I received a free ebook in exchange for an honest review.
Overall, I had to give this book 3 stars and I feel that rating is being generous. It wasn't a bad book necessarily, there were just too many cons that outweighed the pros.
If I were to solely rate on description, Appel would get 4 stars, but plot-wise, he gets a 2. Most of the stories were painfully boring and anti-climactic. While I don't have a problem with longer short stories, these were far too long for the amount of plot they exposed. I could not get into them and felt bored most of the time reading them. There were a few that had good plots, but they ended with such a disappointing open end that they were not very satisfying. Throughout most of the stories I felt myself thinking, "When is this going to end?" and upon finishing I thought, "Really? That's the end?". Very disappointing on the whole.
The first three stories are eerily similar as they describe creepy teenagers with obsessive fictions on their love interests and unhappily married parents. Most of the stories deal with loneliness, which is intriguing, but none of the characters were likeable enough to stir any sympathy in me.
I also really disliked Appel's descriptions of women and "non white" characters. The female characters are harshly judged on their appearances and overly sexualized. The few "non white" characters that grace the pages are described by their race/ethnicity (the "Jamaican nanny") while white characters are described by their physical features ("blonde child").
The only redeeming aspect of this book was the last story, "The Vermin Episode", an amusing retelling of The Metamorphosis recounting what happens after Gregor's death told from the perspective of the Samsa's neighbor.