Book of My Choosing - 2018 · Book Review · Crime/Thriller/Mystery/Horror · Fantasy/Paranormal/SciFi · Magical Realism

Book Review: Norma by Sofi Oksanen


Pages: 320
Genre: Magical Realism/Mystery
Publication Date:
September 23, 2015
Story Perspective: Alternating Third-Person
Themes: Secrets, Suicide, Betrayal, Identity, Family

SynopsisAnita Naakka jumps in front of a moving train and leaves behind a distraught and lonely daughter. Now, Norma has to carry on the secret of her magical hair on her own.

Unsure as to why her mother committed suicide, Norma begins to sift through Anita’s belongings. When she finds secretive video files, the young woman realizes that her mother’s obsession with Norma’s health was done more than out of love. Though seemingly unreal, her mother was involved in something so secretive, and perhaps illegal, that now Norma’s life is at risk.

my review

This was another book that I read as a buddy read with two fellow booklovers on

Though the premise is intriguing, I’m afraid the presentation was lacking in several areas. I do realize that the original language of Norma is Finnish, not English, so perhaps that contributed to its poor execution. However, I can only review this book in the English translation I read. 

Starting with the characters, I found every one of them to be flat and underdeveloped. Most had one personality trait and stuck with it until the end. There was no real growth from anyone, and to be honest, no one was really likable. For me, I need to have at least one likable character in every book I read. Too bad this wasn’t the case here.

With its plot, I really had to push myself to continue. There really was no suspense or intrigue throughout. I was able to identify which scenes I thought were meant to be action-filled, but I felt nothing. As far as the magical realism is concerned, this also was lacking. Yes, the constantly growing hair and its varying abilities is an interesting concept, but it seemed almost secondary to the plot and could’ve been so much more than what it was. Lastly, the ending! The author, throughout, seemed to have wanted to share a message rather than share a story with her audience in regards to the treatment of women. Not only was this poorly done, but the abrupt ending made absolutely no sense with what seemed to have been the author’s message.

Perhaps looking at the writing isn’t fair as this is a translated copy, however, it wasn’t to my liking. There were portions of the story where the reader is following the characters in present-day, then there were video files that spoke about the past. These videos were meant to help Norma piece together what happened to her mother. Unfortunately, a lot of it was added confusion and several one-dimensional character names bounced around.

Overall, Norma was a promising read, but failed in its execution and one that I did not enjoy.

My Rating1 stars


I would not recommend the English translation of this book.

Was this a book of my choosing or one for review?
54 out of 50 books of my choosing for 2018!

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