Friday, April 3, 2009

Progress Report - The Stranger by Max Frei

The Stranger by Max Frei came out on the 1st and I've read the opening chapters.

Max is what the uncharitable might call a loser. He can't sleep at night and has a difficult time holding a job because of this. However, he sleeps deeply and dreams vividly during the day. So vividly that he has a difficult time telling his dreams from reality.

However, it turns out that his dreams are a sort of reality, which takes place in the city of Echo. Max is in training there to become an agent of The Minor Secret Investigative Force of the City of Echo. After a brief background, we are plunged into Max's training.

Lots of strange things happen, but for me, it suffers from a lack of conflict. Why is it I keep ending up with books that have conflict problems? I haven't gotten very far, mostly for this reason. No matter how strange the setting and engaging the magic--and it is both strange and engaging--I do need a bit of conflict to carry me through.

The Max Frei books are very popular in Russia, and this novel is its debut in the United States. The protagonist and the author have the same name, so it's like you're reading Max's autobiography. Check out this Wikipedia entry. I was a bit confused at first, and email conversations with the book's publicist led to my being offered this review copy.

I certainly intend to continue reading; I should have lots of unexpected free time this weekend.

UPDATE: Robert had the same problems I had with the opening, but he ultimately enjoyed it. Read his review here.


sbp said...

Read an excerpt at Book Spot Central and it didn't grab me.

Raven said...

It does sound like an interesting setup. Is it set in Russia?

ediFanoB said...

I read the whole German edition in 2007 and to be honest the story didn't work for me. The flow was chewy and it wasn't funny as described in the blurb.

THE STRANGER is on of these books which you either like or not. There is nothing between.

Tia Nevitt said...

Raven, it's set in the City of Echo, in some sort of dreamworld. I'm not sure yet if any of it takes place in Russia.

If I can't get through it, I may send it to you, but it's a hardcover so that's a bit pricey.

dteve3 said...

I tried it last weekend and read a little over 100 pages before I gave up.It didn't do anything for me. The comedy wasn't funny. Not my cup of tea. Just pissed I bought it without reading any reviews.

Tia Nevitt said...

Ouch! I bet that was expensive. All the accounts I've read so far indicates that it is a bit tough to get into. I wonder if the humor works for an American audience (if you are American).

It seems kind of Alice in Wonderland-ish to me. And that's one classic I didn't really enjoy.