Many of you know how I wrestle with putting a book down once I start. When I crack open the cover of a new-to-me title I feel as though I am in it for the long haul. To cry divorce after a mere 50 pages makes think I am fickle, that I lack the capability of a long term commitment, and so I commit myself to hearing it out. The whole story is the point and doesn’t everyone deserve to be listened to?
In my opinion, no. Not at all. Truth is the relationship should be one founded upon, at the very least, a sense of reciprocity. Usually I condone my not-so inner masochist by forcing myself to slog through whatever, telling myself that if it were published that must mean it has some redeeming quality. Then it dawned on me – my time is valuable. The books, their authors, need to show me they are worth that investment. Sorry to say but I’ve come across a great many stinkers in the last year that I wished I had the fortitude then to put down. As those hours can never be reclaimed I decided to turn over a new leaf and simply not allow that loss to occur again should I feel that’s what it would be. A loss.
When reading this awesome post recapping books left by the wayside I thought it was brilliant. So, while this is normally a book review day, I thought I would go forth and talk about a couple books I actually managed to say “no” to and why. Here goes!
Why did I want to read it? I read a review of it that stated it was a wonderful, multi-faceted science fiction tale.
What page did I get to? 70
Why did I leave it on the side of the road unfinished? At 70 pages in I quickly gauged that only half of those pages were necessary – then I realized I had 700 more to read. If, at most, 60% of those pages contain necessary and vital information to the plot then there’s no way I’m going to slog through upwards of 700 pages to get it. Every word better matter, every character and nuance vital otherwise you’re wasting a whole bunch of people’s time. There were some other issues for me that included a futuristic tale that made use of things like “iPod” (yes, the brand name) in the landscape of the story. If a story is supposed to take place in another decade or two when technology already shifts gears every few months to a year then an author should use their imagination and make up devices OR, at the very least, not use brand names. Added to this that the author made several mentions of President Bush, stated that Jenna Bush is now governor of Texas and a former First Lady, and New Orleans (thanks to Katrina) was a big heaping wasteland. Perhaps the author thought this made the work seem more intense due to the links with American culture and recent political/environmental disasters but it still suffers from the notion of “recent” while attempting to be “in the future”. Each of these issues on their own and I might very well have finished reading it, but certainly not both. **Edit: More concisely, I’m willing to read pop fiction in a shorter format, but not to the tune of more than 750 pages. For a work this long I expect somewhat timeless messages (LoTR comes to mind).
Who would like it? I honestly don’t know. The synopsis on the jacket seemed so wonderfully intiriguing: government testing/experimenting for longer life (900 years), new vampire lore, government controlled areas. So, if you like such tales and don’t mind the paradox of pop-culture references and it being a futuristic tale then I say go for it.
Why did I want to read it? My husband had recommended it to me and the movie “The Ninth Gate” was loosely based upon it.
What page did I get to? Fifty-ish.
Why did I drop it like a bad penny? First, the book was basically some guy using the medium of a novel to talk about all the ins and outs of all Dumas’ works. I know the title seems like this should have been obvious, but the truth was I was expecting something better spun not sections in Latin or verbose passages about two characters engaged in a literary pissing contest trying to assert who knew Dumas’ works best. While this was certainly not a pleasant aspect of the book it, at times, was interesting and recoverable if not for a problem with the point of view. The author attempted to do what “Wuthering Heights” did and have the story told through the eyes of one character while he recalled what another character had told him. It could have worked if not for the amount of detail the author wanted to impart: conversations directly quoted that occurred only in the experience of the character whose POV it wasn’t, lavish descriptions of rooms to which the POV character never saw, interpretations of other characters’ behavior the POV character never met. Did I mention the POV character (Balkan) and the informant (Caruso), for all intents and purposes, were professional acquaintances searching for a book? Yeah.
Who would like it? I suspect any fanboy of Dumas would.
Do you put down books? What was the last book you left unfinished?