"Of Bees and Mist" by Erick Setiawan

So I read this, among other things this summer, a book called "Of Bees and Mist" by Erick Setiawan. And because I really fought to not put it down, I feel like I have earned the right to give my review on it.

The main character Meridia is this quiet super beautiful girl that lives in a complicated world so full of emotion that they manifest into physical things. Like bees, and mist. While the idea is interesting, I quite liked it, I think perhaps it went a little overboard, and the symbolism became too real and too physical to make sense.

What Erick accomplishes though is to weave increasingly frustrating webs of conflict and despair, wrecking torment and destruction on his characters. No soul is left unharmed, and all characters hate each other with varying intervals. While this does appear interesting at first, fails to come full circle almost every time.

The numerous conflicts all solve or dissolve at whims, with no sacrifice or with no realistic tension. For example, the boy who brews intense hate for his father, is suddenly able to overcome all this, with no logical strength. Just like that. In a couple of minutes. Seriously. So the universe at this, falls short of carrying a trustworthy story. The build up of hate and love and violence when ready to explode, pops and fizzes unsatisfyingly at climax, because as the drama is clever, the wit can't seem to unravel them in any way to do it justice.

The book is wildly metaphoric and psychologic, and lives off emotion. And these can sometimes be so splendidly accurate and terrifying, the read is beautiful. But sadly, the thoughts and actions change so fast and don't connect to human attributes. This is like blowing up a teen drama by a zillion, let it loose on a strange universe and let it ravage unrelenting. A lot is magical here, and so everything that doesn't make sense can hide behind that. But unfortunately the universe is full of holes and lacks depth, and so it fails to cloak the many shortcomings.

The characters are described in words, not by actions, and so don't seem very believeable. Their attributes are simply spelled out. This becomes especially embarrasing when their descriptions fail to apply when the time is right. The man introduced as "patient and warm" get fits of rage, and displays coldness unparallel to snow. Secondary characters lack all dimension whatsoever, and seem to be added just as a convenience.

The story as a whole is indeed a saga, it includes a lot of people and a lot of places, while some of these are interesting, the writer is unable to carry the weight of so much mass. The book is simply too short. The central love story is quickly woven over a couple of sentences, and so we are shielded from learning more about our characters through happiness or through friendship or love. The only lessons are given in times of despair, severe pain and loss. A lot of terrible and dramatic things happen in this book. Absolutely all the time. And there is no end to the tormenting hardships that ravage the characters. The read as a whole, has focus on dreadful events, backstabbing, slandering and unrelenting drama, losing its point and its credibility with each occurring horror.

I wanted to like this book, but I hated it, stopped reading, thought the better of it, and picked it up again. The antagonist is brilliant in her manipulation, and the characters so easily fall under her might. But because of all the things that go wrong, people only seem to get more and more motivated by unmentioned forces. The changes are strange and explained by senseless things, like the spoiled, spiteful girl suddenly becoming warm and fantastic and amazing because she's pregnant. Yeah, fucking right. The character development we witness, is either physical or unexplainable to the circumstances. Suddenly bitter foes are friends "through quiet understanding". Molested souls show incredible, unbeliveable loyalty to their molester, and I don't know. Everything just goes wrong in an awfully detailed way, and then is fixed way to lightly. The conflicts are not handled seriously enough.

I think this book is "too easy", the mysteries lack backing, the characters keep going, though stripped of all hope, and strange hallucinating dreamlike events occur all the time, without sufficient strength to ring enchanting. Everyone are very bautiful, everything is very magical, and everyone are deceiving and strange and otherwordly. I thought I was the perfect audience, but I just think this book has too many logical flaws and not enough depth to be enjoyed, even by me.


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