The Collector

The Collector - John Fowles

This book has been showing up for ages on every list of things I ought to read practically ever, so after a few glowing reviews from people I actually knew, I decided it was probably time to read it. It is supposed to be the first real psychological thriller, and on that count it does seem to succeed (assuming it is the first--I fully admit to not researching that claim). The problem I had with it is that it is oddly told.


It is much harder to feel what you ought (or at least what I was hoping to feel) during the second half of the book, because everything has already played out. Okay, there are a few curiosities, but you know what is going to happen. It is intriguing to see the differing understandings of the characters on motivations and occasionally even exact events, but alternating chapters seems like a better way of handling this in a lot of ways. There was no question about whether she would succeed at this or that, because we had already seen it from his eyes. We had already seen everything from his eyes. So the "thriller" aspects were downplayed.


The characters themselves: wow. I'm not sure what the author was going for. I'm going to assume that we were not supposed to sympathize with either character for very long and were thus supposed to feel bad about ourselves a bit. That's kind of where I was throughout--I had moments of sympathy, but an awful lot of moments where I kind of wanted to just leave the two of them together to torture each other, because they were both terrible people. Differently terrible, but terrible all the same.


The writing styles of the two worked quite well in explaining their personalities--they did sound distinctly different, and they were well-realized characters, despite being awful. Well-realized awful people that you are willing to read about for an entire novel are tricky to pull off, so kudos for that.


The ending was quite good and had this been a movie (has this been a movie? Seems likely, now that I think about it.), it would have been a sequel hook, no question.


I'm glad I did read it, and I'll probably pick up more Fowles books, but it's not going on my "favorites" shelf anytime soon.