I really hope that you have Nickolas Butler on your must-read list ... If you have not, then Godspeed is the perfect place to start and be entranced. Butler is first and foremost a wonderful storyteller. He has an innate sense of what information is important to a story and, more significantly, what is not. With regard to the former, he is able to explain the complex in a clear and simple fashion without dumbing down the subject matter. Given that a great deal of Godspeed concerns the building of a home from (almost) the ground up and the minutiae involving such a project, it is crucial that Butler gets it right and does so in a fashion that does not confuse or bore the reader. He hits the mark on both counts ... The conclusion contains a little bit of everything, from triumph and tragedy to pathos and redemption. As a result, it is as real as anything you are likely to read this year. Butler lays the story out and lets us draw our own conclusions. It will take a while—maybe longer—but that’s okay. It’s hard to walk away from Godspeed without being grateful for the life one has, and that in itself makes it more than worth reading.
The prose in this book is gorgeous. As a reviewer, I make notes of great sections to quote in my work. With this book, that wasn’t necessary. I can open to almost any page and find a poetic and lyrical passage that impresses ... The author does an outstanding job describing the feeling of doing methamphetamine. I’ve never used the drug, but I felt what the novel’s character felt. The author’s confidence as an artist also shows through in how he writes this passage—I was very impressed ... My dislikes were minimal. A few parts felt 'blue-collar-dismissive.' A few of the main characters were less developed than I’d have liked, and two were overly similar, but those are minor quibbles, and as much personal taste as legitimate faults ... In conclusion, three guys quickly building a house sounds like an odd setup for a crime novel, but it works. The story is fast-paced and well written. This was a good book. The prose is great. The author made me care about the characters, and I was invested in the outcome. I enjoyed this book and recommend it.
... intermittently effective but overwritten ... The key to universality in fiction is to be specific. Equally important, however, is the ability to know which items to flesh out and which are trivial. Especially in the first half, Butler dwells on unnecessary back story and minor details that halt momentum. Readers don't need to know the foods Gretchen orders for lunch, or the items in a pastry display case, or particulars about how a construction company gets paid ... Yet if one has the fortitude to keep reading, one eventually reaches nifty plot twists and fine character sketches. Butler's writing sharpens as the story turns grisly, and he excels at describing mysterious elements, such as the strange gleaming that comes from beyond the property's hot springs ... feels like a novel from a different era, with white, tough-guy protagonists driven by sex, money and power. Butler may not always know where to shine his spotlight, but he knows this much: A jog on a treadmill in pursuit of riches may produce fitness of a sort, but watch your step.