The Vegetarian Review

The Vegetarian: A Novel - Han Kang

The Vegetarian is my first real disappointment of 2016. Too bad, too, because it was going so well.

Here we have a story that starts off creepy and interesting. Then, about 60 pages in, it slams face-first into a tree and, like Sonny Bono, never recovers. (Too soon?) The first third of the book (the novel is broken up into three 60-page sections) is told in first-person past tense. The second part switches to third-person past tense, and while still an interesting part of the story, caused the narrative to come to a grinding halt while we have to get to know a whole other person only to relive entire sections of the first sixty pages. And then, finally, in the third part, the author swings into third-person present tense and completely shits the bed. We're forced to get to know someone else that doesn't matter and relive certain aspects of both the first and second parts.

This is a novella stretched into a 188-page novel. Supposedly it is an allegorical study of present-day Korea, but I cannot comment on the accuracy of that statement. All I know is, I was onboard until the author started switching POVs and tenses and repeating shit ad nauseum, as if this were the novelization of Vantage Point. Anyone remember that movie? The non-crazy Quaid brother plays a secret service officer, or some shit? The entire story is only about 15 minutes long, but it's told from the perspectives of like eight motherfuckers? Oh well. It's an all right movie. Better than this book, at any rate.

Holy kitten nipples, where the fuck was I?

Oh yeah. Shit book. Well, that's not fair. It's not a completely shit book. The first 60 pages are rad. The next sixty pages are okay. The last 60 are pointless and boring. Overall, a very unbalanced read. Had I paid for this one instead of getting a review copy from Crown Publishing in exchange for the review you are currently reading, I probably would've been pissed.

In summation: Allegorical or not, this book failed on certain levels for me. The last time I saw something go this bad this quickly was when we found out Jared from Subway was forcing underage boys to eat his footlong. Not recommended.

Final Judgment: I wanna like you, but you're you, and I don't like you.