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It's not often that a book tackles such a broad range of time, but Panicles manages to tell a tale spanning 40 years quickly and efficiently, easily keeping the characters consistent even as they age through the years. Indeed, with so many characters, many other books would become indecipherable, but not so with Panicles. The storylines are clear and concise, and the characters never step on each other's narrative toes, despite multiple POV jumps. I especially loved Emily and Matthew, and wish a little more time could have been spent with them.
Panicles is refreshing in its restraint. Despite recounting some life-altering moments, it never bogs itself down with treating those moments as exceptional. Instead, they all feel like the inevitable next step in each character's journey. At first, this seemed a bit jarring. Something monumental would be revealed, only to be wrapped up in just a chapter or two, often leaving me wondering what else could possibly happen to top that. The truth is, that not everything got "topped" because that's not how life works, and instead of creating something bigger for his characters, Robbins instead revels in them dealing with the consequences.
Overall, Panicles is an easy recommendation for its breezy pace and strong characters.
Panicles is a novel that follows two families, the Waxes and the Murnanes, as they weave in and out of each other's lives. The Waxes are blue collar and the Murnanes are old money, yet Matthew Wax and Emily Murnane form a lifelong friendship that carries them through death, war, and politics.
The story reads like an episode of Law and Order, and I'm not sure if the author intended it that way to translate well to a screen because that's what we get. The story is very dialogue driven; the characters are aware of their feelings and motivations and voice them and backstory to each other in every interaction, rather than presenting these in the narrative. The story is also chronologically fast-paced, in that we get a brief scene of the important events in their lives, covering 30+ years of the characters' fortunes and misfortunes.
I think the author could easily have split this book into three or more separate books, due to the wide cast of characters and the richness of their lives that we only get brief glimpses of. That said, there's a second book coming down the pipeline and hopefully it'll give us the chance to savor the characters we've gotten to know throughout book 1.
Overall, it's a good look at how what we want out of life and plan for isn't always what we get. Sometimes, what we get is better.
Richard Robbins Panicles is an extraordinary tale of two families, a story that fascinated me to the extent that I read the book twice.
One family is wealthy and successful, the other middle-class and hard working. We see one child from each meet and form a relationship that grows into adulthood through disappointments, successes, and near tragedy. Each family, in its own way, wants to serve the country, one in the armed forces, the other in politics. The travails of each produce laughter, tears, and suspense. Above all, we watch two young people who clearly belong together but who may or may not realize it, ever.
Mr. Robbins shines in his ability to handle an immense amount of material without wasting a word. He knows how to compress, when to extend, and where to omit. The surprises, jumps, and zigzags held my attention and left me wanting more.
I strongly recommend this book to anyone who wants a good read but enjoys depth, exceptionally well-developed characters, and jarring surprises. I also recognize a story that would make an excellent movie or limited TV series. Read it, savor it, enjoy it.
This dialogue-driven story graced a 40-year span with all the twists and turns that could happen between two so-dissimilar families. From family secrets to political asperations, and everything in between, you'll find yourself invested in these families and reading until the very end.
This author has a solid handle on authentic dialogue. His characters feel and sound real in a way that a lot of writers miss. Definitely helps his story, but at times it overwhelms it. Not enough to break the narrative, but while I appreciated the tight dialogue, it may not be everyone's cup of tea.
Runners get a runner's high when everything is at a peak point, and I got a reader's high with this book. I finished it in two sittings. The title and theme of Panicles is a great visual way to show how the strength of family and friendships can grow and thrive as extraordinary positive force. There is such a range of characters that are so well developed that every reader will find empathy, inspiration and humor that will draw them in. I can't wait to read Richard Robbin's next novel!
Set in the fast-paced world of politics, Richard Robbins deftly weaves two tales, of two sets of brothers, and the intricate events of their interwoven lives.
Robbins’s main characters are from two families, whose chance meeting, poolside in Florida, intertwines them for the rest of their lives. Two sets of brothers, with virtually the same upbringing and DNA determine their paths through life based on their personality-driven choices. Robbins skillfully plays the characters individualities off each other while a fast moving plot races through the often-tense interaction of the realistic characters. The book moves through time and locations rapidly, giving the reader glimpses into life in Pennsylvania and Maryland, the war in Afghanistan and the always fascinating political scene in Washington, DC.
A great read, especially in this election year, with insights into election campaigns and interesting plot twists to keep the reader guessing. I am waiting for the next book.
I enjoyed Panicles from start to finish. The characters, although drawn sparely, come alive on the page, and the story celebrates classic themes like integrity, honesty, hard work, family, and love. I also believe Panicles, with its short, intense scenes, and dialogue-heavy chapters, would fare well if reworked as a screenplay. 4 stars (not 5) because the ending felt a bit rushed, but I hope there's a sequel to answer some of my questions.
Just finished this wonderful, page turning saga, an epic story of 2 families spanning 3 generations. Well written, often surprising and grand in scale, this story kept me in suspense and wanting to hear more. Considering this is Mr. Robbin’s 2nd novel, it reads like the writing of a much more experienced novelist. Highly recommended.