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Gregory Galloway – As Simple as Snow

March 26, 2010

31. As Simple as Snow by Gregory Galloway (2005)

Read By: Scott Brick
Length: 8h 56min (320 pages)

Genre: Young Adult

Started: 08 March 2010
Finished: 2010 March 2010

Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? Recommended to me by Jessi from Casual Dread in a comment on my review of Paper Towns.

What really happened to
your girlfriend: alien
abduction. Obvs, dude.

Summary: Anna Cayne is like no one that our narrator has ever met: she dresses like a goth, writes obituaries for everyone in town, listens to shortwave radio, seems to have read everything, is obsessed with Houdini and secret codes, and sends him cryptic messages and puzzles. Being her boyfriend has changed our narrator’s life, but then she disappears a week before Valentine’s day, with the only trace of where she’s gone as cryptic as everything else she’s ever done. No one knows if it was murder, suicide, or if she just ran away, and our narrator is desperate to find her, desperate to understand what happened, and turns to the only source of information he has – the months of notes and e-mails and mix CDs and other ephemera of their relationship, searching for a message that only Anna could leave.

Review: As Simple as Snow is extraordinarily similar in plot to John Green’s Paper Towns, and yet they were worlds apart in how much I enjoyed them. And, for the life of me, I can’t quite put my finger on why I loved Paper Towns but could barely finish As Simple as Snow.

My first instinct was that the difference was in the leading lady – that I found Anna so obnoxious that it ruined the book for me. It’s not a bad guess – the narrator and the author find Anna’s quirkiness charming, and the narrative pull of the book seems to rely on the reader finding her charming too… which I didn’t (to say the least.) But then I remembered that I found Margo, the leading lady of Paper Towns, pretty obnoxious as well, although it was somewhat mediated by the fact that she wasn’t around for as long. So it has to be something else.

The main character? I think that’s got some explanatory power; Quentin from Paper Towns is likeable enough to carry the story in his own right, even when the girl in question is in absentia, while the unnamed narrator of As Simple as Snow is kind of a cipher, with no real personality to recommend him. Also, this was clearly meant as a coming of age novel, but since the narrator only rebuilds his identity under the impetus and direction of another person, it was less than convincing on that front.

Maybe it was the tone of the book? I don’t think As Simple as Snow made me laugh once, whereas Paper Towns had me rolling on the floor in between making its serious points. Maybe the difference in the resolutions? As Simple as Snow leaves a *lot* – read: almost all – of questions unanswered, and while I realize that in real life not all threads wrap up neatly, it was still a little frustrating to listen to hour after hour of story where every little detail was treated as a Highly Significant and Meaningful Clue and then have nothing pan out. Or maybe it did pan out, but I was too annoyed by Anna during the Actually Important Clues to be paying full attention. Either way, I was disappointed. 2.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: I should have liked this book. I liked Stargirl; I loved Paper Towns. It seems like most people who liked one liked the others; I just didn’t. But, at the same time, I can’t entirely figure out why not, so if you liked the others, it might be worth your while to give As Simple as Snow a try.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: Bildungsroman
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: Anna Cayne had moved here in August, just before our sophomore year in high school, but by February she had, one by one, killed everyone in town.

Cover Thoughts: Very appropriate – dark and unsettling and evocative of the book as a whole.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. March 26, 2010 8:24 am

    I wonder if you’d read this one first if you would have felt differently about it.

    • March 30, 2010 8:32 am

      bermudaonion – It’s entirely possible, but it’s one of those things I’ll never know.

  2. March 26, 2010 8:56 am

    I’m sad this wasn’t better for you. From your plot description it sounds really good, and I love stories with secret messages and codes. Sigh.

    • March 30, 2010 8:33 am

      Jenny – Ordinarily, I do too, but I just didn’t care enough to try to work out the codes for myself (if they even were work-out-able), and Galloway certainly doesn’t provide any answers for you.

  3. March 26, 2010 1:58 pm

    Absurdly quirky girls as protagonist’s significant other bugs me for some reason- I enjoyed Star Girl well enough in elementary school (I think!), but I only look back at her farewell fondly now, because it was the sort of gesture she needed. I can’t exactly put my finger on it. If she’s the protagonist, I don’t mind, but… it’s such a delicate balance!

    • March 30, 2010 8:34 am

      Omni – I didn’t read Stargirl until a few years ago, but I didn’t really mind it, since the whole tone was so much lighter.

  4. March 27, 2010 7:24 am

    Sometimes we just have no idea why something rubs us the wrong way, so we just go with it. The cover is very arresting. I would be drawn to pick it up and just look at it, if I saw it in a book store.

    • March 30, 2010 8:35 am

      Nicole – The cover is pretty wonderful, isn’t it? Two points to whoever did the art direction on that one.

  5. April 6, 2010 11:56 am

    I listened to this one a while ago, and remember liking it, but I couldn’t really tell you that much about it. Guess it didn’t really stick with me!

  6. Katrina permalink
    February 11, 2011 11:53 pm

    I felt the same way about this book and found that I enjoyed the plot but the sudden ending was rather frustrating and it went far to into detail on things I thought were unimportant to the story.

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