Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens / ★★★★☆
Kya knew judgment had no place here. Evil was not in play, just life pulsing on, even at the expense of some of the players. Biology sees right and wrong as the same color in different light.
This book had its obvious imperfections, but I still found it to be a compelling, entertaining read. About Kya, the “Marsh Girl,” who was abandoned by her family at a very young age, we follow her as she grows up in isolation in a North Carolina marsh. The book opens with with the death of Chase Matthews, former star quarterback, in the marsh.
This is a slow read, and as slow as it was I never really found myself bored, but because it’s about a girl living by herself in the marsh, it can feel a little stifling. Still, I found that worked for it. It alternates between the past as we watch Kya growing up, and the present, as investigators try to solve the mystery of Chase Matthews’ death. I thought it helped pace the book well and gave us a little reprieve from Kya’s solitary world. I found this book compelling and unique, upsetting and frustrating at times, but overall not as dark as I expected it to be. Once I finished it, I had an “I see what you did there” moment when I fully understood how the author tied all the elements she used in this book together. To say anything would be to spoil it, but while I didn’t find perhaps as shocking as it meant to be, I thought it was satisfyingly clever.
Like I said, this book did have some obvious imperfections. For as beautiful a the writing was, I found it to be inconsistent at times, especially once we crossed over into the second half of the book and the plot began to pick up. I’d gotten used to the slow prose depicting Kya’s days when suddenly parts felt cheaply summarized, or the dialogue a little tacky. The pacing, which had been fairly consistent for the first half, starts to jump all over the place. I didn’t think it was terrible, just very noticeable. And in the intermediary chapters where two officers try to uncover the cause of Chase Matthews’ death, I don’t know if it was intentional, but these guys had no personalities. I couldn’t tell one apart from the other, I don’t even remember their names, and it made it a bit hard to focus on those chapters sometimes. Fortunately, they were always short.
But while imperfect, I did thoroughly enjoy this book. It’s a slow, thought-provoking read that I do recommend if you’re intrigued by all the hype around it. I would just recommend you set your expectations for something interesting and entertaining enough, but not a masterpiece.