Daddy Love… by Joyce Carol Oates

Daddy Love was unlike most of the books I read. It was disturbing. It was irritating and annoying in its style of writing. It was without purpose.

Daddy Love

Daddy Love

Sadly, the ‘topic’ of the story is all too real. Children are abducted at an alarming rate. We turn on our televisions and computers or open newspapers without escaping these heinous crimes. When I read a book, I want to be transported to another world, I want the story to sweep me away, if only for a short time. I also want it to linger once I’m finished, until I can lose myself in the world of the next book I open. This is not a book anyone would want to lose themselves in. It is not a place you want to linger. I would like to forget it. Immediately.

First, the first three or four chapters are repetitive. The author writes the same sentences, almost verbatim, adding or subtracting bits of information. It worked in Groundhog Day, but this was not the place to imitate that approach.

As I mentioned, the style was annoying. Some dialogue was marked with quotation marks. Other dialogue was not. It was simply infused into the narration. Along with the dialogue, there was a lot of internal thoughts that went unspoken. The author’s style kept me from connecting with the characters on any level. The entire book had a distant feel to it.

The characters were one-dimensional. Even antagonists have to have a trait, an action, something the reader can relate to, sympathize with or even like. An example of this would be Kevin Costner’s character in A Perfect World. He is a criminal, but he shows compassion to his hostage when he takes him trick or treating. In that movie, his kindness wasn’t used in a punishment/reward situation as it is in Daddy Love. Chet Cash had NO redeeming qualities.

Oates does not ‘evoke images’, she blatantly states them. Thump, thump thumping his small body against the floor…. and his bleeding rectum. It is my opinion that (in a work of fiction), you should be selective in your choices. Knowing what Daddy Love had done and was doing should not have been so overtly stated. Even news outlets leave out the horrific details when reporting the events of such a  crime. I did not feel it made for a better read and simply added shock value to a book with little else going for it.

This book conjured up many emotions while reading, but unfortunately, none of which I want to take with me once I put it down. It seemed to stall on the horrific parts and once the boy escapes his abductor, that’s it. An abrupt ending.

I’m sure there will be many who left the book with a much different opinion, and that’s what makes us all different. Personally, I would not recommend it.

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Kathy Reinhart

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Gather 'round and let me tell you a story... View all posts by K.E. Garvey

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