Monday, July 5, 2010

Review: Beneath the Lion's Gaze

Author: Maaza Mengiste

Genre: Historical Fiction (2010)

About: A family's struggle during the Ethiopian revolution in 1974

Descriptive Words: Pursuit of freedom, family, torture, uprising, violence

Thoughts: How are those for some uplifting descriptive words? How about the first sentence of the book... "A thin blue vein pulsed in the collecting pool of blood where a bullet had lodged deep in the boy's back."

I like books that start with sentences that grab me and don't let go until the end. Unfortunately, the first sentence grabbed me, but not very firmly and for only a few pages. After that it was me doing the hanging on! For 150 pages I clung desperately and almost gave up, but thankfully the story came together in the second half and made my clinging worthwhile. :)

I'm still reading Cutting for Stone on my iPad (it's a long one) - which also is set in Ethiopia (Addis Ababa) during the revolution - and it's much more interesting than this book. There's nothing wrong with the prose in this one, but with names like Shiferaw, Emana, Almaz, Melaku, Hailu, Abbaye, it was hard to keep track of who was who, and to put personalities with names. Eventually I figured it out, but I don't like having to work so hard to figure out the characters and would rather focus on the storyline.

Overall, even though it was intense, depressing at times, and way too slow in the beginning, I'm glad I read it. I love to learn about different cultures.

Source: Library

Why I Chose: I'm reading Cutting for Stone and was curious to read another book about the Ethiopian revolution. I'd also seen it mentioned on a few other blogs.

Recommend? Yes, if you like historical fiction.

Rating: 4/5 (although the beginning was a 2/5)

Other Reviews:

My Friend Amy
Fizzy Thoughts
By Book or By Crook


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