I just finished reading "Everything is Illuminated" by Jonathan Safran Foer.
This has been my favorite movie since high school, and I bought the book several months ago, but just now got around to reading it. However, while it still probably is my favorite movie, I'm not sure I can wholeheartedly recommend the book.
Essentially, the book is about a young man (Jonathan Safran Foer) who goes to the Ukraine to find the woman who may have saved his grandfather from the Nazis. The first half of the book is incredibly funny and the narrative grows progressively more serious as the characters are forced to confront a dark past and an uncertain future. Foer definitely raises some good questions about identity, which are intentionally, I feel, left unanswered.
I felt like the main character (Foer) was underdeveloped. The book is meant to be autobiographical, but by the end you know more about his companions than himself. I'm not sure if this was meant to be intentional as well, but there was something definitely lacking when it came to the character.
Also, one thing that makes it unique is that the story alternates between two different narratives: one the (fictional?) history of Foer's family through WWII and the other Foer's actual journey. These overlapping narratives made the structure of the book unique, but I feel like it interrupted the rhythm of the plot.
In the end, the book was engaging: diving head first into history and raw emotion. But it didn't capture me the way that the movie did and like I hoped it would. Maybe that's why I say that I can't wholly recommend it. Perhaps I was expecting to be blown away and wasn't, and that has skewed my perspective of the book.