Book Review: Us


ashley | I really liked David Nicholl’s One Day, it was witty and tragic, everything I love in a book. I was hoping Us would be similar and felt pretty confident about that when I picked it up.

A crumbling marriage brings forth the story of us, or them, as we are taken through the events of how mild mannered biochemist Douglas met his artist-wife Connie and how everything went downhill from there. Like their marriage, I found this book was just a downward spiral; I really didn’t enjoy reading it. I just didn’t really like the characters at all and reading about their family trip made me feel like I was taking a trip with a friend who I quickly realized I didn’t travel well with, who was nothing more than a drag (which I have done and it was not fun).

The more I got to know Douglas, the blander he became. I find science interesting, I enjoy intellectual conversation and appreciate dry humour but it just took a lot to really want to pay attention to Douglas as he narrated the story of how he met his wife and the fate of their marriage. Honestly, I wasn’t that surprised that Connie was kind of growing tired of him.

I didn’t really like Connie either, though. Douglas’ complete opposite, her spontaneous artsy image seemed a bit of a farce sometimes. She was indecisive and destructive and I don’t even know what she saw in Douglas, it was like she clung to him because she thought he could tame her, but resented him for every boring, predictable, structured part of his being.

I’m not sure I was supposed to really like these characters, but it made it really difficult to read through a book about people I couldn’t even stand. Told in the present with flashbacks of the past, Us basically chronicles the growth and closeness and then the drifting apart of these two people. Much like anyone can relate to in any type of relationship, romantic or not. You see all the first impressions that they want you to see, you break past those to see the truth of who the person really is, you grow old and boring and then hit a rut and either figure out how to pull yourself out of it or you give up and move on.

I found this book quite depressing, actually. I usually really like depressing and often find some kind of beauty in it, but this just seemed like listening to one long, drawn out complaint, like you were stuck at a party with someone who would not stop droning on and on about his life and people you didn’t know and didn’t care to know. At the end of the first part, I wanted to give up on it, but I hate not finishing books so I pushed through, hoping that Douglas’s rare spontaneous plan would somehow revive my interest. It didn’t and I have to admit that I did not finish this book. Well, I skipped to the end and read the last little bit, but I just couldn’t stand being with these people for another minute.

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September 30, 2014