Book Review: “Marina” by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Warning: If you have not read “Marina” by Carlos Ruiz Zafón, avoid reading this review if you want to avoid spoilers. However, if you don’t mind spoilers or already read the book, feel free to read this review!

Another book review is here, and this time it’s “Marina” by Carlos Ruiz Zafón! Here’s a summary so we know what it’s about:

“In May 1980, 15-year-old Óscar Drai suddenly vanishes from his boarding school in the old quarter of Barcelona. For seven days and nights no one knows his whereabouts…

His story begins in the heart of old Barcelona, when he meets Marina and her father German Blau, a portrait painter. Marina takes Óscar to a cemetery to watch a macabre ritual that occurs on the fourth Sunday of each month. At 10 a.m. precisely a coach pulled by black horses appears. From it descends a woman dressed in black, her face shrouded, wearing gloves, holding a single rose. She walks over to a gravestone that bears no name, only the mysterious emblem of a black butterfly with open wings.

When Óscar and Marina decide to follow her they begin a journey that will take them to the heights of a forgotten, post-war Barcelona, a world of aristocrats and actresses, inventors and tycoons; and a dark secret that lies waiting in the mysterious labyrinth beneath the city streets.”

There were definitely a few plot twists that actually surprised me. I won’t mention them here because otherwise they’ll give away major parts of the plot, but they were twists I hadn’t expected and they were well-written. I like how some of these plot twists were used to help reveal more information about the main characters as well as other characters in the book.

I liked both Óscar and Marina both as individual characters as well as their interactions with each other. Both of them share a curiosity about the events of the plot, and neither of them are afraid to search in the darkest corners of Barcelona to put the puzzle pieces of their investigation together. German, Marina’s father, though not a major part of the story, is likeable and in a way felt to me to be that second, needed father figure to Óscar (since it seems that Óscar’s actual parents were not around most of the time in the book) and I was happy to see some interactions between Óscar and German as well.

One thing I’ll pick on for this book is the vast amount of info-dumping. Granted, all of the information within these info-dumps actually do contribute to the story and the plot, but they almost got to the point of being too much to absorb in a few chapters alone. If there was a better way to summarize all the information in a shorter amount of pages, it might be helpful.

The other thing that I didn’t like was the romance developing between Marina and Óscar. It wasn’t necessarily the fact that they had horrible chemistry, I just think that chemistry would be better off if they were just friends. I didn’t see the two as being romantic with each other at all until close to the end of the book, so it threw me off. The romance felt like it was added at the end for the sake of trying to give some dramatic effect to the story, but it honestly wasn’t needed. The protagonists could just continue being friends, and I would be happy with that.

Overall, I would rate this book 4 out of 5 stars!

This rating is due to of the massive info-dumping as well as the unexpected romantic development. If you can read past the info-dumps and the friendship-suddenly-turned-romance, however, I would recommend reading it.

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