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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 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • 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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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2011

    A Struggle to get through!

    This book came to highly recommended and was on so many book of the year lists, I was really looking forward to reading it. However, I found the characters uninspired, shallow and boring. I found the authors imagery and voice forced. By the end, I really just wondered what the point of the almost 500 pages was. Would not recommend this book and will not be reading anything else by this author.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2008

    Awful

    Insipid, selfish characters, a non-existent plot, and never-ending sentences make this novel a total failure.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2008

    Pompous and over punctuated

    I didn't even read this book. A friend occasionally reads me excerpts so we can talk about how awful it is. There is a comma every five words whether there should be or not and it looks like once the book was written the author or editor used a thesaurus on EVERY possible word. I was annoyed just hearing about it.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 26, 2007

    A reviewer

    This book is over-hyped, over-done and unreadable. The incomprehensible sentences make reading and rereading a chore and the pompous writing style is boring. Thwaite is a flimsy, poorly drawn character. Hygely disappointing novel.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2007

    A literary failure

    How disappointing. As someone who was raised and educated in New York City, I thought I would be able to relate to this book. Unfortunately the characters were without depth and definetly do not represent the 30-somethings who call New York home. There was no character development and the characters' conversations and interactions were unbelievable and trite. A tremendously unlikable group of people. I found it very difficult to sustain interest in this book and consider it a sad waste of time and money.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2007

    What a waste of time!

    I am really sorry that I didn't read other people's reviews before reading this book. It was vacuous and could have been written in 100 pages or less.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2007

    poor

    They don't get much worse than this requiem to the author's self-indugence. Neither plot nor character driven, the novel is overwhelmed with overly wordy and convolted sentences and archaic vocabulary. Difficult to read, difficult to sustain interest. Nothing compelled me to turn the pages. I finally gave up after suffering through three-quarters of the novel. Save your money.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2007

    A reviewer

    As someone who is familiar with the literary circles in New York, I could not wait to get my hands on this book. I expected it to be a page-turner, or at the very least, interesting, and so I was that much more disappointed to discover it an exceptional waste of time. The story is plodding and pointless, the characters obnoxious and unrelatable. And the dialogue (oh the dialogue!) is laughably bad. Conversations consist of obscure words strung together in complicated yet grammatically perfect sentences that would not be believable if attributed to the most pompous, well-educated aristocrat. I read the book in its entirety with the hope that it would redeem itself in the end. It did not.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 6, 2007

    PLEASE SAVE YOUR MONEY!!!!!!

    First of all let me start off by saying that this is probably the WORST book I have ever read (and I have read many many books in my lifetime) and I will NEVER EVER EVER read another book from this author. If you do buy the book you will need to have a dictionary with you also as half the words this author uses are words I have never heard before in my life. Mind you I consider myself pretty well educated. I don 't understand what she is trying to prove with the verbage she uses, that she knows a lot of big words? I felt at times I was reading another language. The plot of this book is also very boring as are the characters. Please do not be fooled by the reviews on the cover of the book, it stinks!! What a waste of money.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2007

    A reviewer

    This book was so boring and the grammar was so convaluted that it was torture to force myself to finish it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 13, 2007

    A reviewer

    This book was horrible. The charaters were vile and the writing was stiff and unnatural. It is several hundred page too long given the fact that there is no plot.I wish I could recommend this novel, but the only thing I can recommend is to not bother.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2007

    Don't be fooled...

    Given all the acclaim and time on NY Times bestseller list, I kept reading to see when it would be worth my time. I could not finish this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 27, 2007

    How Could This Be a NYT Selection?

    I am an educated, well-read book lover who enjoys good literature and well-writen novels. I could find nothing redeemable, inspiring, or recommendable in this book. It is smug and self-important, full of unnecessary, overly-long descriptions....take away this author's thesaurus...... and unappealing characters. The author writes with a superiority undeserved by her writing. I struggled through more than half the book before deciding it wasn't going to get better. I did not finish it and only regret spending money on this dismal failure.

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