Reviews of Stepford Wives, the (1972)
Review by nzilla (2004-12-23)
This book is just so plain, not at all like one of the titular (heh) wives. The writing makes the average children's book seem like Vladimir Nabokov, not that it's particularly bad, though. With it's gigantic print and sparse page count you'd have to have the world's worst case of ADD to not get through it in one sitting, and the whole thing just feels like a slightly overgrown short story. If it were one, it wouldn't be half bad, but you kind of expect more from a novel; you feel somewhat gypped if a book you specially bought and paid for doesn't have any more depth than your average Amazing Stories fic.
None of the characters are given any chance at all to develop; after spending a third-person limited novella in a protagonist's head it's nice to be able to know more about her than "photographer, mother, a bit perfectionist, kind of liberal, feminist." The fact that I had to look up the protagonist's name minutes after finishing the book shows how forgettable the whole thing is (besides how late at night I'm writing this).
The premise is certainly interesting enough, but again it just feels like a merely OK short story. There isn't really a single plot twist; the book goes from Joanna moving to the town to Joanna having some suspicions to the "thrilling" (I felt suspense for exactly one page in the entire book, which I suppose is a bit of an upgrade from Levin's Boys From Brazil, and the writing seems to gloss over all the potentially exciting parts) climax; actually, the plot and structure is almost identical to Rosemary's Baby, except the writing and characters aren't quite as good, and the details and themes are changed around a little bit.
Certainly, the book makes its point fairly well (though perhaps it's a bit dated by now), but the whole thing just seems too rushed to be anywhere near satisfying. You'll be kept amused for an hour or so, but you'll feel some sort of emptiness when you finish. 5/10