Evan’s ESS = 8 out of 10
Erin’s ESS = out of 10
Content = PG-13 (Adult Content, Violence, Sexual Content, Mild Language, Feats of Strength, Epic Wedding Speeches)
Why: How do we even begin to review a book like Les Miserables? Seriously, we’d love some assistance over here. We’ll do our best to express our thoughts, but be forewarned that conflicting opinions are posturing to be heard. The fact that Jean Valjean is our new fiction role model is one matter not up for debate!
Providing any kind of comprehensive summary for this novel is far too ambitious for our tastes. Fortunately, all any prospective reader needs to know is that there’s a thief, a police inspector, an ill-treated girl, a lawyer, and all kinds of various miscreants. Against a backdrop of war and revolution the fates of said characters are intertwined to create all kinds of high drama, treachery, and feats of strength.
Les Miserables is a beautifully written, epic masterpiece that far exceeded our expectations. Admittedly, we had been dreading this read for several months so the bar was set pretty low. And at 500,000 plus words, we just wanted to survive until the end... Not only did we survive, but we were left with a new appreciation for the history of France and all kinds of weighty social questions to ponder. Les Miserables is a book of despair and second chances. Most importantly, the novel is about the many choices that ultimately define a person’s life.
In our opinion the characters were the strongest aspect of the book. There was a good bit about the battle of Waterloo that critics have swooned over, but those parts were overshadowed by the presence of Jean Valjean and Inspector Javert. Both of these characters had the ability to add instant “hold-on-because-something-big-is-about-to-happen” to the plot. Jean Valjean was fascinating and his character provided so much hope for the human spirit. The character of Javier was equally remarkable in his single-mindedness towards order and law, although not quite as likeable. Okay, his likeability hardly registered... but he was still an interesting character.
Overall, Les Miserables was beautiful and emotional throughout. The end in particular wasn’t rushed and fit nicely with the rest of the novel (this is a big deal for us). We have a new fondness for silver candlesticks and experienced one of the most epic wedding speeches of all time. Now we’re out of breath.... long live Jean Valjean!