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Stephanie Zacharek. . .[P]uts you in a drug user's head, but it doesn't give you enough reasons to want to stay there.
— The New York Times Book Review
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Posted February 11, 2006
I picked this book up solely for the title. Had it been called anything else, I probably would have put it down within the first twenty pages. I think this is either a love-it or hate-it book - the parts that I found well-written were all entangled with clumsier, less graceful and overly wordy passages. I felt I knew the narrator's outcome long before the novel got off the ground (about three quarters of the way through). I didn't find Ellen Miller's protagonist Ilyana likeable to the point of cheering her on. Instead of gracefully expressing the pain of heroin addiction and sexual masochism, Ilyana comes off more as whining and self-absorbed - which is really the major turn-off of the book, not being able to sympathize with the protagonist - especially when such a character could have such a high level of potential connection. The plot to me seemed too self-involved and too slow-moving to be satisfying. The entire novel feels like Miller is trying to make things overly complicated - I think that would be the biggest drawback of this book it's just too excessive. Several times I found myself thinking, 'Just cut it off...there!' With the amount of action and depravity packed in, I think Miller's talent (which is present, nevertheless) would be more appropriately expressed in shorter form, i.e., several very compelling short stories or novellas. And speaking of excess - there are several scenes (the 'cucumber scene' being one of them) that will be with me, and not in a particularly good way, for a long time. Miller is effective at shocking the reader, but after the first two or three times, really, it gets old, and then it just gets gross. But like I said, some parts are very beautiful and very precise. I found the passages about Ilyana's psychosis pinpoint, along with the haphazard apathy of Ilyana's relationship with her ex-roomate's ex-boyfriend who is also addicted to heroin, HIV positive, and dead by the end of the novel. I have to give Miller credit, despite the discrepancies of her novel: I read this book months ago and I am still thinking about it. The best I can say for this book is that it definitely puts you in a drug user's head - but it doesn't give you enough reason to stay.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 27, 2002
Like Being Killed is something else. I could hardly put it down and wanted to finish as soon as I could. Ellen Miller does an amazing job of getting into the characters heads. It was great though rough.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 14, 2002
Share this book. It is a story about hope. Pure and simple. Hope, in the most raw way, a story about the craving to feel connected with another human being and the spirit's need for forgiveness. Yes, perhaps in places the words get thick, but this is representative of the way the main character's mind works, which is vital to understanding the story. I have seen lives like these before and can say with all certainty, this is as accurate as one can make fiction, as real as the grit under your nails and the sweat in your eyes. You can feel the urgency in the characters and beyond that, you will feel their hope. Even if you do not enjoy the book (for the author is unashamed to be crude and disgusting to make the story real), Like Being Killed deserves your attention through to its conclusion, only there will you discover how (like) being killed really feels.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 31, 2002
Posted November 21, 2000
The prose of this book are extraordinary! I read the book in a 24 hour period- or I guess I should say I devoured the book. The main characters are extremely creative and yet somehow personable and relateable- even for someone who knows little to nothing of the world they occupy. Ilayna is one of the most enjoyable characters I've had the honor of getting to know- however some of her experiences are at best dramatically enhanced. The ending is very comforting- I felt it was the perfect conclusion to this masterpeice of words and thoughts- it was a great experience for me to get inside the head (even if it meant that at times my stomach turned (ie the cucumber scene) of a lifestyle I will hopefully never know and a person who I would never under anyother circumstances have the privy to hear a story from. Isn't that what good fiction is about?Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 27, 2000