a resort in exchange for listening to a time share marketing pitch.
A somewhat clueless and apparently friendless main character.
A mother who paraded "uncles" in front of her young son.
A dug up skeleton of a childhood pet.
A robbery of an apartment.

All this within the first few chapters of the book with an expectation of more to come. The first two sounds doable; the rest, not so much.

Edsel Bronfman (what a name!) is the main character. The book opens when Edsel receives a phone call saying he has won a free stay at a resort. There are two caveats. The first is that he must listen to a time share marketing pitch for the resort. Just listen. That's it. Easy enough. The second is that the stay is for two. Edsel must bring a companion on this adventure. Therein lies the issue. Edsel cannot think of one single person that he could or would want to ask. He seems to have no friends. He would definitely not ask his mother. He probably cannot ask a coworker. What to do? Edsel Bronfman has seventy nine days to figure it out because he cannot let this free offer go by.

Books about quirky but endearing characters are a common story line, particularly since the success of The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. This book is another in the same genre.  Unfortunately, instead of quirky and endearing, the characters in this book are simply odd and sometimes a little creepy. This is true particularly towards the beginning of the book when as a reader, I invest in the characters. Books about odd and creepy characters can sometimes be quite the adventure to. Unfortunately, this one does not reach that goal either for its aim is to charm and amuse. The goal of the book and the setup of the story clash and draw me away from the book. Instead of being charmed, I find myself putting the book down and walking away. It takes some doing to come back to it.

The book aims for a journey of self-discovery and growth as thirty-four year old Edsel Bronfman seeks to find himself a companion. His interactions with his mother sadly point to an emotionally abusive childhood. As an adult, he finds himself her only caretaker as she declines further and further into dementia. As an adult, it is now Edsel's time to find his path. It is an interesting premise, but somehow, I find myself just not connecting with the character at all. Again, I find myself putting the book down and walking away.

The book also aims for a romantic comedy as Edsel's inexperience with the ladies is on full display in his feeble attempts to reach out in friendship. This aspect of the book has the expected highs and lows and a predictable ending.

Both the self-discovery and the sweet love story do emerge in the book, but the beginning and the lack of engagement with the characters unfortunately make it very difficult to get there. By that time, I find myself completely uninvolved in Edsel's story. Sadly, not much to say other than that this was not the extraordinary adventure for me.

Please share your thoughts and leave a comment. I would love to "talk" to you.

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