Overall, what do you think of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena?
Join Date: 11/16/10
Join Date: 12/07/12
I thought it was one of the most amazing books I have read in the past 12 months. The writing style was beautiful and drew me into the story from the first paragraph. The characters were multi dimensional and believable. Everything that happened to them seemed like an accurate statement of fact as the author spun his tale from his imagination. I felt that I had listened to real people telling of the horrors they had survived and of the people who did not have their good luck and had perished. I recommend this book very highly and will be gifting it to all my favorite readers.
Join Date: 05/01/13
Join Date: 02/23/14
I was glad to be given a view into a part of the world and a conflict so foreign to me yet so familiar in its basic humanness. The stage and props may change but human nature - both evil and good does not - and that was deeply disturbing yet reassuring. The language was rich and beautiful. I found myself rereading passages just for the poetic sound of it. Loved it.
Join Date: 10/29/11
This book captured my attention from the beginning, and never lost it. I have been telling everyone I know, especially book club people to read this book. I think it gave me a glimpse into a time and life I couldn't imagine in a way that I would usually only get from a movie. The characters were colorful and well developed. I hope to read another novel soon by this author. Please keep writing!
Join Date: 10/20/10
The novel would be a little difficult to read for anyone who is not well versed in the history of that particular part of the world in that time. What was mesmerizing to me was the author in so many instances created, with words only, the feeling of the reader being there and partaking of the time, the brutality, the starvation and the enormous will to live. This is mastery with words. This is a complicated book, not for the faint hearted.
Join Date: 05/01/13
Join Date: 04/21/11
This book was so very hard to put down. The suspense was so rapid at times I could hardly contain myself to not go ahead in the story! The characters were so believable and stayed with me for a long while. I would say this has been one of my favorites.
Join Date: 05/19/11
I throughly enjoyed this book. A real step into this part of the world. Not always fond of date skipping but actually enjoyed this part of this book.. I agree the characters were will developed and found I was pulled into the story by the characters whom I liked.
Join Date: 06/13/11
Join Date: 02/25/14
I found this novel to be completely worthy of all the accolades it has been receiving. It was absorbing, compelling and so eloquent. Often, the composition of the sentences struck me as pure poetry. I enjoyed the interweaving of the characters as well as how all the situations unfolded, melding the past with the present. As an added bonus, I was able to learn a little about the Chechen/Russian conflicts and become a bit better education on a subject that I am fascinated with. It is a superb, rich, and creative novel which I will very much enjoy recommending to everyone!
Join Date: 01/19/12
Immensely enjoyed CVP. Rate it 5 stars, a rating I’ve not bestowed to a contemporary book for nearly a year. One huge endorsement is that I put this novel on my Goodreads “reread shelf” which mainly holds classics and another is that I judge it to be a great choice for book clubs. For me, CVP’s strengths included its beautiful prose, character development, unique take on what could have been yet another “political/war story” and interweaving story lines which were successfully completed by the book’s conclusion. My one criticism is that it took me a while to become fully engaged with the novel due to my lack of knowledge about Chechnya and the considerable detail about the multiple characters. A sign of CVP’s success is that it motivated me to seek out additional knowledge about Chechnya after finished the book.
Have recommended CVP to everyone in my large circle of bibliophilic friends and family (with the advise to read about Chechnya in advance and be patient for their literary reward). Also, this novel’s story and characters were in my thoughts long after I finished so CVP became a topic of conversation with my non-reading friends.
Join Date: 03/22/12
I loved the book. It was well written and beautifully constructed. It was one of the best books I have read in the last two or three years. That being said, it may not be a book for everyone as it does take you out of your comfort zone. It could be that I lacked information about Chechnya, that initially made it a little difficult to grasp the situation. I would suggest if one doesn't know anything about the area, to do a little research in advance. Other than that, it will be a book I will remember
Join Date: 06/16/11
After reading all of the above comments I am so pleased that everyone seems to have loved this book as much as I did. Some of the best writing I have seen in a while, definitely will recommend to others and will continue to think about it and be grateful that I got this opportunity to read it as I probably would not have picked it up off the shelves if I had run across it. I certainly hope Marra continues writing and publishing.
Join Date: 09/19/13
Could not believe it was the first novel by Marra. The characters had so much depth and were so multi-faceted. Sonja, especially, was such an interesting character. She was so hard, feisty, bitter and combative at first, but then, mellowed into a complicated, complex woman. Her search for Natasha left me hoping beyond hope she would find her, but then devestated that she would never know what happened to her. Each of the characters had complexity and a humaness which were never one-notes.
Join Date: 07/18/11
Like those who have already posted, I believe this is one of the finest, most affecting books I have read in a very long time. It demands more than one reading and begs to be discussed. So many terrible acts are committed in a bleak world yet just as I despaired that humans could live in such bleakness, a character's action or thought would burst through like a bright light reminding me what it means to be "human, and humane" and that we can remain so,even if briefly, in the absolute worst times and places.
Join Date: 04/28/11
One of the best books that I have read lately. While Gunta previously commented about how hard this would be to read not knowing about the conflicts in the region, I did not find that to be true. I knew little about the conflict in Chechnya, yet the story was completely engrossing and I found it very hard to put down. I think that war and its repercussions can be universal and the characters in this book who were "regular" people showed the aftermath of more and oppressive regimes.
Join Date: 09/09/13
Join Date: 06/13/11
Ok, I'm a slow reader. I'm finally finished! I loved this book for many reasons: compelling plot, beautifully developed characters, and the opportunity to learn more about a place and time I knew nothing about. I will be recommending this novel to my reading friends for months to come.
Join Date: 04/25/12
The book was mesmerizing. it immediately sweeps you into the lives of the characters and the historical context. I found it hard to put down although the subject matter at times was horrifying. It's hard to believe this is a first novel. I give it a 5 out of 5 without hesitation.
Join Date: 07/16/11
I am only 1/4 of the way through it, but it has been a book that I reach for and open with such relish. Not many novels such as this have come my way in quite a while. I am not reading as quickly due to some other issues, but I love the writing and having a degree in Literature, the fact that this book was widely acclaimed and so far lives up to that gives me hope for writing and the future. And possibly, if ever, we can learn from the past; the timing of reading it could not be more profound with the turn in world events. I've always enjoyed and trusted what I learn from novels more than history books. Novels engage you and then you can look up the facts and make your own conclusions. I don't know why, but history class and the texts have been suspect for me since high school. They just seemed off. I've learned so much more through literature, and it usually encourages me to explore more than to just take a history book at its word.
It is so beautiful, perfect, goes into the literature category as opposed to just another good novel. I haven't read such a book in a long time. So much is going through my head right now. it's 3/30/13. It is not a fast read, and that's ok because it is a world inner and outer. I also love that there is such a strong female protagonist. And everyone is so real, they just come up alive from the pages.
Join Date: 04/14/11
I am probably in the minority here, but I found it difficult to get through, not because of the subject matter, but perhaps by the structure of the book. It is not a "fast read" and it requires a lot of patience and time. I am not sure I agree with all the accolades this book has received, but that being said it is an important subject and I found myself spending many hours reading other things on the Chechen wars. I have read a lot of books that are considered beautifully written, etc., and I am not sure that I would put this book in that category.
Join Date: 05/22/12
Join Date: 01/16/14
While I am still reading it, I have also been recommending it highly to anyone and everyone I know. I think it is an amazing and hypnotizing book on a subject that few of us have been so deeply and emotionally exposed to and should be recommended reading. The passion with which Marra writes is palpable.
Join Date: 03/19/14
Aleksandrae's Feb.25 response was perfect. I will add that the book was brutal, dark, despairing, and strong, powerful, heart-wrenching. Some have added that it was "hopeful," though I found that emotion difficult to find within myself. It tears at the core of my being how humans can treat each other, how they can suck out the very humanity within us. My goodness, do I look for a next read to ease my soul, or do I look for a worthy followup?
Join Date: 03/19/14
For those interested, a sad "connection" to Marra's novel can be found at: http://thebea.st/1faSeZl
Join Date: 03/07/12
Join Date: 03/13/14
I am sometimes haunted by the descriptions and the way that the book unfolds. I read a review that said this book was in the view of Half Yellow Sun and The Known World- both books which I enjoyed tremendously. I would agree. I sometimes find myself day dreaming, thinking about the world as it was laid out in Constellation.. and it causes me to pause and wonder. This was such a good book.
Please login to post a response.