The movie was better than the book.
I have read books that are similar to Everything is Illuminated, but have done it better. He hints at magical realism, yet never, ever truly gets there, when he could have crafted some wonder tales of mysticism and superstition.
The Tiger's Wife by Téa Obrecht is a better execution. If you really liked Everything is Illuminated, then most likely you will really enjoy that one as well.
I suppose the books gets tiresome after awhile. The beginning is charming. I liked the narrative of Alex and his family troubles. They are the best part of the book even though they are given secondary focus.
I am wondering why there are only two relatives of Foer focused on in the book. What about the others that happened in between? Was it simply convenient to skip forward in time, and then barely mention the Holocaust and WWII? There is an intense focus on Trachimbrod. It's only when Brod is alive that we get to experience most of it. The rest is rather negligible and swept aside.
How do the relations connect to Foer and his current life and personality? I wanted for the journey to be transformative for Foer, but this was only so for Alex, who is truly the main character.
I thought the book could have been longer, denser, with more energy. It all seemed edited down, with a huge chunk missing. Towards the ending there was more creativity with the occasional play-like style of character speaking and writing excerpts from the Trachimbrod denizens.