Book Review: Colson Whitehead // The Underground Railroad

My rating:

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Reading this book felt like a bunch of disconnected train tracks. I had no idea what was going on and who the characters were. The writing was promising and the content so important but Colson Whitehead failed to make a coherent narrative in The Underground Railroad.

The main protagonist is Cora, a young slave girl who manages to escape her plantation via an underground railroad. The reader follows her into more liberating US states where she has a chance of creating her own life.

This is genuinely all I got from the plot — it was that disjointed.

I liked Cora’s narrative and I think it would have been so much more impactful if it were in the first person. The weaving of different chapters for different characters just created chaos and detached me from all the characters.

I will say however that Whitehead, when I could make sense of the novel, never failed to make me feel sick at the traumatic events that happened to Cora. The research and time he must have put into the history aspect of the novel are incredible, it’s just a shame it was not executed well.

I picked up The Underground Railroad expecting great things after hearing reviews but I was disappointed. I don’t recommend reading this book. Other plantation novels can provide a historical basis as well as serve an intriguing plot.


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