I had requested a copy of The Man on the Middle Floor from NetGalley based solely on its cover. And I read it a long time after I got it. So long that I only hoped that it justified my faith in the unknown. But the problem with this book is – no, actually, it isn’t just one thing. There are too many to finish up in just a single sentence or even a paragraph. So this time, I will deviate from my usual form of review-writing and put down in points what I liked and didn’t like about it.
But before that: The Man on the Middle Floor is the story of Nicholas Peters or Nick, an autistic 24-year-old who is living on his own. He needs routine, because of his condition. And any variation agitates him. This leads him to a commit a number of crimes, though they don’t seem wrong to him in his condition. He is merely looking for peace of mind.
Karen Watson is a scientific researcher working in a hospital and doing case studies on autism, to the point of ignoring her children who live with her ex-husband. She is writing a paper and when she sees that Nick is autistic makes him her pet project. Tam is a cop who has just resigned from his post but he wants to do something for society.
These three people live in the same building and when their lives cross, whether the world topples over or rights itself is left to be seen.
What I Didn’t Like:
Oh, there is just too much that I didn’t like. Yes, for a minute in the end, I felt I was being too harsh and maybe things were like this somewhere in the world. But that doesn’t take away from how I felt as I read the story.
- The book starts off in a confusing manner. Plus all I was hoping for is an explanation for how badly The Man on the Middle Floor started off. Nothing registered in my head because there really wasn’t a way to find out who the good guy was and who the bad guy was. This is uniform across the first half of the book, though it is clear in the end. Obviously.
- Ideas and timelines are all over the place. I needed saving more than once or twice or thrice.
- One of the main characters is autistic but that does not mean you repeat their dialogues either. Coupled with the very confused writing, this one grated on my nerves like no other.
- At one point, I couldn’t even decide if I liked this book. To top it off, there are some explicit scenes that are really not necessary for the storyline.
- While hating a character really reflects on the author’s success, Karen really pissed me off. An absolute hypocrite and a bad mother, in general a selfish person, the moment she entered the scene, I would want to rip her head off. She wants to help the world but has no idea how to help her own family. This somehow made me angry towards the story, mostly because of how I didn’t like how it started.
- Did I say the narrative was repetitive? It kept harping on things over and over again, and it annoyed me to a degree that I was either in a mood to chuck the book across the room or get it over with as soon as possible.
- Finally, when you question yourself as to why you’re still reading this book, you should know that it’s a bad one and you should be running away from the train-wreck as fast as possible.
What I Did Like:
Despite how The Man on the Middle Floor made me feel all shades of angry red, there were a couple of points that I did like. Here they are:
- The book raises a valid point about divorced mothers. Of course, Karen sort of nullifies it all by the end, but it’s true, the point the author makes. If a man was divorced, he wouldn’t be expected to give up his career and help. But a woman is expected to put everything else down, including her career, and take care of the kids.
- It talks about a topic as sensitive as autism and shows how the extremes of the disease can really get, both for the person suffering from it and for the people around them.
Its two positive points, however, do nothing to nullify its negatives. Unfortunately, despite the sensitiveness of the topic, the story did nothing to touch my heart. And that’s a shame, because I was expecting so much from The Man on the Middle Floor. But this is just my opinion, of course. It just might work for you if you’re prepared to sit through the initial few pages.
Rating: 2/5 stars
Jodi Picoult’s House Rules, that talks about Asperger’s Syndrome, was a better novel, in my opinion.
Picture Courtesy: Goodreads.
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