Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Back to the Classics.. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS i blatantly discuss character identities and the end of the book in this review; this is your warning to pick another of my posts to read if you plan on reading Monte Cristo at any point soon.

Oh. My. God. This book is insanely detailed and in depth, but it is such a great story. I do not recommend reading this if you have trouble keeping track of characters or following plot lines. Dumas jumps from character to character, at times spending entire chapters talking about characters and events that hardly even seem relevant to the original story. It is one of the most annoying things to be reading about the adventures of Albert and Franz in Rome, to all of a sudden be faced with a chapter on a telegraph and the man in charge of receiving and relaying messages. While it makes sense by the end of each chapter why Dumas put the material in, it is difficult to read the chapter and understand who is being talked about, and what's going on, and what relevance it has to the central plotline.

That being said, I think that the Count of Monte Cristo was a very well written novel, and I wish more books were still written like this today. Dumas used excellent metaphors and descriptions of characters, settings, and events, that it made me feel like I was in Rome, or in Italy, or any of the various settings throughout the story. Definitely not a 'light' read, but a fun one assuming you can handle such a long book.

One of my favorite aspects of this book is the emotion and passion that Dumas gave to his characters. The reader really feels the tragic plight of Edmund Dantes, and the thrill of meeting the Count of Monte Cristo on his island. Simply reading this book has gotten me much more interested in reading the classics; hopefully I continue reading more of them, and am just as interested in them.

Things I didn't like:
- Too long. I think a lot of descriptions could have been removed, as they would not hinder understanding of the major players, and major plot developments throughout the story.
- Chapter beginnings. Every new character is introduced as 'the traveler' or something similarly vague. It was interesting that the reader learns the characters' identities as the main characters in the book do, but a little omniscience would have been nice in making the book more understandable.
- What happens to Bennedetto??? And to Albert and Madame de Morcerf? I would have really liked seeing the Count and Mercedes together at the end of the story, and was a little upset that they weren't. Mercedes deserved happiness..
- Where the hell does Franz end up? A lot of the characters in this book get kind of neglected by Dumas, and I rather liked Franz d'Epinay. Ah well, Morrel becomes a much more important character than I thought he would, which was a nice plot development.

Things I liked:
- Morrel and Valentine. No explanation needed, they were simply my favorites.
- Vengeance was so sweet in this book. It's nice to see good things happen to good characters, and bad characters get their comeuppance. No more of this 'nice guys finish last' crap.
- The story itself was outstanding. Like I said, I do not regret picking this book up, and would gladly read it again. Only I would do so during summer vacation, and prepare to take plenty of time to read it. I wasn't expecting it to take me this long, and to cut into my semester. I hate having to choose between homework and recreational reading, especially since I'd take books over homework any day.

Overall, I definitely enjoyed my time reading this book. I just wish it had been a little shorter, and that Dumas would have properly introduced his characters. It was pretty irritating to read a chapter about some mysterious gentleman, to be introduced to him later in the chapter, nay, the book! and have to remember what he was like, and the details or at least the gist of his side plot line. Definitely recommend reading this book, but be prepared to take some time out of your busy schedule for it :)

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