Saturday, March 8, 2014

Review: Kinder Than Solitude by Yiyun Li

Kinder Than Solitude by Yiyun Li is the enthralling story of three friends who's lives are forever bound by the history they have tried to run from since youth. The news of the death of Shaoai, which is possibly caused by one of the three, jump starts the novel. After more than 20 years in a coma, the one tie holding these three together, is finally severed. 

The premise of a mystery is what attracted my attention to this novel initially, by Li's writing kept me engrossed and in need of savoring every word written. Each character in their own way, has chosen a life of solitude as opposed to a true existence filled with love, laughter, and humanity. Boyang, has risen from meager beginnings to become a man who is more wealthy than ever imagined. Moran, once a courteous teen, morphs into a chemist who finds solace in her small apartment and the occasional visits with her dying ex-husband. Finally, the most interesting yet mysterious of the three, Ruyu, lives as the odd-job queen. 

Kinder Than Solitude is more than just a mystery of whodunnit but rather a delving into what it means to be human; to seek lasting connections and have a meaningful life full of people who matter. Instead, these characters have chosen a life of being untangled. After failed marriages,passing flings, or basic emotionless disregard, the one thing that they do remain tethered to is the death of Shaoai.

Yiyun Li provides a vivid character study of three people that are unlike any character I've come across to date in the multitude of texts I've read. Who stand out the most for me is Ruyu. She's sent to live with Shaoai's family at the age of 15. Shaoai constantly berates her for her lack of emotion or caring. Ruyu is an enigma the entire novel and never once deviates from that trait. She's logical to a fault and this makes her prime suspect number one. She seems not to care about anyone but not in the cunning way. It's more so that she's even tempered and this baffles all who come across her.

Essentially, Kinder Than Solitude is a well-written expose of human nature and the beauty of solitude. I enjoyed this novel tremendously and look forward to what's next from this author. ****

Copy provided by Random House via Netgalley

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