“The armpit was a hitherto unknown landscape of fleshiness and stubble, and it struck Veblen as an armpit so vast and cavernous it could smuggle a pup. She’d been relieved when the arm came down and the armpit receded from sight, though, alas, not from memory.”

What is this book about?

Veblen is a quirky girl living in a lonely world. She works at a medical facility where she meets Paul and they fall head over heels in love. She’s named after a Norwegian Economist. He’s working on the pneumatic skull punch, a gun-like machine that punches holes in skulls if soldiers get hurt during combat. They have their differences (she talks with squirrels, he hates them), but are truly in love. But then their wacky families come into play, kooky work situations muck up the works and their relationship gets tested.

Why is it boring?

To me, the quirk was more than I can handle. At first I liked Veblen. She was a little peculiar, had adorkable hobbies and seemed to be a somewhat functional human being. Then her mother came into play and I hated her so much, that the book became difficult to get through. Add Paul’s nudist parents, his mentally disabled brother, Veblen’s insane father and you have a menagerie of characters that are too weird for their own good. It’s not just Veblen who was strange, but it was every single person around her and I just couldn’t deal.

Who would you recommend it to?

If you watch Amélie on repeat and call Jess from New Girl your spirit animal, this book might just be your bible.

Why should I read it if it’s boring?!

This book just wasn’t my cup of tea. The writing is good and there’s nothing wrong with the storytelling, but it was just telling a story I wasn’t interesting in. Veblen’s one of those special little snowflake girls, romanticizing that being different makes you better. There are some funny moments in the book, but often the humor was so over the top that the situations made me cringe. Paul and Veblen get about the same amount of screen-time in the novel, but I kept feeling that Veblen was the main character, even though I got to know Paul much better. With Paul we delve into his past, into his obsession with his brother and how his parents didn’t treat him right. It made me understand why he became the person he is today, while with Veblen I felt like she was just quirky because it’s cute. Of course her crazy mother had something to do with this, but it didn’t seem to matter all that much. It kind of felt like this whole story didn’t matter all that much, staying superficial without an underlying idea to wrap it all together. Overall, the story just didn’t grasp me. It felt like there was too much time spend on the quirk and not enough on telling a story that meant something.

Rating: 2,5/5

Review Copy attained through Netgalley with special thanks to the publisher Penguin Press.

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Esmée de Heer is head honcho over at the Bored to Death book club website, writing the daily content and making sure the site stays up and running. She's one of the founding sisters of the book club and enjoys reading and giving unsolicited love advice.

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