Review: Magnified World

Context

I’m taking an online creative writing class this fall at the University of Toronto. Of course, the teacher, Grace O’Connell, is a published author; that seems to be a prerequisite, alongside “having a master’s degree. So I figured I’d read her debut novel Magnified World, to know a bit more “who I’m dealing with”.

Magnified WorldReview

I’m not sure I should be reviewing this book. It wasn’t my cup of tea. I could have adored it because I love new age stuff and psychology, but I didn’t like the “artistic direction”, if that means anything to you; I liked the ingredients, but not the final dish.

The writing is irreproachable, as you’d expect from an MFA. There are a few weird images along the way, but better that than clichés, I guess. There is a bit too much setting description to my taste: I often caught myself reading a sentence or even a paragraph without really registering it in my mind because I didn’t care. But that’s just my personal taste and I’m sure people who love literary fiction above all else wouldn’t mind.

In terms of story, I loved the beginning, the images it painted in my mind, the mood. And I loved the ending, how the main character finally healed… but is still at risks of a relapse. However, I found the middle too long. There’s a lot of foreshadowing all through the first half of the book, and although it’s subtle, when combined with my knowledge of psychology and writing, it ruined the punch for me: I’d seen every plot point and plot twist coming from miles away.

That  being said, from the reviews I’ve read on Goodreads, it seems if you’re not a psychology connoisseur, some aspects might actually be too subtle: a few people complained they still didn’t understand who Gil was at the end of the book; I knew it, or at least had a strong feeling about it, after the very first card he’d sent. But hey, I’ve spent two months in a psychiatric hospital; I know things most people don’t.

The characters are well crafted and I could sympathize with all of them, although I could identify with none… except the mother, and only a little; only the hardships of raising a child while struggling with a mental illness. I found the main character a bit annoying because I couldn’t understand her. However, that didn’t prevent me from rooting for her, so I guess it’s all good.

The main theme is grief, and you’d think the book would make you cry, or at least make you feel miserable a little, but it doesn’t. I must say, it’s probably the first time I’m disappointed that a book didn’t give me any strong feelings. I did cry once, but I think most people wouldn’t even understand why I cried at that specific point because it had more to do with my own history than the book. It’s not funny either, though. I have no idea what the writer wanted to reader to feel, but I suppose it didn’t work with me.

Overall though, I think the book has a lot to offer… it just wasn’t for me.

Rating: 7/10

Who would I recommend this to? Lovers of literary fiction, especially in their early 20s. Possibly psychology amateurs.

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7 thoughts on “Review: Magnified World

  1. I had to smile a bit as I read your review. How many books have I read where I thought I should appreciate it, even if I didn’t actually “like” it? (a lot) I think of reading a lot like ordering from a menu. All the books are made to sound delicious, but when the meal arrives, it may or may not be exactly what I’m looking for. The hardest part is, I don’t always know what I’m looking for until I DON’T find it! So, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your take on MAGNIFIED WORLD. It’s an item on the menu that many will love, in a particular mood, and at a particular time, but won’t be a universal crowd pleaser. Wonderful review, and a book I’m a little intrigued about. . .

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love the metaphor! It has so much potential… Like, with some kinds of dish, I’ll need the chef to be a “master”, because I don’t like the ingredients or even the kind of dish, while with others I’ll gladly consume even the work of amateurs because I can’t get enough of those flavours… Also, sometimes you *really* feel like eating something in particular and eating it will be extremely satisfying, but eating anything else will be disappointing…

      Thanks a lot for your comment!

      Liked by 1 person

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