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Do you enjoy reading historical fiction novels? I love them because historical fiction is my favorite genre. So, naturally, when I came across A Savage Kultur, by Monique Roy, I was quite excited to read it. Unfortunately, the character dialogue struck a chord for me.
There was some good and bad in this story so let’s not waste time!
- A Savage Kultur
- Monique Roy
- Historical Fiction
- May 1, 2019
- 247 pages
Ava is a Jewish student at Oxford University in London. When her beloved grandfather passes away she receives a letter that was written by him. He left her his art gallery but he also tells her of his last wish. This last wish is for her to find a Van Gogh painting that was deemed degenerate and looted by the Nazi’s in 1937. Ava sets her heart and mind into fulfilling her grandfather’s last wish. What is the importance behind this painting? Will Ava find what has been missing for nearly 80 years?
Initial ThoughtsPhoto by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash
I promise you I am telling the truth when I say that I was super excited to read A Savage Kultur. It had all the things that I find an interest in:
- a historical fiction
- about WWII
- about art
If a book contains any one of these factors I will read it. But this book had all three so I was ready to get cozy and read to my hearts content. The beginning was a little boring but I knew it just had to be the set up of the story. I immediately liked the grandfather too so when he died I was a little dissapointed. But, when Ava received the letter I understood why he had to die.
With the book off to a reasonably good start, I was feeling excited to see where the story would go.
The Storyline Kept Me Just Curious Enough
Unfortunately, I quickly realized that this book was going to take awhile for me to read. It is not overwhelmingly long. It was just that my interest in the book began to dissipate more and more and more as I read.
The very basis of the story was the only thing pushing me along. I thought, the plot is great so it has to get better! In reality, I found Ava’s story to be uneventful. I remember telling my boyfriend that this story would have been way more interesting if it had been about Ava’s grandparents. As in, I wish the book had been about their story, told from their point of view.
To my surprise my wish came true. Almost half of the book does exactly that. The book is split pretty evenly from Ava’s point of view in the present, and her grandparent’s point of view in the past.
However, something was still missing. This book was hard for me to read not because of any complexity in it or because of a boring story-line, but for several other reasons. Let me explain why.
The Genre Is Historical FictionPhoto by Erika Fletcher on Unsplash
Some people may not care for historical fictions but I love them. They are a fun way to look at the past. They are also the reason I find out about things that happened in the past.
A Savage Kultur is considered historical fiction. It takes place in WWII for the most part, references to Hitler and the SS, and the story is revolved around an actual painting by Van Gogh that was deemed degenerate by the Nazis and is actually still missing.
However, other than Hitler, none of the character were once actual people. When I read historical fiction, I like at least one of the characters who have a prominent role in the book to have been a real person.
That’s why I liked the book Mrs. Poe (read my review of Mrs. Poe here) so much. Almost all of the characters in that book were real people.
In A Savage Kultur, no one was a real person. At least, not to my knowledge. This was a rather disappointing factor for me but I was able to overlook it as I read the story.
I will give credit where credit is due. Monique Roy did an excellent job at keeping the timeline and facts of the war together. I love reading about the world wars and I thought she did a good job at keeping the history alive.
Character Dialogue Is Far More Important Than I Realized
Most, if not all of my problems regarding this book surrounded the characters. In particular, the character dialogue. I found it hard for me to invest in any of the characters because of the conversations they would have throughout the entire story.
The character dialogue felt unrealistic. It was as if they were written with the intention of sounding wise. The issue with this was that they didn’t sound wise. They sounded fake. And yes, fictional characters are fake. But, as a reader, I want to feel like they could be real people.
The conversations between all of the characters did not flow well. It sounded scripted and forced rather than natural. I wish that Monique Roy would have spent a little more time making the characters conversations more relatable.
Before reading A Savage Kultur, I hadn’t realized the importance behind character dialogue. All the other books I have read always had conversations that felt smooth and real for the most part. There is the occasional clunky saying but with this book, it was the whole book.
It was because of this that the book was hard to read. It took me much longer to read this book than many others because I just could not get into the story.
The Character’s Beyond The Character Dialogue
So, the dialogue was a major issue for me. Because of this I could not for the life of me feel attached to any of the characters. The grandfather was who I felt the “closest” to but even then it wasn’t enough for me to fall in love with the story.
One major problem I had character wise was with Ava’s boyfriend. He was presented as an important character in the beginning of the book but then he was hardly mentioned later on in the story. I felt like their love story was unnecessary for the progression of the story.
There didn’t seem to be any real reason for this character to be written in. Even now as I try to think of his importance, I can find none. If he was taken out of the plot, the story would continue as is and for that reason, I think he was unneeded.
Ava and her grandfather were the main characters for this story. The grandfather was easier to get attached too but this is a problem because he doesn’t take priority until halfway through the book. Ava is the main focus for the entire first half and the last couple of chapters of the book.
The problem I had was that I just couldn’t connect to her. She is a college student who loves art. I just finished getting my bachelor’s and will be going for my master’s this fall. I also love art. One would think I would be able to relate to her quite easily. Unfortunately, she just wasn’t.
I cared more about other smaller characters than I did her. Normally this would not be that big of a deal. However, she is the main character so as a reader, I feel like I should care about her the most.
I really struggled with what star rating to give A Savage Kultur. I was really rooting for it to be a good story. In the end, the story-line just didn’t outweigh the other issues I had with the book. I will note that nearly half of the book that showcases the grandparent’s story was far better than the first half of the book. However, this was not enough because the character dialogue was still a problem to the point that it made it difficult for me to read the story. Because of this, I am giving A Savage Kultur 2.5/5 stars.
Let’s Talk About It!
There is some debate when it comes to what historical fiction is. I’d love to know what you consider to be historical fiction! Let me know in the comments below!
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