Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko by Scott Stambach

3.5 Stars

“The world needs happy endings, no matter how unethical.” – Vladimir Navokov
The blurb states . . . .

“The Fault In Our Stars meets One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest”

My response to that?

Maybe more like The Fault In Our Stars meets Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, ya know if the children were terminally ill rather than strangely gifted and you only really got to know two of them in depth.

I’m going to let the book do most of the talking on this one. Allow me to introduce you to Ivan . . . .

“I’m seventeen years old, approximately male, and I live in an asylum for mutant children.” (No, not like the X-Men.) “My body is horribly incomplete. I only have one arm (my left), and the hand attached to the end of it is deficient in digits (I have two fingers and a thumb). The rest of my appendages are short, asymmetrical nubs that wiggle with fantastic effort. My skin is nearly transparent, revealing the intricate tapestry of my underutilized veins. The muscles in my face are only loosely connected to my brain, resulting in a droopy, flat affect, which makes me look like an idiot, especially when I talk.”

As for the comparison to John Green. Yes, it exists. The difference is you know from the beginning that one of the two young loves is dead and the attitude toward their blossoming romance is waaaaaaay more realistic . . . .

“If we weren’t in this hospital and you saw me in a restaurant, you would be just beautiful enough to be disgusted by me and just soulful enough to pity me.”

As for the story itself . . . .

“There are as many themes in Ivan’s story as there are pages. It is at once a love story, a revelation of the dark legacy of the Soviet experiment, a conversation on medical ethics, a reproach of religious hypocrisy, and an admonition against choosing fear over purpose. But, ultimately, it is simply the story of a single human life, within which so much can be held.”

I will be 100% honest here and say if I were a person with the ability to “DNF” I would have done so with this book. Not a whole lot happens and even though I think it’s nearly impossible not to fall in love with Ivan, his personality and storytelling wasn’t enough to make this read at any faster than a snail’s pace. Buuuuuuuuuuut, if you keep with it you’ll not only get plenty of hardy-hars – like the moment when Ivan catches the hospital director and a nurse in flagrante delicto . . . .

“My first instinct was to mentally ridicule the unkempt and voluminous nature of Nurse Lyudmila’s genital hair.”

And maybe even have a feeling or two . . .



“How do you even start a book you know is going to be your last?”

“You lie and say it’s not.”

♫♪♫♪ Take another little piece of my heart now, baby. ♫♪♫♪

My friend Michellegave me the okay to quit on this one and was even kind enough to say maybe I wasn’t reading it wrong. (Spoiler Alert: I still probably read it wrong.)

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