In the crazed aftermath of a museum bombing that kills his beloved mother, 13 year old Theodore Decker steals a priceless painting. The implications of this act affects his entire young life. Like the bird in the painting is chained to its feedbox, Theo is forever chained to this painting.
I hated, hated, hated this book for the first 200 or so pages — the part that covered Theo’s childhood. It was sad and bleak and my soul ached for this poor kid, touched by tragedy and failed by the system. I was about to quit it, but I pushed through.
And then, the book became intriguing! I loved the antique furniture and art-thievery subplots, and apparently I have a much higher tolerance for bad luck happening to an adult main character than a child main character. I enjoyed watching Theo walk the fine line between underground scumminess and old-rich society. I even liked the supporting characters. Even Boris!
The first 2/7ths was a one star book to me, and the last 5/7ths was a five star book to me. I think 3.5/4 stars is a good compromise. Because even though I HAAAAATEEED the beginning of it, it was the fabulous writing that gut-punched me. And when I LOVVVED the rest of it, it was the fabulous writing that took me to swanky apartments and musty furniture stores and seedy bars.
Oh, and below is a spoiler for dog-lovers — scroll down!