Book Review: Piranesi

Okay so for anybody who has seen “behind her eyes on Netflix,” that was Piranesi for me but in reverse. Behind her eyes starts out where you think everything is normal, but ends really weird and outlandishly. Piranesi, however, starts out really weird and ends with sensibility. Both of them left me disappointed.

The basic premise is that we have a dude, Piranesi, who lives in a world with only one other living person—the Other. The Other is seeking a Great and Sacred Knowledge, and Piranesi is assisting him. The world consists of several halls of statues, an ocean, and a few other creatures (pretty much just birds and fish). That’s really all you need to know going into it.

I will say that Piranesi did have clues that, after looking back, made the foreshadowing very clear. But after reading the description, and looking at the mythical cover (I really need to stop picking books by their covers), I felt totally mislead. I don’t want to give anything away. The author was smart in not including more info in the blurb, because if you’re going to love this book you have to go in blind. Which, is very unfortunate for those destined to hate it (sorry guys!) But I will say if you’re expecting a mythology inspired or purely wondrous world, don’t get your hopes up. I found Piranesi’s descriptions of his world (and therefore the first half of the book) were extremely bland and by far the worst part of the story.

As there are only really 2 main characters, neither of which were that compelling, that wasn’t really a bright spot of the book either. Piranesi was ok. The Other was more intriguing, but also just ok. I think it’s really hard to create a deep character who doesn’t have much interaction with anything other than their environment, so I’m trying not to be too harsh. By the end, the most I felt for anybody was a slight sense of pity. 

The twist was unexpected. But also gave me a “wow I’m really stupid” moment after the reveal. On the other hand, I wasn’t surprised in a good way. It kind of felt like when you read a book about some really Super Interesting and Mysterious Thing happening, only to find out it’s time travel or aliens or something THE EXACT OPPOSITE of mysterious. 

Nonetheless, I am taking a deep breath and will refrain from caps-lock screaming for the rest of this review. I totally get why some people love it and some people hate it. Once again I feel my neutral standpoint leaves me a bit in the minority. My advice would be: if you’re at all intrigued by this book, give it a shot. You should know by the 50% mark if it’s for you or not. I wouldn’t discount it any earlier than that, though, because it takes a while for things to really get going. I finished it in one day, so it’s pretty quick if you decide to put it down half way!

Happy Reading (:

Rating: 2.5/5
Pacing: slow
Intended Audience: Adult
Content Warnings: (POSSIBLE SPOILERS) murder, kidnapping

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17 thoughts on “Book Review: Piranesi

  1. Wow, I reacted very differently to everything in this book than you did!
    I found Piranesi himself to be unbelievably precious. The Other’s condescension and manipulation of Piranesi made for a fascinating dynamic to me. The descriptions of his daily life I found charming, as he is so entranced with his own world. I loved the mystery as it unfolded.
    I’m sad you didn’t enjoy it, but I suppose that’s just life!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s so interesting how people can have such different views! A lot of it is probably my personal tastes as a reader. I need a lot to be happening, and very fast. I totally see why people who like the slow burn mystery would have enjoyed the first half more than me. Nothing was inherently bad—just not what I was expecting/looking for. And I’m very glad you liked it (:

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  2. Hi J, good to know ur thoughts on this one. I belong to the group who were shocked, but disappointed by the ending of “behind her eyes”, so I guess I won’t be picking up Piranasi anytime soon.

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  3. Thanks for posting this! I hear a lot of good things about this book but the description didn’t exactly give me butterflies and I’m glad to hear that my decision to not read it is maybe justified.

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  4. I got mixed signals from the blurbs I read of Piranesi, so I held off on adding it to my list. Thanks for warning me that the mythological elements of the cover aren’t really that strong in the story. That would have been a big disappointment for me.

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  5. I think I read Behind Her Eyes. I was loving that book right up until the dreadful ending! I’m afraid to watch the movie – because I hated the ending so very much! Great twist, but I have when evil triumphs over good. Great review, Juliana!

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