Thursday, February 11, 2016

Book Review: "The Rosie Effect" by Graeme Simsion

The Rosie Effect Graeme Simsion
Published: September 24, 2014
ISBN: 9781476767321
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Source: Personal Copy (Giveaway from Silver's Reviews)

You might enjoy this book if you like: The Rosie Project, books about expectant fathers, humorous novels, The Big Bang Theory

The Wife Project is complete, and Don and Rosie are happily married and living in New York. But they’re about to face a new challenge.

Rosie is pregnant.

Don sets about learning the protocols of becoming a father, but his unusual research style gets him into trouble with the law. Fortunately his best friend Gene is on hand to offer advice: he’s left Claudia and moved in with Don and Rosie.

As Don tries to schedule time for pregnancy research, getting Gene and Claudia back together, servicing the industrial refrigeration unit that occupies half his apartment, helping Dave the Baseball Fan save his business and staying on the right side of Lydia the social worker, he almost misses the biggest problem of all: he might lose Rosie when she needs him most.

Get ready to fall in love all over again.

My Thoughts:
In my reading experience, I've come to this conclusion: sequels are tricky.  There are those that are absolutely fantastic in all respects, those that are natural continuations of their predecessors, and those that, well, fall well within the sophomore slump.  I don't know if I'd say this book falls victim to the sophomore slump, but I can say that it is as good as The Rosie Project.

The story itself is fairly predictable, but I didn't really mind that.  Rosie and Don expecting is not an unexpected next chapter to their lives and Don isn't exactly a "changeable" character.  The humor that lit up the first book is definitely present here and is probably this book's shining light.  However, the whole book felt almost like a sitcom that is spun off of a successful movie.

There were a few concrete things that bothered me about this book.  I wasn't so much bothered by the presence of Gene but rather by the reason he was there.  Claudia kicked him out. And even that--I think anyone who has read the first book would not be surprised by that after his behavior.  But I just felt that Simsion's set up and handling for that was just lackluster. I wish that he had either handled it with more care or just not included Gene in this story (there are other characters who could have easily taken his place in the plot).

Simison also makes some, if not missteps, at least questionable choices.  At one point, Don is arrested for filming children at a playground.  The reader knows that he is doing this as research into child behavior, but we all know what it looks like.  I just find humorous plot devices that involve suspected child abuse, even when that is not the case, distasteful.

Along the same vein, Don also finds himself involved in the "Lesbian Motherhood Project."  This ism't something he seeks out and the character of Don handles things well.  However, not only did I have trouble following the "findings" of this project, I also felt that Simsion is treading on thin ice with this topic.  It is never fully developed, which led me to wonder if my uneasy feelings around this were actually warranted or not.

My biggest gripe with this book is that Rosie really isn't that present in it.  I do understand that part of the conflict of this book is that this pregnancy brings up some problems in Don and Rosie's relationships, but the absence of the character for most of the plot was disconcerting for me.  I loved the interplay of the two in the first book and missed it deeply here.

All that being said, I can't deny that I did laugh out loud at certain points in this book.  Simsion is able to keep the humor from the first book sharp and alive.  And I did enjoy "checking in" with these characters that I grew to love in The Rosie Project.

I would probably recommend this to readers who loved The Rosie Project (this is not a case where you can start with the second book), but I'd also warn them to temper their expectations.  If you try to hold this book up to the first, it may fall flat.  However, if you can go along with the ride, you may have better luck with it.

I was not solicited for this review and I received no compensation for this post.

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