Monday, February 10, 2014

Foodie fiction: a new frontier for me

I shook up the reading pattern a little again and decided to try the lender's library on Kindle. To keep myself from getting burned out on fantasy, I browsed the offerings in the general literary fiction section. I was intrigued by the book cover (and I'm sorry, but I judge you on your cover before making my final decision. It sucks me in to read your book blurb or not.) at first glance. After reading through the blurb, I downloaded the sample chapter. From there, I checked it out, so to speak.


Soy Sauce for Beginners by Kirsten Chen

I would place this book somewhere between 3 and 4 stars. I hover between the two numbers because I was highly impressed with the editing and formatting. They helped achieve a better read through the story. However, the overall novel still needed a guiding hand. There were too many occasions, for me, where the leading lady was punch worthy. I know, I know; her struggles are what drive the plot -- but my goodness what a whiner!

On the high notes, there certainly was an excellent sense of emotion. The subjects covered are very real and able to relate to someone we are or know. The characters weren't entirely flat but could have used some polish to make them really shine. There were a fair number of players, yet all of their interactions felt brief and unconnected. The story clearly goes from Point A to B with all the characters involved along the way; however, it was a lackluster involvement from the whole cast. The novel was clearly researched on soy sauce, not human relationships.

I really wish there would have been a stronger feel of culture to the novel, which I thought would be very important to a story about Singapore or America, where do I live? (This could have entirely been me missing out on something, but it really didn't feel like I was in Singapore during the visualization. I got an excellent feel for the horrific weather, not the great hive activity and distinct Asian hubbub.)

Overall, I really enjoyed the story and managed to read the whole novel in two days. I probably will not proceed to buy it. The author is new and still needs fine tuning, but it shows great backbone to build on. I would certainly recommend this for a bookclub because there are all sorts of topics to get in fights over.