Lack of a payoff. That’s the problem with a lot of final acts. Anyone who’s ever watched a lot of Doctor Who will know what I’m talking about: it’s when the promise of the first part is so high, and the conclusion at the end leaves you asking for more.
It starts off interesting: two narratives, points of view. One a reader, the other being read. And then a third enters the mix: a series of letters written decades ago.
The time shifts around. The place is complex. An the voices ring clear.
And then it doesn’t come together. There’s no alignment of the planets, no awe-inducing conclusion that pulls it all together. In fact, just the opposite: the pieces intentionally fail to connect too closely. And I suspect that’s exactly with Ruth Ozeki was hoping for. Something that denies final climax, and ending that’s messy. For better or worse.