Customer Reviews for

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

Interesting and Different

This books is interesting in that it is fairly compelling, but definitely offbeat. As an English teacher, I find some of the slang and strange sentence structure slightly off-putting, but certainly not enough to put the book down. I find Latin American history/culture...
This books is interesting in that it is fairly compelling, but definitely offbeat. As an English teacher, I find some of the slang and strange sentence structure slightly off-putting, but certainly not enough to put the book down. I find Latin American history/culture extremely fascinating, so the novel's take on the Trujillo Era is quite engaging. I would recommend it to a friend, but it is neither light nor easy reading,so better for a book club/somewhat serious read than escapist or beach reading...

posted by 3333108 on May 16, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

26 out of 35 people found this review helpful.

Doesn't live up to the hype.

After reading so many positive reviews and hearing about the numerous awards this book won, I was extremely anxious to get my hands on a copy. Once I did, however, I was disappointed. I was expecting Diaz's style to be much more subtle and sophisticated, based...
After reading so many positive reviews and hearing about the numerous awards this book won, I was extremely anxious to get my hands on a copy. Once I did, however, I was disappointed. I was expecting Diaz's style to be much more subtle and sophisticated, based on what I'd read in the reviews, and was rather underwhelmed by his style of prose. The characters had the potential to be very interesting, but I think the author tried to delve too deeply into too many of them, thus leaving the reader with a shallow impression of all. Oscar, especially, disappointed me. While he may not be a typical DR boy, he is the standard nerdy American boy stereotype. I almost felt as if I was reading a random YA paperback with subpar writing and a so-so plot. I enjoyed the supernatural elements of the book, but they were so few and far between, and examined so briefly, that Diaz might as well just have left them out. The Spanish sentences and the footnotes didn't bother me. If I don't understand something, I can always find an internet translation site, and while the footnotes did drag a bit at times, my understanding of the book would have been severely prohibited without them. Overall, not a bad book by any means, but certainly not one of my favorites. Perhaps if my expectations hadn't been so high to start with I would have enjoyed it more.

posted by Anonymous on April 30, 2008

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2013

    Well trained writer...

    The ending was terrible. Whatever the author had to say about life I didn't agree with.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 12, 2013

    I like Junot Díaz's writing, though I found myself cringing at h

    I like Junot Díaz's writing, though I found myself cringing at his vulgarity.. maybe his crudeness was for shock value? I don't know.. However, I did like the book (the plot was interesting), but if you are in high school, I recommend waiting till you're a little older to read it. (I'm a freshman and while I don't regret reading this book, I do wish I waited.)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2013

    This book was a little boring.  I loved the narrative and some o

    This book was a little boring.  I loved the narrative and some of the imagery.  But, I didn't think the plot was very interesting.  I found myself drifting often and rather disappointed.  It wasn't bad at all, but it wasn't one of my favorites. 

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 15, 2012

    Great story, too long

    I tried to like this book. Because I like the author. Junot is a masterful writer. But here he tells an interesting story that could have used some editing. He includes some unnecessary subplots that only take up time. The saying less is more would have been applicable here.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 20, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Took me on a ride, then fizzled

    Reading this book was like watching a soap opera. You can't ignore it but it didn't have enough substance.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 16, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Wasn't What I Was Expecting

    I'm still not sure what makes this book a literary genius. First off I dislike fiction stories that include footnotes. Although, I know they are there to state facts, I still found myself not reading them. There is an interesting history trapped in these pages. And that I did enjoy. I liked the story involving Oscar's heritage and the history of the Dominican. He's mother's story was particularly harrowing. But, the story of Oscar himself bordered on vulgar at times. I felt like it was 340 pages of a man's desire to have sex for the first time. I finished it (and it took me longer than most books this size do), but I don't feel I learned anything from it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2009

    I FINISHED IT JUST FOR THE SAKE OF FINISHING IT

    The random jumps into spanish was not even the worst part of this book, although i did find myself reading next to my computer and googling a bunch of spanish words. but the biggest complaint i have is that the story just lagged, there were a few key moments in it but for the most part i just found myself coasting through paragraphs. The writing style is also really annoying, the author refused to insert a single quotation mark and the way the story is organized into big chunks of different people's lives forces you to try and get intersted in the story all over again. I can understand a Dominican enjoying the book and the the sheer redundancy of the story, but for a reader who doesnt give a rats @$$ about the DM it got really boring. and ps; oscar wao is not a very memorable character, and is barely mentioned throughout large portions of the story. dont waste your time with this book

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2014

    Good story

    Had some difficulty with some of the slang, but it was a god read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2013

    Interesting

    An atypical plot. Good if you are in search of something different to read.

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  • Posted May 15, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    I did like The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. .

    I did like The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. . . but I didn't love it.  I LOVED This is How You Lose Her so much more!   

    I think it's partly because I love the character Yunior and he plays a much smaller part in The Brief.  

    In the book, Oscar is a kind of pathetic kid, nerdy, overweight, and not very successful with the ladies.  Could it be because of a family curse?  

    However, I still recommend this book because it was good and because I got to meet Junot Diaz and he seems to be amazingly awesome.  

    And there are some cool quotes, such as: 

    "It was the curse that made me do it, you know."  "I don't believe in that sh*t, Oscar.  That's our parents' sh*t."  "It's ours, too, he said." - p 194

    and. . . 

    "Nothing more exhilarating (he wrote) than saving yourself by the simple act of waking." - p 201

    Thanks for reading, 

    Rebecca @ Love at First Book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2012

    Unusual

    Informative, but not a book I enjoyed.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2011

    Lost on me

    Among the attractions for many folks seemed to be - the allusions to Dominican history and culture, the pop-nerd references like RPG, anime and comic books, the use of footnotes to expand the story and further weave in a narrator, the changing voice to build in the back story, etc. Unfortunately, the combination of these left me feeling like I missed a lot. The storyline behind all that is nice but in my opinion is obscured by the muddled effects.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2011

    Its Okay

    The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz is a novel that thrilled me at first but as the book went on I lost intrest. The beginning of this novel was about a Dominican boy who was trying to find love while battling the so called "family curse". This caught my attention and was immeadiatly hooked. Diaz made it seem like he was talking to me and my past but through this book. The boy Oscar was a ladies man when he was a little kid, living in his house with sister and old world mother who was never home because she was working to pay for their futres. But as the book progresses he goes from a slim, sweet talking kid to a large, game lover person with little people skills. I can relate because I am somewhat shy and never really had the luck with the ladies. As the story progresses though, it encompasses the whole family who I honestly do not care about. It goes to what the mother went through in her childhood in the Domnican Republic under the rule of Trujillo and how the curse started, his sister's various attempts to become independant of her mother, Osacar's long dead grandfather and Oscar's closest friend Junior. This made up most of the book. I liked that Diaz sets up the main story with these stories to greatly impact the reader but i just wanted to read about Oscar, he was the character I had the connection too. The other characters were really just fillers so that it would take up space. The ending of the book I figured out during the final chapters as Oscar is battling for the love of a woman from a corrupt cop and his lackies. I knew that ending was coming and how it ended but Diaz made up for it with the final pages about how Oscar changed the people around him while he lived. I liked the book and highly recommend it to the avid reader who does not mind graphic language. Diaz has successfully blended history and fiction in this book in my opion.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2009

    Not popular with our book club!

    We found this novel to be a disappointment.

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  • Posted April 8, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Good book for our book group

    Our book group had another good discussion after reading this book. Several of us weren't entirely sure if we'd liked it, but one thing we all agree on was that we were glad we'd chosen to read it.

    The language is a problem; lots of dialect words that are neither English nor Spanish. But I was impressed that the author created a voice that was easy to read, despite the foreign words, and clear to understand.

    The narrators were another problem. We weren't sure we liked them, or really wanted to know them. I was intrigued by the fact that the first narrator's identity isn't revealed till halfway through the book, and also by the way each character's voice was so well-defined, leaving no doubt when there was a change.

    We weren't too sure about the footnotes. They made sense at the start, but got a bit lengthy and distracted us from the story. Some of us gave up reading them.

    And the ending seemed to be an issue too. Some though it too violent or too downbeat. Personally, I liked it and even found it sort of positive. It made sense. It was worth the price.

    And the book was worth the reading; we all agreed on that despite our misgivings. A fascinating insight into a different world and its people and history.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2009

    Good book, not a great book

    This book was a page-turner and the various characters inspired empathy. The plain-spoken style of the novel would have made it an easy read but if you don't speak Spanish, it's a little like reading War and Peace without speaking French; you are constantly stumbling as your reading pace is interrupted by words that are not always clearly translated through the use of context clues.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 13, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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