Saturday, 25 March 2017

The Ugly [Book Review]

Hello there!

Title: The Ugly
Author: Alexander Boldizar
Publisher: Brooklyn Arts Press
Published Date: 7th September 2016
Rating: 3 stars

*Thank you to the author for the review copy*


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Synopsis: Muzhduk the Ugli the Fourth is a 300-pound boulder-throwing mountain man from Siberia whose tribal homeland is stolen by an American lawyer out to build a butterfly conservatory for wealthy tourists. In order to restore his people’s land and honor, Muzhduk must travel to Harvard Law School to learn how to throw words instead of boulders. His anarchic adventures span continents, from Siberia to Cambridge to Africa, as he fights fellow students, Tuareg rebels, professors of law, dark magic, bureaucrats, heatstroke, postmodernists, and eventually time and space. A wild existential comedic romp, The Ugly tells the tale of a flawed and unlikely hero struggling against the machine that shapes the people who govern our world.

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Review: The Ugly by Alexander Boldizar is novel which I discovered through Shelf Awareness. The cover had me interested, but it had to be the synopsis which had me convinced that I wanted to read it. I feel like our capital and Westerner ways make up thinking we have the right to impose on other tribal and indigenous areas because we have our reasons. It does not matter that it doesn’t match up with theirs. As someone who strongly believes this, I wanted to read this novel and find out more about how it would be portrayed here.

And while this is the underlying predicament in the novel, we get a lot more than I bargained for! For starters, when following the issue of their tribe basically being kicked out, I really liked how the novel started off. I liked how we got to see a little bit of what the tribe was like, and what their values were. We get to see what the businessmen do when they first arrive. But I was a little disappointed by the ending. I didn’t quite understand the way in which they resolved the issue? Or if they actually had, in the long term? I felt like it was a very short term resolution, or maybe I was just not understanding something…


As Muzhduk travels to America and spends his time there, we are told about all of that as if it were in the past. The perspective also switches to the present day, where Muzhduk is in Africa for some reason. That reason is revealed to us as we read. The two different perspectives are both told from his point of view, but in America we have third person voice and in Africa first person voice. I believe the author did this so we wouldn’t become confused between the two times, and I was glad for it. I also liked the switch, and seeing how the past tied in with what Muzhduk had learned and how he acted in the present day. It also really helped in steadily understanding his reason for why he is in Africa and how he feels so determined to find who he went there to find.

Muzhduk was an interesting main character. He was very straightforward, but then also very intelligent, which intrigued me. I believe I quite grew to like him as we read more and more. When there is something in life he wants or is after, he goes and gets it. When he feels something, he will tell you. He struggles to grasp the Western ways of the world when he first gets to America, and it’s kinda adorable in a way. I also like how quickly he managed to adapt, and how shocked people were when a tribal member was intelligent. Yeah, he showed them! I believe that’s another misconception we have and his character showed that very well. Just because we don’t know about their ways, or about someone, doesn’t mean we have to assume we know more and therefore be condescending. This applies in more situations than just the one in this novel.


I should also mention that this novel is quite explicit. Not in terms of it being very descriptive, but there are sexual scenes and the author simply describes what is happening. And because Muzhduk is someone who likes sex and it is also part of some traditions in his tribe, it’s kind of mentioned quite a bit.

However, when reading this novel I felt like I couldn’t enjoy it as much as someone who was a law student might’ve, because I simply didn’t understand it. I felt like I needed to be smarter to fully grasp everything I was reading, but I wasn’t. Which doesn’t have to do so much with the book, but maybe for those who want to read it. There is quite a lot of law discussion in this book, as Muzhduk is going to America to study law. There are also quite a lot of bridges between law, society, religion, human nature and so on. It was all over my head. I felt like I was reading philosophy at times, and I could tell some of the conclusions being reached were incredibly clever, but my mind just couldn’t keep up and be able to understand how and in what way. So while I did read this one and like it, some of it just went right over my head.


There is a love interest in the novel, but the love is less expressed in the usual pursuit of her, but showing how dedicated he is to her? I wouldn’t classify this book as a romance at all. But there is some love in it, but more so a gentle, steadfast love than the characters realising they love each other and going on dates or that kind of thing.

This was a nice read. A little confusing at times, but still enjoyable.

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Gif Summary:


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Links: Goodreads and Amazon!

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New Video! My book fair book haul!


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Olivia’s Question: Have you ever felt like you weren’t smart enough for a book? Which was it?

Olivia-Savannah x

24 comments:

  1. I just read this book where a girl tried to change the restraining order against a man whom she had a relationship with because she didn't consider him to be a danger to her person (for reasons). Anyway, the point: I love when common people - for lack of a better word - takes the matter unto their hands to change the things they didn't like. She managed to overturn the judge's decision by persisting.

    So yeah, I think I will enjoy this book as well specifically because he has the truest and selfless intention. I might have a little trouble with the depth of writing, though. But I'm willing to try to understand it. :D

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    1. Its always great when the underdog manages to come through and claim what is right, especially when they know it is right and other people are trying to deny it from them. In that case, I think you will be able to really appreciate this book. I hope you enjoy it. :)

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  2. I am glad you were able to still enjoy this one even though there were parts that were confusing. Sounds like an interesting book for sure!
    ~Jess

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  3. It is hard when a book is somewhat confusing. I am glad that you enjoyed it despite the confusion. Great review!

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    1. It didn't make it too hard of a read ;)

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  4. All the time, Olivia! Science is my downfall. The last book that I really enjoyed that turned my hair white was The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey.

    Lonna @ FLYLēF

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    1. Maths is really my downfall when it comes to things like that. I am glad you could enjoy that one so much one though!

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  5. Great review, thanks for the intro to this book.

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  6. I'll admit this book's synopsis took me by surprise, it's just so very different from everything I've seen! I'm glad you enjoyed it, since it's about something you feel strongly about.

    I think there was a time when I didn't feel smart enough while reading a book, it was the first Jane Austen novel I read haha. That woman just had such an amazing vocabulary! And since English is not my first language and I was still pretty young, I had a bit of a hard time, but I've been getting better since then! :D

    Lipstick and Mocha

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    1. That's why it jumped out at me as soon as I heard about it. It was so unique! I had the same with Charles Dickens. I started to read Oliver Twist at 12 and I was so confused by the language... but I am sure we are both better now and could manage them ;)

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  7. This one sounds like it's a big educational read, especially with the law, society and about Muzhduk himself. Lovely review, I don't think this one is for me but I enjoyed reading about it.

    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence

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    1. Educational it was, and very enlightening as well. I could practically feel my mind opening!

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  8. I like the sound of how the romance is handled. Consider me intrigued!

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    1. It was unique to any romance I had before :3

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  9. That sucks about the ending. That can ruin the whole book.

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    1. Yeah :/ It wasn't too bad in this case, just a little disappointing.

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  10. Like you, I was immediately intrigued by the synopsis. That ending may keep this one off of my TBR list for now though.

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    1. Hmm... decisions to make! Take the time to think about it, and if you do read it, let me know ;)

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  11. Oooh, a Slovakian author! Another for my World Reads collection, thanks for the heads up on this book :-)

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    1. I hope you enjoy it when you read it :D

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  12. The synopsis grabbed my attention. It seems quite interesting going from Africa to America to have a legal fight.
    It's not good when the author is too high brow and confuses us.

    Thanks for the great review!

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    1. Yes, the travel shift was so different and clearly showed the similarities and differences between the cultures/countries as well.

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