Ever since I started this blog, I’ve been really, really good about finishing books I start. For my sanity and the sake of my huge TBR stacks, though, I’ve decided that this cannot go on. From now on, the only books I’ll make a point of finishing are books that are sent to me for review.
It’s usually not the really gawdawful books that I abandon. The most frequently-abandoned books would probably be the “meh” books: they’re not bad, they’re just kinda boring. Or annoying in really petty ways.
Chuck Palahniuk’s Haunted, for example. Between the self-conscious writing style, the constant tense changes, getting shit wrong more often than making shit up convincingly and characters I really couldn’t care less about, I didn’t finish it. What I read (about 100 pages or so) I’d give a C, maybe a C-.
And yesterday, I officially abandoned Mystic and Rider by Sharon Shinn. This would be the first book of hers that I can’t finish; nothing I’ve read by her so far ranks below a B-. The premise is pretty interesting: kickass chick with mystical powers has a mandate from the king to investigate what are essentially hate crimes against other people with mystical powers. Kickass chick is travelling with two other mystics, and two King’s Riders (think special ops dudes in a fantasy setting) who are themselves very, very suspicious of mystics.
Problem number 1: The infodumping just goes on and on in the beginning of the book. In fact, there’s a character, an outsider to the land, who’s introduced just so he can ask questions and get infodumped on. Arrrrr.
Problem number 2: Nothing very interesting is happening.
Problem number 3: The characters aren’t all that compelling, which is a shame because Sharon Shinn usually writes some interesting characters, even when she descends into caricature or stereotypes (as with the Jansai in her Samaria novels).
Problem number 4: The world building is only so-so. It’s not that it’s BAD, it’s just that I feel I’ve read something similar in a million other sword-and-sorcery fantasy books.
What I’ve read so far (about 75 pages) would get a C, maybe a C+. However, I’m willing to give it another shot a little while from now, because I’ve been in a Mood in the past week or so.
I’m beginning to feel bogged down by Musashi as well. The story’s really kick-ass, but the translation is driving me nuts. The descriptive bits are pretty nice, but the dialogue… People from seventeenth-century Japan are saying shit like “Okay!” and “Got that?” and other modern Americanisms. It’s driving me batshit. I’m not expecting the translator to render the dialogue into seventeenth-century English, and I realize he’s aiming for conversation that sounds natural, relaxed and informal. But the modern speech—specifically, modern American speech—is making me hear the dialogue as bad anime dubs in my head. It’s not a good thing when Musashi starts soundling like Goku and the bad guys like Vegeta, and the crazy old lady in the book has that generic Crazy Japanese Crone dub voice in my head. You know what I mean—all shaky and high-pitched and obviously a male voice actor trying to sound like an old lady.
But I’m going to slog through this for a while yet, because The Very Tall Husband luuuuuurrrrrves this book and has threatened death and destruction to me if I don’t give it a fair chance.
So yeah. Periodically I’ll whine about the books I just can’t finish for whatever reason. Aren’t you guys just peeing yourselves in anticipation? I know I am.