Vita Nostra Q3: Sasha and Kostya (etc)


Sasha is the main figure in the story, but Kostya accompanies her on the journey. Did you think these characters were well-drawn and believable? Did they act in mostly appropriate ways?

Sasha changed in many ways. She started off homesick but eventually became desperate to return to the Institute. She became powerful. She learnt that her powers exceeded her control. She learnt to ask for and accept help. She learnt to help others (Kostya) and when she couldn't (Yegor).  She learnt to accept instruction, and later to forge her own path. Kostya goes through his own journey, including love and marriage.

How do their two journeys relate? And why were they not allowed to consummate their romance?

What about the other characters in the book? Were they believable, acting in appropriate ways?


  • 1

    I liked the characters and found them convincing. I thought the reason they didn't become something was because their inherent natures were not compatible in that way, and the profs recognized this long before the students did.

    There were some things I never understood about this book, and so they seemed a bit silly or ad hoc to me (like the puking of gold coins). I think it's likely these things were metaphorical, and I just never made the connection. Perhaps this all makes more sense in the original language. But I have to say I found the characters to be quite convincing all round.

  • 1

    Although I am not impressed with the premises of the book, I too thought the characters were well drawn. It took a while to get going, but once they got to school it settled down for me, and I could see the students and teachers very well. Everything seemed believable in the context, and the context was developed without creating too many non-sequiturs. Good writing there. Farit was a bit of a cypher - does he know much or not? Does he do things or not? Never really got that.

  • 0

    Given the book's premise, I agree that the characters were credible and well described. Agreed with @Apocryphal that the whole gold coin thing was a mystery - presumably it was metaphorically saying that successful completion of one task "pays the way" to the next one - kind of like going up a level in old-style games - but I am fairly sure that there might have been better ways to depict this. I do wonder how far this accurately translates the original - there are a couple of comments at the end about how the translation adapted some concepts to make more sense to a US / Western audience - ie it could well be more like what I am used to calling a dynamic rather than faithful translation.

    I found the non-getting-together of Sasha and Kostya to be a definite plus - there are some people that become and remain close friends without ever becoming long-term sexual partners, and it was quite refreshing to see this being played out in the book. Likewise the inclination of many around them not to believe that this could be the case, and so assuming that they were in fact lovers.

Sign In or Register to comment.