Oooooh boy. Let me tell you right off the bat, thrillers generally aren't my thing. I find their premises to be too flimsy to really enjoy, and the style they're written in doesn't agree with me. Cabinet of Curiosities was no different in these regards, and I actually liked it even less than I like most thrillers--especially because it had a historical element, which is usually a plus for me and serves to get me interested. But this time...no. Gah.
So, what didn't I like about this? Well...pretty much everything. I only liked one of the myriad of characters, disliking the other twenty or so that populate the pages on a regular basis. I disliked the protagonist, Special Agent Pendergast, immensely. I hated him. He was extremely unrealistic and unrelatable and there was absolutely nothing that compelled me to like him or root for him. In fact, I would have been much happier if he had been killed of. Now that would have been a plot twist. I didn't like the fact that the authors felt like every character who appeared on the pages had to, at some point, be a point of view character. I didn't like that the main plot of the story didn't get started until more than a hundred and twenty pages into the book. That is absolutely ridiculous for a thriller, which should yank you in from the first page. I found the ties between the main plot and the historical plot flimsy at best, and the plot device that drove it all completely unbelievable--even more so than in a Dan Brown novel, which are almost at the epitome of unbelievable. I didn't like that all of the red herrings were so very obviously red herrings; not once did I believe one of the decoy leads was real, and the authors should have had me second-guessing myself at least once. And I didn't like the length of the novel in general. It could have been about a hundred and fifty pages shorter and been fine. The climax--which, in a thriller, should hit hard and fast and leave you reeling--went on for far too long for it to really remain suspenseful, and instead I just found myself wondering when it would be over so I could move on to reading something else.
What did I like? I liked O'Shaunessy as a character. I liked that the story involved a museum. That's about it.
This was a gift, and I feel bad for not liking it. But I'm also confused as to how this ended up as one of NPR's "100 Best Thrillers of All Time," because if it really is one of the 100 Best Thrillers of All Time, then the thriller genre is in worse shape than I thought...because this was terrible. At no point did I feel liked I needed to know what happened next; after every chapter, I would have been very happy going off and doing something else. There's no real "page turner" quality here, no cliffhanger chapters that made me feel like I had to know what came next. Instead, this was just bland. I'd rather read Dan Brown than this, and considering how lackluster and anticlimatic I found Inferno, that's really saying something.
2 stars out of 5.