Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Power of One by Bryce Courtney

I recently came across a journal I kept while I was in France for three months in 2004. I had forgotten that I made lots of notes about the books that I read during that time. Here are my thoughts on Bryce Courtney's The Power of One, just as they were recorded back then.

[Warning. Major spoilers ahead. Proceed only if you've already read the book or never intend to.]

The book is divided into three parts and I enjoyed the first part very much. I liked it less and less from then on. Disliked the ending intensely.

Peekay is too perfect. The term Renaissance man is even used several times in the book. Although he is humble - a big point in his favour - I found him self-righteous. He turned down his friend's offer to pay for his schooling at Oxford because he was too proud to accept handouts... yet he would have taken a scholarship.

Minor complaint: the word 'approbation' is used too frequently.

The coincidence of Gideon Mantoma being the son of Peekay's nanny was almost enough to make me throw the book at the wall. And then they became as brothers? Puhleese!

The coincidence of Botha in the mines being the very same Judge of Peekay's childhood was too too much. What did the fight between them signify - other than revenge is sweet. This seems to go against the theme of love and tolerance through the rest of the novel. The fight with Botha coming so soon after the death of Rasputin also irked me. That he died saving Peekay was overly smarmy. It was all laid on too thick at the end.

And what about the Tadpole Angel? The author seemed to go nowhere with that aspect of the story except to say hope and dignity are important.


My journal entry from May 16, 2004 ends there. I know this book has legions of fans, but I'm not among them. Ten years later, I still remember the strong feelings I had about The Power of One. It seemed so promising at the beginning, and I was invested in the characters, so by the end I was not merely disappointed but felt something closer to betrayal and disgust. Fortunately, this extreme kind of reaction doesn't happen to me often.

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