Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Book Rage Quit: The Top Ten Books I Just Couldn't Finish

     If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that life is too short to waste on a book you don’t like.

     Unless it’s your textbook. You really need to read that. If you don’t, I don’t wanna hear any whining about the professor being mean and failing you for not actually knowing anything about the class you voluntarily signed up for.

     Ahem. Moving on.

     Sometimes, I find a book, and I realize I don’t like it. I then have two choices. I can force myself through it, or I can move on to the next Game of Thrones book, because SERIOUSLY GEORGE R.R. MARTIN STOP FEEDING OFF OF MY TEARS.

     Some of these I’ve already talked about, but I’m going to talk about again, because why not? It’s either this or I rattle on about Doctor Who some more.

Look, I'm not saying the Doctor is a censored Malcolm Tucker, but the Doctor is a censored Malcolm Tucker.

     So without further ado, the top ten books I just could not finish, from "I really don't know why" to "THIS IS HORRIBLE MAKE IT END".

10.) The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse

        This is an odd one. I don’t know why I couldn’t finish. It seemed like precisely the kind of thing I would like, yet…

         It could be utter confusion at the sheer amount of 20’s slang. I feel like a part of me liked it, but maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for it. Sometimes my reading gets on a theme and I can’t get away from it. I think it also didn’t help that, while comically so, many of the characters were rather unlikeable, Jeeves and Bertie aside. But that’s the whole point, isn’t it? Maybe I’ll try it again when I’m looking for something nonsensical to read, and it will strike me differently.

9.) The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

      Oddly enough, I started out liking this book, surprising as it was. I will give Rand this-she was a good writer. But oh dear Lord, she made the same mistake you see made by so many Christian authors, ironically enough…

      She started preaching. And preaching. And preaching. AND PREACHING. The main story was kind of intriguing. It’s the beginning of a new age, and one man decides to go his own way and follow his own artistic impulses rather than design only what is considered most popular. A hipster, basically. Roark is a hipster. He can’t help it, that scarf just looked so nice at Goodwill. But then Rand had to start hammering on her point about how altruism will be the death of us all.

      This in and of itself wouldn’t have bothered me. Disliking a book solely because it has a different viewpoint from you is ridiculous. Sometimes it’s good to be forced to think things through.

      But the “altruists” Rand used were not, well, altruists. They were all using it as a means to their own selfish ends, and hurting people in the process. They weren’t being depicted as hypocrites; Rand was utterly serious about this. Which means Rand’s philosophy collapses in on itself less than a quarter of the way into her grand and amazing manifesto. It is dead, yet it walks still, single-minded and unstoppable.

      A quarter of the book was all I got through before I had enough of her harping. What might have been a fairly interesting novel was destroyed because someone had never heard the phrase “show don’t tell”.

8.) The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths

      This actually sounded like it would be an amazing mystery. A murder in an old bog once used as the site of ritual sacrifice by Druids? Count me in! And some parts of the book really lived up to the eerie atmosphere set up here.

      However, the first problem was the tense used. The author spoke entirely in present tense, unless the narrator was describing something that had happened previously. Ironically, this took me out of the story. It felt strange and clunky. I think there’s a part of all us that prefers stories to really be like stories-like you have the storyteller in front of you, telling you this. Present tense ruins that idea. I’ve seen it used to somewhat good effect elsewhere, but it stills throws me for a loop.

      The second problem is how much time is spent on the protagonist’s personal problems. Her parents nag her about going to church; she frets about her friend having an affair with no compunction, then turns around and has an affair with little provocation save that “he just doesn’t seem that into his wife” (though he has no chemistry with the protagonist; actually he had more chemistry with the crazy hippie professor than anyone, so there’s that). It’s set up as a Very Important Aesop but seems inserted into the story for extra drama. And also she complains about her weight. Yes, we have the Overweight Detective, and we must hear about her being Overweight. A lot.

      I finally got fed up and skipped to the end. The end would have been a good pay off if the rest of it hadn’t been so horrible.

7.) The Ritual by Adam Nevill

      Oh, this book. I loved this book so much. It scared me half to death. It kept me awake at night. It made me fear the old forests bathed in darkness.

      Then the protagonist passed out and found himself in a Crazy Teenage Cultist movie. It was terrible.

      Unfortunately, Nevill had two different book ideas, and tried to squish them together. It didn’t work. I mentioned this in my review, but the tension was cut, and there was no regaining it. If you want to read it, just read to the end of the first part. It’s a nice cliffhanger.

6.) Embers at Galdrilene by A.D Trosper

      This actually looked like it would be an amazing book. It started out, as so many do, as an amazing book. A great war in which all but a remnant of dragons and their magic riders survive, hiding out and waiting for the day they can find more. A world in which magic is outlawed, and those who can use it must submit themselves to execution.

      Then we started jumping viewpoints so fast it made your head spin. At first, it was every chapter, which is great, that’s fine. George R.R. “YOUR MISERY IS MY JOY” Martin does this, and he too keeps piling on more viewpoint characters, and it works. But this did not work.

      For one, it was difficult to tell the characters apart. They were so bland that skipping viewpoints didn’t help; it still sounded like the same person. For another, Trosper started changing viewpoints every couple paragraphs, often ending one with “it seemed like X was unhappy”, and beginning the next with “X was unhappy”. The whole effect was very clunky. Also, the author tried to make two characters dislike each other, but it didn’t seem like they did; it seemed like they were forced into spouting lines that didn’t sound like them.

      And last, but not least, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD HIRE AN EDITOR. PLEASE. NOT THE EDITOR YOU HAVE. ANOTHER ONE. There were so many comma splices it hurt. It wasn’t just in dialogue where they would make sense; no, comma splices were put in to indicate a pause in the text. THAT’S WHAT A PERIOD IS FOR YOU SOD.

5.) Size 12 Is Not Fat by Meg Cabot

      You know what I was saying about the Overweight Detective? They are a detective whose identity is almost entirely consumed by being Overweight. Our Heather Wells here, though, she isn’t overweight. She has simply gained so much weight she is literally unrecognizable to all but her closest friends, and her only exercise is walking to the local bakery or to buy more clothes from those MEAN MEAN JUDGMENTAL SALESGIRLS.

      Like I said in my review, the Dean’s drunken wife was the most interesting character in the few chapters I read. I want a detective novel about the Dean’s drunken wife solving a mystery while struggling against her latest hangover.

4.) How Miss Rutherford Got Her Groove Back by Sophie Barnes

      Remember that kid years ago you swore you’d marry? Yeah, he’s marrying someone else now. Clearly he should have remembered what you said before when you were like fourteen! What a jerk! GO MAKE A HUGE SCENE IN FRONT OF EVERYONE, AND THEN YOUR FAMILY’S OLDER FRIEND WILL COME AND GROPE YOUR BREASTS TO MAKE IT ALL BETTER.

      Hahahahahahahaha authors like to replace actual relationship building with sex and it’s terrible.

3.) Forest of Shadows by Hunter Shea

      A man who is into supernatural phenomenon has a wonderful relationship with his wife, which means they must have very detailed sex, but then they fight and she dies and something scary is supposed to happen but I’m not even going to try to find out when. Also

      Hahahahahahahaha authors like to replace actual relationship building with sex and it’s terrible.

2.) The Gormenghast Series by Mervyn Peake

      Supposedly the series as a whole is about Titus Groan, lord of Gormenghast, coming into his own and doing heroic things and stuff, but I got a few chapters in when I realized Peake was mainly describing how everyone was crazy, everyone, that guy’s crazy, this guy’s crazy, that guy’s really crazy, I mean, crazier than a GoT character crazy, and you know how crazy they are, did you hear about the bowl of tears Martin drinks every morning that grants him immortality? I did.

      I got really really bored and barely got past Titus’ birth before I gave up.

1.) The Ruins by Scott Smith

      A group of friends decided to go for a walk through the rainforest at Yucatan. However, before we even get to the walk, we get stream-of-consciousness rambling about the Characters’ Neuroses. They have Many Neuroses, and we must talk about them in Great Detail. LOOK AT THEM. THEY ARE NEUROTIC. LOOK AT ALL THESE NEUROSES.

      There are no paragraphs. There are no chapters. There are no likable characters.

      I skipped to the end, and was glad I didn’t read it, because a plant imitating a cell phone sound is really, really stupid. At least Audrey II had style.

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