A good book is like a good relationship. When you’re in one, you know it.
Bad books are like bad relationships. When you’re in one, you might not realize it at all until it’s over. Or you might realize it while you’re in the middle of it, and try and push through to the end, because maybe it’ll get better. Maybe the ending will make up for all the bad you had to put up with. And sometimes, like relationships, you realize in the beginning, middle, or end, that a book just isn’t for you and you decide to stop and move on to something more eye-catching. A book that really captures your affection and won’t let it go.
As you may have noticed from my sometimes-sporadic posts, I have good book-relationship streaks, and bad book-relationship streaks. Right now, I seem to be in a good one. I’ve just finished reading Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (verdict: LOVED IT!), and finally worked my way through Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen (which I liked, but didn’t LOVE), and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (which I ALSO LOVED!). But before I continue to binge-read myself through some more books, I wanted to take some time to acknowledge some of the most recent failed relationships I’ve had with my books. All of the ones that just weren’t The One. And also discuss why, perhaps, it just didn’t work out.
Of Poseidon (The Syrena Legacy #1) by Anna Banks
Published in 2012 by Square Fish
Even before buying this I was unsure whether I would enjoy a book about mer-people, but something kept drawing me to the book, so I pulled up my socks and purchased a copy from a local B&N. The first chapter or two I found enchanting. The book starts off with a shocking and brutal shark attack that I didn’t see coming (sorry for spoilers), but the book quickly digresses from there.
What turned me off most about the book wasn’t the mermaid premise, but the casual sexism of every single interaction between the main characters. Mermaids don’t get to choose their mate? They have it chosen for them by men? Ugh. Girls hating girls and girls fighting girls for no reason? Double ugh. Completely helpless female “hero” who can’t help but fall for the perfect-male-speciman mer-dude Galen? TRIPLE UGH.
I had to stop reading, because every single thing that was said or done enraged me beyond belief. I wanted to throw the book against a wall, tear its pages out, and cry out in feminist agony. And the plot stopped making sense– even in the context of the book. Emma’s mom is overprotective, but lets her go hang out at her brand-new boyfriend’s house all day and skip school all the time? What? I’m sorry, I don’t get it.
Maybe the book gets better at the end. I’ll probably never know. I just want to punch too many things to finish reading it.
Where I stopped: page 153 of 324.
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
Published in 2001 by Picador
I’d heard so many things about this before I started, most of them from a class called The Contemporary Novel which I took during my sophomore year at Juniata College. That was one of my favorite classes ever, and I hold all books recommended to me at that time with the highest esteem. I’ll be honest though, this book just isn’t my cup o’ tea. That isn’t to say it’s bad. It’s, of course, very good in a literary sense. But it isn’t what I normally read and I just found that, at the time, I wasn’t enjoying myself very much.
I think the story itself is very interesting, but I found some aspects of the first few chapters very odd. The thing with Chabon is that I’m sure it’ll all make complete sense later in the book. One day I will find my way back to this book, and will probably love it. It took me a year of putting Catch-22 on hiatus before I could eventually pick it up and finish it. And now that’s one of my all-time favorite books.
Where I stopped: page 69 of 636.
This book was such a let down from the ending of the first. Talk about anti-climactic. They’ve just saved the world, and now they’re going to be stupid and hide out at one of the other communities. While reading the first book, you can’t help but be aware of the glaring flaws in the caste system the people of Divergent!Chicago have rigged up in the distant(?) future. But the plot moves along snappily and I was able to successfully suspend my disbelief. The second book, instead of taking full advantage of that, decides to backtrack, and drag us through a virtual tour of Divergentville, all whilst saying “look at these people! isn’t the way they live their lives so weird?!” It’s hard to continue believing that the world Roth has built would have been even mildly sustainable for a few years. Everyone is prejudiced and not-very-understanding of the other. It just doesn’t make any sense. And that is why I stopped reading some time after chapter 3 or 4 or 5. I can’t remember and I have since returned the book to its owner so that’s as close as I can get. I’m not sure if I’ll revisit this one. To be honest, I think the fate of my interest in this series rests in the hands of the movie. If it’s any good, I’ll inevitably be forced to read the second and third books, if it sucks, well, that’s another YA dystopian series I’ve just saved myself from reading.
I’d be interesting in hearing what books you just couldn’t make it through and why. Why did you stop? And do you think you could ever persevere through to the end?