One, two, punch. This book was hypnotising for a variety of reasons. First of all, I have to acknowledge the fact that Eugenides is a very brave man. Writing a debut novel isn't an easy thing to do, let alone a debut novel that talks about the suicides of five underage girls.
This is also the first book I've read that uses a 'we' perspective. A very simple idea, but it works wonders for the book, as it points all the focus towards the Lisbon girls. The mysterious, infatuating Lisbon girls. It's a very fine line, really. I'm glad Eugenides hasn't made the girls mythical beings. Suicide should never be a statement; this would be a form of supreme decadence, and I'm glad he has ended on a critical note in this book. This isn't really a book that is to be understood. Giving the Lisbon girls an ulterior motive for their suicide would have been a dangerous thing. Give them a too convincing reason to die, and you risk inspiring people.
But what a great debut. The Lisbon girls really come to life, father Lisbon seems powerless, mother Lisbon willing but failing to make a difference. It's very peculiar how these characters, who are hardly ever allowed to speak in the book, are more alive than most characters I've encountered in other books. The few times they show their personality gives you very mixed feelings since Eugenides doesn't let your forget that in the end they must all die.
That's really all I can say; just read it.
PS; I haven't seen the movie adaptation, and frankly, I don't really plan to. I'm not here to compare, but seriously, I'm quite sure the book is better.