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Customer Reviews for

The Emperor's Children

Average Rating 2.5
( 97 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(14)

4 Star

(15)

3 Star

(14)

2 Star

(17)

1 Star

(37)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

Great, sly book!

I'm not sure where the reservations about the author's elegant prose style come from. The sentences are long but well-constructed and don't require rereading. If you can negotiate Dickens, Austen--or Philip Roth, for that matter--you'll be fine. And the vocabulary ...
I'm not sure where the reservations about the author's elegant prose style come from. The sentences are long but well-constructed and don't require rereading. If you can negotiate Dickens, Austen--or Philip Roth, for that matter--you'll be fine. And the vocabulary isn't particularly demanding. However, the book is partly a satire, and if you require a character with whom you can identify, you might find the book off-putting for that reason. Messude is poking fun at these shallow people.

posted by Anonymous on April 21, 2013

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Most Helpful Critical Review

6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

I won't finish it

I've been trying to like this book, really I have. The long, protracted sentences with the stream-of-consciousness asides between the dashes have driven me nuts. I keep waiting for it to get better, and came here to read reviews to see if I had something to look forward...
I've been trying to like this book, really I have. The long, protracted sentences with the stream-of-consciousness asides between the dashes have driven me nuts. I keep waiting for it to get better, and came here to read reviews to see if I had something to look forward to. Apparently not - the characters remain as self-absorbed and stereotypical as I have already assumed, and apparently nothing clever happens through the rest of the book. I won't finish it - there are too many other books waiting!

posted by Anonymous on August 18, 2008

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 18, 2008

    I won't finish it

    I've been trying to like this book, really I have. The long, protracted sentences with the stream-of-consciousness asides between the dashes have driven me nuts. I keep waiting for it to get better, and came here to read reviews to see if I had something to look forward to. Apparently not - the characters remain as self-absorbed and stereotypical as I have already assumed, and apparently nothing clever happens through the rest of the book. I won't finish it - there are too many other books waiting!

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2008

    Only book club member to finish this book!!

    We have six members in our book club. I was the only one able to finish the book. Everyone else gave up. Please do not waste your money. This was the most boring book I have ever read.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2008

    A '..manuscript that would seem to him both pretentious and trite...'

    The title is a quote from this novel, and I could not have asked for a more appropriate line. This novel focuses on a group of people that seemingly classify themselves as the 'social elite' of the ever popluar New York. What they really are is a group of people lacking a conscience, and conscienciousness, for their surroundings, their loved ones, and life in general. Their only concerns are selfish, though they pretend to all, including themselves, that they are of a higher moral level than anyone else on the planet. Their personal relationships are false and shallow, as are their lives. I believe the main aim of this book was for the author to congratulate herself on her extensive vocabulary, thus perpetuating the idea that this novel is only for the most elite of the literati. Guess what - I am a normal American citizen with a decent, though not Ivy League, education, and I know all of those words, too. I also worry about normal things like car payments,the weather forecast and what I need to buy at eh grocery store, unlike Messud's characters who never have these concerns. If you like to pat yourself on the back for reading a drab novel about self-important characters, than this book is for you. If you like novels that not only entertain but open up a new point of view or dialogue on interesting subjects, please, move on.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2013

    Great, sly book!

    I'm not sure where the reservations about the author's elegant prose style come from. The sentences are long but well-constructed and don't require rereading. If you can negotiate Dickens, Austen--or Philip Roth, for that matter--you'll be fine. And the vocabulary isn't particularly demanding. However, the book is partly a satire, and if you require a character with whom you can identify, you might find the book off-putting for that reason. Messude is poking fun at these shallow people.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 22, 2012

    I couldn't get past page 37. The author thinks in commas- what

    I couldn't get past page 37. The author thinks in commas- what a horrible waste of mind space. I found myself twitching and hyperventilating from the torture of commas and paragraph long sentences. Just couldn't take it anymore and threw the book in the trash at page 37. I can become very engaged in any book, on any subject matter if it is well written. This was pure torture.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2009

    Wow...tedious

    Why the hype???...i struggled to finish this book..and only because i had invested so much time in it. The author writes like a 16th century philosophy professor...the vocabulary was outrageous...it's like she sat there with a dictionary and find six of the most quaint and unusual words to put in one sentence. Is she trying to prove she has a vast vocabulary??? not impressed!!...the characters are another story...no depth to any of them. The ending was also weird..the story lines not properly tied up. i was left feeling cheated...out of time i could be reading something else and the time i spent on this farce of a story, only to be utterly disappointed in the end... i will remember this book for how overrated it is.

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 1, 2009

    A Snapshot of Dysfunctional Lives

    Claire Messud is a brilliant writer with great descriptive powers. She has crafted a snapshot of several months in the lives a group of friends living in New York City. The problem for the reader is being able to care about any of these dysfunctional characters enough to make the book rise above the tediousness of their self-centered lives.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 23, 2009

    See it through

    I'd heard this was a marvellous book, but thought the characters were shallow and spoiled for the first few chapters. I stuck with it, and the depths of their stories were revealed. Truly amazing people, in normal lives (albeit priveleged and quite 'new york'), experiencing the frailities and struggles everyone does but with an intelligent quizzical mirror held up against themselves. You know their faults, admire their strange and marvellous achievements, and you see their mistakes coming, cringe for them, and sometimes hope for them (even the ones you find distasteful). When I finished I sat still for about 1/2 an hour, just stunned by how affected I was by their stories and by Messud's gentle, thoughtful, deeply quiet and quietly deep writing.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2008

    Captures an age

    More than anything I was captivated by the slow and subtle development of the characters, all of whom reminded me of people I have known .. somewhat ordinary people living NOW in that 30-40 age group who are educated and in some sense worldly and sophisticated, and yet have not quite found themselves. I thought it very well written - there were some very lovely turns of phrase - and there were enough surprises to keep me interested. Finally I liked it for the fact that it made me think: about the nature of relationships, of heroes, of fallibility and of humanity.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 20, 2012

    Are we reading the same book?

    I rarely read a book twice. But I will be doing so shortly. This book I found hard to put down. The characters are real. The egos easy to see if you have ever been in the business world.

    Danielle reads like someone I knew. As others have ask. Read the book through!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 31, 2009

    Decent Read

    This was a good book- a decent read though a little long winded at times. The characters were intertwined and the stories wove into each other and kept me interested.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 23, 2013

    This is an excellent novel. To potential buyers turned off by ot

    This is an excellent novel. To potential buyers turned off by other reviewers, many of them admit they didn't finish the book. The ending makes the novel.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 26, 2009

    An Avid Reader of all Genres

    I'm half way through this book and I can't bring myself to finish it. It's awful, I don't like the characters.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2008

    A complete waste of time.

    For those of you who seem to feel that those of us who didn't like this novel simply didn't 'get it' because of some sort of education gap, I have a university education in literature, creative writing, and anthropology, and I still found this book to be an utter waste of time. Generally, writers who cling to such a needless level of verbosity are trying to camouflage weaknesses in other areas of their writing, and that seems to be the case here, as both plot and characters are seriously lacking. I don't really care if the author intended for this to be some sort of extended character sketch demonstrating the flawed nature of humanity and so on and so forth- if a book is so monumentally dull that merely thinking about finishing it nearly brings you to tears, the story has failed. I think this book is another case of an author trying to write in an overly 'literary' style to please the egos of his or her more pretentious readers, and forgetting completely to include an interesting plot and believable characters and dialogue.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2008

    Yawn. I want those hours of my life back!

    While the author's prose is sophisticated, her descriptions powerful, and the characters extremely well drawn, the premise of the book is weak. It's the story of three friends, one of which has a famous father and a creepy suicidal cousin, and how they betray and dismiss each other. The book crawls to an even more depressing end, culminating in how these insignificant and uninteresting lives experience the events of 9/11. The only thing I can recommend about this book is that you might learn a new word or two, and learn to read unnecessarily long sentences. Don't waste your time.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2014

    Unlike everyone it seems, I really enjoyed this book. Yes, the b

    Unlike everyone it seems, I really enjoyed this book. Yes, the beginning was long and it took awhile for the plot to unfold but once I got through it, it was difficult to put this book down. The ending was amazing, not what I expected but a good ending. It was hard to read at first, as each chapter started with a new character. Once you caught on though it is a great read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2013

    I found this book to be very good. Everybody complained about th

    I found this book to be very good. Everybody complained about the character development and the story line but i found it to be entertaining. Maybe that's what the author had in mind. This didn't have to be some deep, moving novel about a group of thirty somethings in New York. It could have simply been an entertaining look about the shallow , overly dramatic lives of a bunch of upper class people living in the city and i found it amusing. For me it played out the like a soap opera on paper. It's all in good fun. Yes the author did have long winded sentences with an enormous amount of vocabulary but what's a story about shallowness and pretension without a little of it thrown in the writing style? In my opinion the book had me hooked on that whole story line and the shallow, egotistical characters. And for those who say the story line was slow just give it a chance until all the characters start to interconnect. That's when things really start to get interesting.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2012

    A luminously written novel of very young "adults" tryi

    A luminously written novel of very young "adults" trying to find their way and their identities in New York.

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  • Posted March 16, 2011

    The worst of the worst

    This book is possibly the worst book I have ever attempted to read. I barely got through the first half of the book before giving up. The characters are one-dimensional, unbelievable, and unlikable. The plot is weak, and the long, overly-written sentences make reading a test of endurance. Although I didn't finish it, I never wondered what happened to the characters or the plot line: the story never left me wanting more. A complete waste of time and shelf space.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 12, 2011

    awful

    the writing was weak. the characters a waste of time. little development. i finished it hoping it would get better. i lost alot of time!

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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