My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I read a few positive reviews of The Twelve Rooms of the Nile, so I when I saw it at the library I figured I’d step outside the YA box. While I enjoyed the rich historical atmosphere, I found the pacing a little slow and the characters mostly unlikeable.
I was immediately struck by how easily Shomer immerses us in the time period, 1850s Egypt through the eyes of two Europeans, Gustave Flaubert and Florence Nightingale. She gives us a lot of details, but at no time did I feel overwhelmed. We’re introduced to this world through the eyes of the characters, and it felt natural instead of encyclopedic.
I was conflicted about our two main characters. I didn’t really like either of them – and I suspect the womanizing Gustave wasn’t supposed to be all that likeable, anyway – but at the same time, I thought they were realistic. Florence is an intelligent woman in a world that doesn’t value women’s intelligence, and as a result she feels trapped, knowing she could never be what society wants her to be. Gustave, meanwhile, has a lot of anxieties about making it as an author, as well as the impact his epilepsy has on his life. I didn’t like either character, but I was able to sympathize with them.
The pacing is a little slower than I like, mostly toward the beginning since things picked up in the middle. I also wasn’t a huge fan of the ending – I felt like it could’ve ended sooner than it did, and the ending that was there felt like something extra that was just tacked on.
The Twelve Rooms of the Nile was a fairly solid read for me. I wasn’t immediately sucked in and it didn’t consume my every thought, but it was a nice book for watching things unfold.
Currently Listening To: Ke$ha – “Die Young”
Currently Reading: Divergent by Veronica Roth