"And isn't the whole point of things — beautiful things — that they connect you to some larger beauty? Those first images that crack your heart wide open and you spend the rest of your life chasing, or trying to recapture, in one way or another?"
Donna Tartt can certainly write gorgeously, and that is possibly what saved this novel from ending up in my two-star list. I started out sympathizing with the main character, Theo Decker, and ended up barely caring what happens to him. The title of this book's first chapter is "Boy with a Skull", an artistic symbol that represents Theo himself, a boy whose life is wrecked by a tragedy. But Theo keeps making one bad decision after another even after he grows up, continuously eroding whatever sympathy I have left for him. The tenth chapter, when Theo's already an adult, is called "The Idiot". To me that perfectly sums up what Theo has become.
I liked a few other characters in this book (Hobie, Andy). Boris appears to be aimed at being a character who, despite numerous faults, is still likeable, but he only strikes me as insincere and duplicitous, a trickster of whose motives you're never really certain. There were also several discrepancies and inconsistencies in the plot which disturbed my reading. And I wish Tartt didn't spend what feels to me like hundreds of boring pages describing what Theo drinks, smokes, swallows, and snorts, where and how he does it, the effects it gives him, et cetera — from adolescence all the way to adulthood. By the time I finished this 770+ page tome, all I could think of was: That was rather beautiful, but thank God it's over.