Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - Jonathan Safran Foer How about, extremely pretentious and incredibly gimmicky?

I see a lot of reviewers have enjoyed this book, and certainly whether you love it or hate it will ultimately depend on your personal taste, but it was just too contrived for me. The writing style with its "creative" typographical choices and mangling of punctuation all screamed to me, "Wow, is this guy trying way too hard, or what?"

The novel weaves two stories together -- a 9-year-old boy's grief over his father's death in the 9/11 attacks, as well as the tale of his grandparents' lamentably dysfunctional relationship and their survival of the bombing of Dresden. It all begins when Oskar finds a mysterious key in his parents' closet which belonged to his father. The question is, what does it open?

Of course, an undertone of sadness pervades this book, felt especially keenly when reading about Oskar's attempts to make sense of his father's death and understand the effects that it has had on him. It should have been powerful and overwhelmingly emotional, and yet I couldn't help but get distracted and irritated by how unbelievable the story and the characters were, or how much their voices reeked of artificiality. This should have been a great story, and yet I can't help but feel that it was ruined by a self-indulgent author who got carried away with trying to be unique and clever.