Thursday 10 November 2011

Devouring Books: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

After I've written this review, I don't want to talk about this book ever again, because the more I think about it, the more annoyed I am about its shortcomings. It should probably be illegal for books to have such great titles and to not deliver on the content. The punishment should probably be a life sentence if that great title involves the word cake, because HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO RESIST IT?! Oh, the cruelty of the world!

Moving on... This book is supposed to be about this girl who, just before her ninth birthday, discovers she has an odd kind of synesthesia, where, when she tastes food, she feels the emotions that whoever has made the dish was feeling at the time. I thought this was an interesting enough concept, but here's the thing- Bender literally does nothing with it. I was waiting and waiting for something to arise out of Rose's 'special talent', but all I got was repetitive descriptions of factories foods came from, the fact that the school dinner lady was sad and whatnot, and I was pretty much like 'okayyy... but where's the story?'

More interesting than Rose's yawny skill was her creepy older brother who keeps disappearing and, whilst at this point I literally didn't care where he was disappearing to, it did freak me out because I was reading this at about half two in the morning, and, you know, things are scarier at night. Suffice to say, what was happening wasn't in the slightest bit scary, and was, in fact, ridiculous. Honestly. I mean, I kind of want to tell you all what happens, because, obviously I am your god(dess) and you want to do everything I say, but I'll restrain myself. Just, believe me, it's really really stupid, not at all explained, and a bigger part of the story than Rose's thing; but much more obscure. At this point, I was just going ARGH in my brain and trying not to die at the patheticness of it all.

Ahem. So I'm sure there were other things in it apart from these two ridiculousities, but I was in a severe sleep deprived state when I was reading it and so can't really remember much else about it. That is, except for this really really crappy failed romance thing between Rose and her brother's (only) friend (don't you enjoy that I can't be bothered to look up anyone's name) which basically consisted of her going 'omg, I've got this weird condition and I don't think I can have a boyfriend' and him going 'ok', not coming back and marrying some other woman. And there was literally no point to any of this at all! I couldn't cope with trailing off storylines and just general badness and oh my god what was the point of any of it?!

I'm going to slightly ruin the end for you now, but in the end Rose decides that the right thing for her to do is to work with food. Now, I don't know about you, but if I had this incredibly upsetting condition where eating food meant feeling the emotions of others, I'd pretty much avoid food as much as I could, and basically be an optician or something. There's no proper explanation for this decision, or pretty much anything in the book, and I'm now dubious of choosing books for their titles. Thanks a lot Bender. Thanks. A. Lot.


  1. This might be my favorite review of this book. The majority of the reviews I've read said the same thing (interesting concept that goes no where) but I like yours, because it reminds me of what I'd probably say if I had read it. Too bad cos it really is an interesting idea

  2. I love the way you started off this review! I'll admit, it made me feel better about my choice to pass this one up. For some reason this book always struck me as something I shouldn't bother with.

  3. @Red- Awwww, thanks :)- I've seen mainly positive reviews of it, which makes me wonder if some of these people were on some kind of substance when they read it...

    @Lola- Thanks for the love! And well done for being too smart to read this book. It was seriously a huge waste of my time!

  4. Yes, yes, yes. I was so excited because I won an ARC of this on Goodreads or something ages ago and it was such a let-down. I ended up sending it away to one of my friends, who was equally disappointed but luckily didn't hate me for giving it to her to try, lol.