The Godfather by Mario Puzo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I have seen the movie, The Godfather, about four or five times, and I STILL think this book is one of the greatest novels I've ever read. Where do I begin? First, the pacing is exceptional. Rarely does a book captivate me as much as this one did, especially when it has so many characters to follow. Unlike the movie, where we mostly only follow the Corleone family, in the book, we find out about many of the people in the innermost circle of the Godfather. This leads to a much more expansive narrative, one that shows the influence of the Godfather much better than the movie, which tells a cozier and more concise story. When the murdering and deaths occur in the book, they're much less dramatic, and much more realistic. Even when I knew they were coming, the way they're written here is so masterful that it was still quite alarming. The last book I read to dispense killing in such a grand scale way was in book 3 of the Game of Thrones series. And that book wasted a lot of time to get to its key scenes. Not so with The Godfather, which carries your attention all throughout.
I also love the structure of the chapters. It bounces back and forth in time so seamlessly that you're never lost or feel like you wasted your time reading it. Mario Puzo was a true raconteur, proving so in his many backstories that are just as relevant as the main storyline. It just shows how hand-in-hand the past plays in with the present.
Then, you have the various settings. Puzo was a man who didn't need to go into great detail describing scenery. He let the characters experience their surroundings, and you knew exactly where they were. I really do wish I read this book before I ever saw the movie. There's so much I'd love to experience for the very first time. It's no wonder the movie was such a rollicking success with such a masterful story behind it.
If you haven't already read this book, read it. Even if you've already seen the movie. It's a masterpiece.
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