Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

This book is pretty famous, so I probably don’t need to do a summary, but I’m gonna give you one anyway: This book is basically about this guy, Raskolnikov, who tries to get away with murder. But of course, it’s much more complicated than that, since this is an old Russian novel, and old Russian novels are always more complicated than that.

I actually really liked this book. I read it for school, and despite the fact that every time I sat down to read it I was extremely frustrated with how slow going it went (it’s a very dense book, and took a bit of time to read ten pages, let alone fifty a night), but the content itself was very enjoyable. And I think that that mostly has to do with the fact that I was reading it for school. If I had just picked it up for funnsies, I would have put it down after the first few pages, and even if I had gone through the entire book, I don’t think I would have enjoyed it half as much as when I had to analyze it for school. Half the fun of the book is learning its background, finding its secrets, and trying to discover all the things Dostoyevsky hid within the pages. Without that, the book isn’t as great. It just isn’t.

There is so much that can be said about this book, and I can’t list all of it here. But one of the things I really enjoyed were the characters. Not only were they extremely well written, they were all very well rounded, and we could see different parts of them at different times of the novel. The best characters were Raskolnikov, Razumikhin, Dunya, and Sonya, of course, but the supporting characters were pretty good too, though you don’t exactly find yourself liking them–because they are far from good people. They just happen to be good characters. But every character is realistic. Our main character, Raskolnikov, is extremely schismatic (his name actually comes from the Russian root that means “schism” so…), and is very far from perfect. Which I personally enjoyed. It made all his struggles seem more real, and it made it easier to appreciate him.

The other thing I love is that despite the fact that we already know what the crime is (it happens within the first 70 pages, and then there’s almost 400 pages left of the book for the punishment. Ridiculous, I know), the novel is still a mystery, but instead of finding the killer, we’re finding the motive. Which I thought was pretty cool. But I’m not going to go into that too much. I have a lot of thoughts on it, but I really don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll leave it at that.

When we first started reading this for class, my teacher told us that it was one of the books that you have to read at least once in your lifetime, and that a lot of professors will tell you that it’s one of the most important books in human history, or something along those lines. And I agree: you should read it at least once in your lifetime. Preferably in a classroom setting, since it will (hopefully) keep you reading it, and it will also get you analyzing it, which is a good majority of what makes this novel so great. But if you don’t read it in a classroom setting, do some of your own online research, or talk about it with someone. It’s one of those books that you just want to discuss with a book club or a friend (who’s also reading it, preferably). But definitely read it. It’s really dense, but its greatness outweighs its denseness.