Customer Reviews for

The Falls

Average Rating 3.5
( 62 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(21)

4 Star

(12)

3 Star

(11)

2 Star

(12)

1 Star

(6)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

13 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

Oates at her most beautiful

THE FALLS is the kind of breathless, unrelenting novel we can only read once or twice a year considering the energy it saps from you. But it¿s a good draining, for the book is like a marathon, and the breathlessness we feel at the end is not strained but earned from wh...
THE FALLS is the kind of breathless, unrelenting novel we can only read once or twice a year considering the energy it saps from you. But it¿s a good draining, for the book is like a marathon, and the breathlessness we feel at the end is not strained but earned from what we are willing to give it, and what it gives to us. Its forceful and fully realized characters allow the plot to pulse along at breakneck speed, and we are rewarded by the enthralling story Oates has spun from her seemingly bottomless imagination. While it may not be the most astounding of Oates¿s numerous dazzling achievements (for me, that novel is WHAT I LIVED FOR), THE FALLS is nonetheless a testament to the idea of fictions as entertainments, and of a novel¿s ability to speak from its own subconscious but compelling narrative voice. Oates¿s evocation of time and place in and around the Niagara Falls area of New York is, as usual, on display to full effect, and the powerful female protagonist (Arriah) becomes¿by novel¿s end¿one of Oates¿s most memorable. If you know anything of Oates¿s corpus, this is a not a small thing. Highly recommended, and highly entertaining.

posted by Anonymous on June 14, 2005

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Most Helpful Critical Review

7 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

A gripping novel marred by sloppy writing.

The jacket of the novel proclaims, 'A stunning achievement from Joyce Carol Oates, 'One of the great artistic forces of our time.' (The Nation) 'It alone places Joyce Carol Oates definitively in the company of the Great American novelists.' The generally acerbic Kirkus...
The jacket of the novel proclaims, 'A stunning achievement from Joyce Carol Oates, 'One of the great artistic forces of our time.' (The Nation) 'It alone places Joyce Carol Oates definitively in the company of the Great American novelists.' The generally acerbic Kirkus Reviews wrote a flattering review also: 'It's her best ever and a masterpiece.' So I picked up the bulky book with great expectation of experiencing the joy of reading a good book. Alas, I was quite startled by the sloppy sentences written with very little care for either grammar or style. She says about Dirk Burnaby. 'He, Dirk Burnaby, whom women adored, and some of them happily married rich women, ignored by this woman!' 'The tall gaunt house in Palmyra, New York, mud-colored brick and rotted shingleboards in the roof and a congregation of less than two hundred people, most of them middle-aged and older, to whom the young minister must 'prove' himself.' Did the author mean fewer than two hundred people, not less than two hundred people? About Douglas she writes: 'He was proud husband and father of two-year-old girl twins.' Did she mean twin girls, not girl twins? Joyce uses nouns as adjectives, and adjectives as if they were adverbs. Her sentences grated upon my ears, and I wondered - how could a winner of the National Book Award (for 'Them', 1970) write such sloppy English? The novel is littered with sentences that run almost for ever, leaving readers jaded. I had to stop frequently to follow the author's chain of thoughts. Oh, what is the author trying to say? And often I had the distinct impression that she was trying to enter the Guiness Book of Records for writing the longest sentence in print:' His back bone was snapped, and snapped, and snapped like the dried wishbone of a turkey clutched at by giggling children and his body was flung lifeless as a rag doll at the foot of the Horseshoe Falls, lifted and dropped and lifted again amid the rocks and sucked down amid churning water and winking miniature rain drops, lost now to the appalled sight of the sole witness at the railing at Terrapin Point - though shortly it would be regurgitated from the foot of The Falls and swept downriver three-quarters of a mile past the Whilrpool Rapids and into the Devil's Whirlpool where it would be sucked down from sight and trapped in the spiraling water - the broken body would spin like a deranged moon in orbit until, in His mercy, or His whimsy, God would grant the miracle of putrifaction to inflate the body with gases, floating it to the surface of the foaming gyre, and release.' Wow! I found myself longing for the precise and elegant prose of V. S. Naipaul, Joseph Conrad, Yann Martel or Jane Austen. This could have been a wonderful book if only the editor had wielded her/his pencil diligently. Too bad. I found the story quite gripping, though. But the writing is flawed, like a face with beautiful, even angelic, features but marred by acne and pocks.

posted by Anonymous on November 18, 2004

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2006

    Was the plot washed over The Falls as well?

    I could never find the point of the story. Characters came and went without resolve. Other times major plots were hinted at and then nothing ever became of them (ie Who was Chandler's biological father?) Sometimes the story telling became a first person narrative yet who was speaking was never clearly defined. I was left feeling confused and disappointed. There could have been much more to this story.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2013

    So many words, so little to enjoy

    I've enjoyed books by Ms. Oates in the past, and looked forward to reading the Falls. The story had promise, but most of the content of the book was beyond tedious. The primary character was self absorbed and impossible to care for. So many words to describe so little action.
    I slogged through to the end hoping for some closure. Nope. None, none at all. Just lots of words, and no real finish.
    Avoid this book, there's too many better books out there.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 8, 2013

    Recommend

    The story was a good one, but very graphic with death details. At first, I liked the female character, but 1/2 way through the book, I didn't like her very much at all. Also, it was hard to like her husband and her children. The "falls" was a good lesson in history, but I have to like my characters.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2014

    The reviews were off putting but had akready tried to wade through years ago

    Never bother with a five review and seldom the editorial as the latter wants sales long fives will give the plot away so scan the five to eight page and save reading the quotes on one long one star review are unbelievable bad writibg m.a. @sparta

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2013

    Miserable read

    I gave this 2 stars instead of 1 because the beginning was somewhat interesting and enjoyable and i did not yet despise the majority of the characters. Once i continued reading the main character Ariah is despicable and continues to be for the remainder of the books. When the author changes point of view and writes from her children s eyes it is so dull i skimmed about 30+ pages. When i finished it i was so annoyed at the lack of justice it just made me mad. This coming from a reader who generally loves all books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2013

    Anonoymous

    There were times when the story dragged but I did get hooked on the main characters. I felt like my book was missing pages when I got to the end. Many loose ends. I have looked for a sequel but haven't found one yet.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2010

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    Posted March 19, 2013

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    Posted February 25, 2011

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    Posted January 1, 2013

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    Posted February 18, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2010

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