Hummingbirds Fly Backwards by Amy Cheung | Rating: ★★☆☆☆
As a note, an e-galley of this novel was sent to me via Net Galley by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.
There was something entirely disappointing about Hummingbirds Fly Backwards--sure, there was/is solid writing, gorgeous cover art, a catchy title and opening sentence. But there is something incredibly flat about the entire story itself; constantly lacking something for me. I can't quite pinpoint all that was wrong with it because it did have a world of promise, but it just didn't work for me. I put it down often, wondering if it was just me, but looking now at its rating I see there is a general nod to how lackluster it felt in its reviews.
Although most people will disagree with me, I found one of the character's nature to be the novels biggest--perhaps, only--saving grace. Only one. She is unlikable as can be, but for this reader it was to the point where I couldn't help but to like her all the more for it. Sometimes you just can't connect with a character and their flaws, or their complete inability to connect with their reality, but you don't always have to. Chow Jeoi is an unlikable lead but that's just about the most charming thing about Hummingbirds Fly Backwards. While I didn't necessarily root for her, I did find myself feeling rather fond of her and her delusion, her flaws, and she is the only reason I gave the novel 2-stars instead of 1.
That being said, all other characters in this novel were forgettable and underdeveloped in my mind. It did have several strong female relationships going on, so that is another area in which credit is fully deserved because you don't often see women supporting each other and there are friendships in this release that actually, successfully, do so. I only wish there had been something more in it because there was so much possibilities in the story that Cheung set out to tell. Sometimes, while flipping through it, I wondered how much of the tales were simply lost in translation for me. Alas, some stories just aren't for everyone and Hummingbirds Fly Backwards is one of those to me.
This could have been so much more than it was and is one of my biggest disappointing reads this year. Not because it was awful, but because it had so much more potential and you can literally feel it when you are reading. I hate how harsh I'm sounding because it just feels wrong to be saying it--I do hope to hear more from this author in the future.
So much possibility in the air.
Aside from all its flaws and how underdeveloped characters were, how dull certain aspects were, the writing still was there and smooth. It just didn't work for this story and that was disappointing. I really wanted to like this one, I did, and I cannot stress that in spite of my feelings towards it, it is still important that readers give it a go. Please, form your own opinions of it if you give it a chance. Support the lovely author and this newly translated edition--it could be your new favorite.