Reviews

Top Five Wednesday: BOOKS I DID NOT FINISH

I recently stumbled on this GoodReads group that proposes a weekly meme whose aim is to give a list of Top Five… anything, as long as they are book related. It sounds fun, and something I can manage even with my too-often-limited time.

This week’s topic is: Books I Did Not Finish

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Perdido Street Station by China Mieville: I tried for three times to read this book, because it pictured a fascinating background and an interesting combination of science fiction and horror elements. What’s more, it was written in a rich and vivid language, but each time I had to give up, mostly because of the unrelieved darkness of this world, one that is permeated by a sense of unstoppable decay I ultimately found off-putting. Many times I felt that the grossest details were there just for their shock value, and not so much for descriptive purposes, which ultimately proved to be my undoing.

Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan: What started as an interesting fantasy series, turned out to be (in the not-so-very-long run) a massively wordy journey where descriptions abounded but the story progressed at a snail’s pace – at least as far as my tastes are concerned. I will not go into the similarities with other genre books – although there are quite a few – since for me the endless repetitions of personal traits (like that infamous braid chewing!) were more than enough to drive me crazy and to drive me away in the end.

Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon: here is another case of word bloat, compounded by some narrative choices that had the same effect on me as the proverbial fingernails over a blackboard. For example, how about a modern woman who, finding herself some two centuries in her past, accepts the fact that her man beats her into obedience? And proceeds to make-up sex afterwards without the slightest qualm? O the use of sex and violence (either alone or in combination) as plot devices? Moreover, the protagonist trespasses so often into Mary Sue territory as to become caricature rather than character.

MaddAddam series by Margaret Atwood: much as I enjoyed the first two books in this series, I could not make myself take any interest in the third and final one. It felt as work, rather than reading pleasure; the writing did not even seem the product of Margaret Atwood’s excellent penmanship; the characters act in a way that made me wonder is some second-hand stand-ins had taken their place.  I’ve heard from good, reliable sources that the end of the book is satisfactory and that it closes the series neatly, but I still have to find the strength – and the willingness – to go on.

Wool Omnibus by Hugh Howey: another case of a widely acclaimed book that fell totally flat for me. It does start with an interesting premise but it suffers from too much telling and very little or no showing, the pace feels glacially slow and the characters lack proper development.  I know that if a book fails to capture my interest in the first 30 pages, it has no chance at all, and this one did not manage to hold my attention.

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14 thoughts on “Top Five Wednesday: BOOKS I DID NOT FINISH

    1. I have to admit that part of my annoyance with the book(s) comes from that infamous rant against fanfiction from Ms. Gabaldon: she thundered against it, while she’s really employing many plot devices that are typical of not-so-good fanfiction. Something does not add up here, IMHO… 🙂

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  1. I read Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander #2) at the beginning of this book and I am done with this series. I had to force myself to finish it and I didn’t enjoy the story at all.
    I am very intrigued by Perdido Street Station, I only read This Census-Taker by Miéville and I really liked it so I would like to give a try to his other works.

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    1. Mieville is the kind of writer that can divide readers into two factions: those who enjoy his works and those who are unable to “get” them. It’s clear i fall into the second category…
      If you read “Perdido” I’d like to know what you think about it!

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  2. Nice list – I’m guilty of reading Outlander and Wool. I didn’t complete either series as I seemed to run out of steam but I admit I’m guilty of enjoying both first books in series! Haha, what can I say.
    Lynn 😀

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    1. A friend read them all and enjoyed them very much, so there’s no reason to feel guilty about it. Sometimes I apply to books a very handy quote from Farscape: “it’s not your fault, it’s mine. Because I don’t like you” 😀 😀

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  3. Many years ago I got to the middle of Stranger in a Strange Land and found I had no desire, or reason, to finish it. The text stopped pulling me through. Others have had this experience.

    I stopped reading Michael Connelly’s The Scarecrow about 140 pp into the paperback version because the switch between 1st-person and 3rd-person narration irritated the hell out of me. I started this volume several times and never made it very far.

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    1. Usually, when a book fails to… entrap me within the first 50 pages, I know it will be a difficult relationship, and one that’s fated to end before its time. Reading should be a joy, and I believe that wading through quicksand is no joy at all, so…. 😉

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  4. I’m not in the habit of DNFing books, but if I were I might have thrown in the towel for Outlander as well – BLOAT is correct! I ended up liking the book, but man, I could not believe everything I had to slog through to get to the good parts at end. And for the Wheel of Time series, I just don’t think I can go on either. Especially since I hear from so many people that a bunch of the middle books are just filler.

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    1. I managed to get through book 3 of the WoT before giving in out of total despair. What’s sad is that I’ve been wary of approaching Brandon Sanderson’s writing *because* of his connection with Jordan’s work. Which is absolutely silly, I know, but still…

      ((insert sheepish face)) 🙂

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