Thursday, March 27, 2008

21: Bringing Down the House

--by Abby

I swear I really tried to start chapter-by-chapter on Love in the Time of Cholera, but opening scene is about some guy who just killed himself and it was too depressing to read on vacation. So instead we have this:

21: Bringing Down the House by Ben Mezrich
There is a movie opening Friday starring Kevin Spacey. If you are wondering if I'll finish the book in time to catch in in theaters, the answer is yes. I read 127 of the 264 pages yesterday.

Because it is a face-paced, easy-to-read, thriller? Because I have too much time on my hands? Because it is hard to put down? Yes, yes and yes.

The story is fascinating. It's the true story of 6 M.I.T. students who made millions in Vegas playing blackjack. The main character, Kevin Lewis, wanted the book written and told the story to Mezrich. He also gave him access to a lot of the people involved. The parts about Kevin are written in 3rd person, omniscient and you get the feeling that Kevin's voice is quite strong throughout. That plot line progresses chronologically, and without too much foreshadowing outside what Kevin himself was thinking at the time.

A second plot line is woven in, this one the story of the author's experiences doing interviews and gathering information for the story. It's less chronological and (obviously) all takes place long after Kevin's history. This part is written in 1st person. The Kevin bits are awesome. The Mezrich bits are kind of terrible. He seems like an egomaniac. I really can't understand why he'd think that his experiences interviewing card-counters are even close to as interesting or important as the thoughts of the counters themselves. While it is fun to get a flash-forward to the real characters and see what their post-Vegas lives are like, I really could care less about the author's nervousness at a shotting range, or his insecurity talking to Vegas heavyweights.

Despite that last little rant, the story itself is amazing, and the book is really fast-paced and the tone and use of language match the excitement of the events really well. I recommend it highly. I'll post again in like 6 hours when I finish it.

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