“This is writing. This is printing. This tells us of all the things we ought to know in the world. And also that we ought to want to know.” ~Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd (in Paulette Jiles’ novel News of the World)
Hi Ho, Dear Bloggites. This book review is on January’s Books & Broads Book Club choice. In January, the book club read News of the World by Paulette Jiles. The setting and premise of the book was interesting. The book was set in 1870 North Texas. Of course, I was immediately intrigued because that is the part of Texas where I live.
The book was about Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, an elderly man who travels through Northern Texas and stops in towns reading the latest news from papers he picks up along the way. In Wichita Falls, Captain Kidd is approached to take a young orphan, Johanna, who had been kidnapped four years earlier by Kiowa raiders after killing her parents, back to her relatives in San Antonio. The journey was a 400-mile trek through rough terrain, but Captain Kidd agreed to return Johanna to her family.
Pretty good premise, yes? Sadly, I did not like this book. Many, many times I found myself wondering what the purpose was of the author, Paulette Jiles, when she decided to write this story. Not only was it boring, but there seemed to be no core purpose in the storyline aside from traveling 400-miles. I know fiction does not have to have a purpose, but it does have to make sense and this book did not make sense to me with how it was formatted.
When it seemed like some action was going to happen, I was disappointed to see nothing happen, and the minimal moments when there was action it was underwhelming. The characters were not as developed as I like and there were moments of humor and moments of emotion, but not enough to keep me engaged as much as I could have been.
There was great imagery and some clever sentences in the book, but it did not help this book capture my attention like so many other books have. Throughout the book you followed Captain Kidd and Johanna as they travel on the road and he tries to reteach her the English language while learning what certain Kiowa words meant. I know the author really tried to engage the audience, it was almost palpable during many scenes, but she just could not take it the rest of the way through. Kudos to the author for writing a passion project, because that is the only thing that makes sense to me after reading this book.
I give News Of The World by Paulette Jiles 2 out of 5 Bookmarks. Happy Reading!