book-reviews

The Instructions

by Adam Levin

Rating: ★★★★

A very Old Testament story of blood and brotherhood and pride and fanaticism in the schoolyard, delivered via a precocious child messiah who is slightly obsessed with Philip Roth, very inclined to self-deception and who is about to shake the world with a pop bottle, a balloon and some pennies.

It was Ender's Game where the aliens were Torah, but written with more teeth and more convincingly precocious characters. I don't think it was as clever as it wanted to be, but I liked it nonetheless. It found a corner and dared something, and did it with some style.

My major gripe with Levin is all the autobiographical, struggle-of-the-author references he self-consciously layered into the book about the process of writing the book (as the narrator), which just pissed me off because it was totally unnecessary. Dude. You don't need to textually explain and justify your fucking stylistic choices (yes, I see the irony, but I'm right). It comes off as weedy. Just fuckin' do it, and we're either going to get on board or not, and we'll be a lot happier either way without listening to you worry about it.

This isn't a heavy postmodern novel, even if it is 1000+ pages and contains a few footnotes and quotes from fictional texts. This is a gripping actual plot moved with purpose, and it is very readable.