Book Review: The Bucket List by C.J. Murphy

This book took me an eternity to read. I had to keep putting it on hold, read other books, then come back to it. The two main characters don’t even meet until after the 50% mark. And it is a LONG story. So it felt even more prolonged. I will say that once I hit about 60%, I enjoyed it and was able to get through it much more quickly.

Professor Jordan Armstrong is a professor at Cornell in Ithaca, NY. She is trying to develop something to grow plants without water. She feels the missing piece is in the mind of a former professor, Noeul Scott. She discovers a bucket list within a book Noeul had written with her deceased wife, Aggie. So Jordan decides to go on sabbatical to find Noeul (who fell off the face of the planet when her wife died). She does everything on the bucket list in hopes Noeul will be there at the end.

The first half is all about Jordan’s journey. Her sister, who just happens to have the knowledge to decipher extra ordinarily difficult clues, helps her along the way. This aspect of the story, I really didn’t like. The author went in too great of detail with the clues and how they would get around to solving them. It was all over my head and made no difference to me how they figured it out. So it felt like a lot of wasted time that dragged the story out longer than it should. 

The first half also alternated between Jordan’s bucket listing and Noeul’s hermitting up on a mountain in a practically inaccessible home. Both of them having other worldly experiences that felt a bit far fetched. I can suspend my belief for stuff like this, but full on conversations? I don’t think so. All of the communication should have been of the likes of the phone ringtone scenario that happened.

There were many flashbacks and a lot of journal entries. The flashbacks were not italicized and the journal entries were. I was confused when it would just jump into a flashback in regular text. I think it would have been better if flashbacks were italicized and journal entries were block indented.

And this book was SUPER gay. Jordan’s sister was gay. Her best friends were gay. Noeul’s best friends were gay. Every single one-off character was another woman hitting on Jordan. (view spoiler)They danced to Sophie B Hawkins, Bonnie Raitt, and Melissa Etheridge. Every morning, they slipped on their Birkenstocks. One of the characters wears a rainbow tie. Nothing against gayness! Just an overwhelming amount of stereotypical gayness that left me sighing and thinking ‘of course.’

The second half of the book is way better. It is the tale of two halves. I’d give the first half a 2 star rating and the second half a 4 start rating. Which is why I landed in the middle with a 3.

But I honestly can’t believe that many readers got beyond the first half. I only stuck it through out of sheer determination because so many others had rated it high and my stubborn curiosity got the best of me. 

Sorry, but I just can’t rightfully recommend this one. Take that for what it’s worth. Ever other reviewer liked it a lot based on the reviews.

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