This was one of those books that I’m glad I read but I don’t want to read again – too heavy. Kingsolver does a great job shedding light on the struggles of poverty in general and rural poverty more specifically; she left me mourning for those who suffer the way Demon does and wishing that I could do more to help them.
Demon Copperhead is heavily inspired by Dickens’s David Copperfield, which I recently read, and it was interesting to compare the two books. Kingsolver mirrors most of Dickens’s high-level plot, so I initially expected the stories to feel the same. However, Demon’s journey is more tragic; his life slips steadily downward until nearly the end of the book, whereas David’s has a generally upward trajectory for the entire second half of his story.
The characters in Demon Copperhead are also not as similar to those of David Copperfield as their practically identical names might suggest. Aside from the intentionally nasty ones, most of Dickens’s characters are humorous, endearing, and unwavering in their care for David. Demon has far fewer characters that seem to be wholly on his side; I was particularly disappointed by the differing roles of the McCobbs and Betsy Woodall compared to the Micawbers and Betsy Trotwood.
Maybe Kingsolver’s book is more realistic or more direct about the social issues it highlights, or maybe I just didn’t pick up on the nineteenth-century issues in Dickens’s novel as well as the modern problems in Demon Copperhead. Either way, this book was harder to read than its predecessor. Still good, and definitely more thought-provoking, but also much heavier.