Her Fearful Symmetry
By: Audrey Niffenegger

Quick-take: Slow start, and then mildly interesting.

Dan's Review

An estranged aunt dies and leaves her flat in London to two young adult American twins (Julia and Valentina) living in the United States. There are some odd stipulations and questions (why leave it to the nieces and the sister, why the strange rules)? The twins, anxious to leave the house, as young adults tend to want to do, accept.

When the twins finally get to London, the book finally gets interesting. Note, this is about a fourth of the book to get here. I am not sure if I am an impatient or unsteady reader, but I had a lot of trouble digesting the book until here.

Characters get introduced on a regular basis, and the book freely jumps between them. I wish I did not have to get dragged so far along. Please, tell me why I should care about this character.

There is hope. The lives of all the random characters do eventually get connected, but it only helps mildly. You don't need to be too focused on all the minor details the author seems to like to give. I think detailing quirks and idosyncrancies is supposed to be a technique to make them feel more real? It did not do much for me.

On to the story itself. The twins are "mirror twins". They look identical insofaras if one were to look in the mirror. A mole on the right will appear on the left. These twins are the rare case of even their internal organs are mirrored. Valentina's heart is even on the right side. Apparently, though extremely rare, this is a true condition. TIL. Valentina's condition is not a healthy one, but it is survivable. The book reflects that.

This only served a minor plot point. If the book is going to do something so extraordinary as have something so rare as mirror twins, why not actually do something with it in the story?

There are so many missed chances and odd choices in plot trajectory. The upstairs neighbor has crippling OCD and anxiety issues. Julia decides to help him out. That eventually starts to work out. Big whoop.

From the synopsis and title, I thought this would be a some kind of horror novel. It is not. It could be best thought as a coming-of-age novel. It is mostly about 2 inseparable siblings that must become independant to proceed in their lifes goals. The fact that each have their own goals in itself a stress point. How do they move on? That is the basis of the story.

The book is slog with a few very good highlights. I don't think those few high make up enough for so many detours. Did we need a chapter on a trip to a picnic in a random park? Another chapter about an outing to go shopping? Please, something worthwhile happen.

Score 3/5. Time Traveler's Wife is a much better book.

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