Good morning, all! Here I am, doing another weekly meme — gasp! — two weeks in a row! What’s happening to me…
As usual, not a clue what the actual theme is for today, so here are 10 well-loved books/series that I just don’t seem to get, and I honestly wish that was different.
Warning: MASSIVE SPOILER ALERT.
And so, we begin…
The BFG by Roald Dahl:
We watched the movie last night, and I have to say, although I certainly remember reading this as a child, I truly didn’t grasp the full scope of the magic of this world, its charm, and just how deep the messages about friendship, loneliness, and being different are. I have to wonder if it’s one of those stories that adults and children read in alternative contexts…
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh:
I know this is seen as the premiere re-telling of The Arabian Nights, which is a story I’ve always wanted to learn more about. But I just could not get into this author. Her writing style was way too frilly for my taste, with over-extravagant metaphors that really didn’t explain anything, and it meant I couldn’t get into the plot. By page 50, I was really struggling, and I gave up before page 100. Maybe it’s because I have very little frame of reference to the folklore, but the idea that one unremarkable young woman would be able to keep a bloodthirsty killer at bay by telling him interesting bedtime tales just didn’t seem believable.
Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton:
As a reader who unabashedly does judge books by their covers, on that basis alone this novel should’ve been great. Unfortunately, for me it fell very flat. The writing was fun, but not realistic. Why did the author find it necessary to set the plot in an alternate history/geography? And why did the feel of the setting randomly shift between late 19th century Arabia and 1950s Colorado? So much of how the characters acted from one chapter to another felt at odds with itself. And I know that historically Arabian culture has been very chauvinist, but reading about it described in such unapologetic detail, without ever giving the indication it was truly wrong, bothered me a lot. I think the author missed a great opportunity to take that tradition and put it to shame.
The Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff:
I did not hate this book. The series is unique, and I applaud it for that. Generally I’m not a big sci-fi person, but I don’t hold that against it, either. But I could not get into the idea of the AI falling in love with Kady ONE TINY BIT. To me, it was just waaaaay too ridiculous, and it really marred my enjoyment of everything from page 300 on.
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness:
This novel will forever be among those that are on the bestseller list that I just did not relate to. There was too much in it that didn’t make sense. Why was Conor’s grandmother so neurotic and uncaring? Why didn’t his father want Conor to come live with him? And why in the world did Conor blame himself for his mother having cancer?!?! It’s not like he controlled or caused that at all. Plus, the idea that the monster may have been real, or may have just been in Conor’s head, was really disturbing. Given everything Conor was going through, it would’ve been believable that he invented the monster as a way of coping with his mother’s illness. But the fact that the author never established one way or the other what was going on with the big gnarly tree dude was a serious downer for me.
Anything written by John Green:
The reason I feel bad about this is John Green himself seems like such a nice guy. He’s friendly to his fans; he doesn’t appear to be a stuck-up star; he worked with kids with cancer, for heavens’ sake. But his writing style…it’s SO pretentious and unrealistic that it just gags me. NO average teenager talks like this. The uncool kids are NOT invited to the cool kids’ gatherings. And giving the impression that EVERY adolescent in the country MUST be obsessed with sex, swearing, and partying is unhealthy and very, very sad. Sorry-not-sorry, dude, you really need to focus on being a better role model…
The Shadowhunters series written by Cassandra Clare:
I was so in love with City of Bones, and didn’t find City of Ashes and City of Glass that bad. But unfortunately, once we hit the 4th book in The Mortal Instruments, I got really, really tired of the way the plot dragged on and on, getting stretched thinner and thinner, and it made me stop caring about the characters. There were far too many subplots for me to keep track of anymore, and it became taxing and tedious to read all the political ramblings — Downworlders’ rights! Shadowhunters’ rights! Mundanes’ rights! It wore me out. Although I did try The Infernal Devices and The Dark Artifices, I won’t be continuing with them. And it does make me a little sad, because I honestly laughed out loud and cried with City of Bones, and could see it becoming one of my new faves.
Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald:
So, 10 out of 10 to the author for bringing up this forgotten fact of history — The Monuments Men, who spent World War II rescuing priceless treasures of art from the Nazis. But the whole rest of this novel gets a D-. The first time I read it, it seemed unusual and quirky, and was a pretty good, fast read. However, after finishing it, there was something bugging me. So a few months ago, I re-read it, and it clicked — 95% of the novel is entirely unbelievable. In post-9/11 New York City, a practically-orphaned 13-year-old with a mentally unfit mother would not be wandering Manhattan by herself. She would not be successfully sneaking into the Metropolitan Museum of Art, raising chickens, and paying the bills all on her own. Also the fact that the author gave no reason for Theo’s grandfather being so opposed to modern technology and lifestyle did not establish credibility for her situation.
Ghostly Echoes by William Ritter:
This was definitely among my top bookdragon disappointments of last year. I had loved this series (it’s Jackaby #3), and was in agony waiting for its publication. Then it arrived in my local library, and…there was something…missing. The writing style was pretty much the same, there was Jackaby’s offbeat wit, Abigail’s charming relationship with Charlie, and a mystery to solve. But…the plot almost felt — cliche? How I hate to say that about a series that I found unique! But this is indeed what happened as I read Ghostly Echoes. The grand conspiracy seemed rushed, forced, and unnecessary; the development on the secondary characters either predictable or non-existent; the big twist didn’t even hit me as, “Wow, what a twist!” The whole thing was…underwhelming. It’s made me wonder if I even want to read the last book. Sigh…
The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater:
I desperately wanted to fall in love with The Raven Boys. I like Maggie Stiefvater’s style and themes, and Shiver and The Scorpio Races are both in my top YA list. There’s really no reason I shouldn’t have been gobbling up every inch of this series. But that in itself seems to be my problem. Each book read like a 3rd draft, rather than a finished product; there was so much unnecessary information in every single part, and I honestly think this quadrilogy needed brutally serious editing. Some of the major characters weren’t engaging enough (think Noah, and even Blue), and there was soooo many secondary characters that didn’t really present their own dynamics. (I never could figure out who was who in Blue’s family beyond her mom and Neeve. What was the point of having 134 psychics crammed into the same house, anyway? And all the other boarding school boys felt faceless and not needed for the plot.) It almost became a chore to finish The Raven King and finally know what happened. It is sad, because I should’ve been looking forward to the big reveal.