Thursday, May 26, 2022

Book Review: Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips

Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips book cover and review
I realize Disappearing Earth has won multiple honors and gained a lot of praise throughout the bookish world. But this was just not the book for me.

At the beginning of the novel, set in the Kamchatka peninsula at the northeastern edge of Russia, two young sisters are kidnapped as they are walking home. This happens in August, and each chapter is set during the following month. To me, Disappearing Earth read like a book of short stories where the characters in each are tangentially related to other characters, and somehow connected to the disappearance of the sisters.

It didn't seem like we get any closer to finding the girls. There is no build up of tension. It's just storytelling. And Phillips is a great storyteller. The descriptions of setting and characters are colorful and vivid. As I look through others' reviews I see words like "thrilling," "engrossing," "addictive," and "mesmerizing." And I wonder, what did I miss? The last few chapters are satisfying, and we do get a resolution to the case of the missing girls. (This book was so weird, I sincerely worried that Phillips would leave us hanging.) But I don't understand the purpose of most of the chapters in the middle.

So don't take my word for it; I seem to be in the minority. Read other reviews and decide for yourself. I just had to be honest. And I freely admit I shy away from books described as "literary fiction," although I didn't see that description of Disappearing Earth.

The narrator, Ilyana Kadushin, did a great job. I really only finished this book because I was listening to the audio version. If it were in print, I definitely would not have finished.

Published by Knopf, 2019, audio by Random House
Audiobook obtained from
272 pages

Rating: 2/5

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1 comment:

  1. Yikes. 2 hats. I am impressed that you finished the book if it really didn't work for you. I am all about abandoning books that I am not enjoying.


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