The Books I’m Not Reading

There are books I’ve read.  There are books I’m reading.  There are books I have yet to read.

And then there are the books I’ve begun but never finished.  They stare at me accusingly from where they lie next to the ever-growing pile of completed books, never moving, just collecting dust.  I’ve renewed them as many times as possible, but soon the librarians will hunt me down with squeaky book carts and date-due slips.  What, exactly, am I not reading?  And why?  Let’s begin.

Larklight, by Philip Reeve

Larklight is a middle grade steampunk, written in a very old style that I don’t much like.  I have seen Reeve’s books in other places, and none of them have appealed to me.  I have read one review that said his books were horrible, but beyond that, I didn’t know.  So I decided to give it a shot.

No.  Suspense: no.  Characters: no.  World: no.  Style: no.  It’s nothing.  It’s almost painful.  Dumas, Tolstoy, and Hugo write in slightly archaic styles that are still readable– that’s why they’re classics.  Reeve writes present day stories using strange words when needed to make things sound dusty.  The summary is a perfect example: “A Rousing Tale of Dauntless Pluck in the Far Reaches of Space.”  Dauntless pluck?  No thanks.

Days of Blood and Starlight, by Laini Taylor

Days of Blood and Starlight is the sequel to Daughter of Smoke and Bone.  (Which is also by Laini Taylor, if you were wondering.  I don’t know why you would, but for clarity’s sake.)  I struggled through the first one and came to a dead stop on the second.  Why?  I don’t enjoy it.  The characters are good, the writing is excellent, but the story…  I’ll sum it up.  Strange girl works for strange person and suddenly realizes she is actually an even stranger girl who was once in love with another strange person.  The story consists of two characters telling completely different stories, but since they sort of recognize each other in two chance encounters, there should be something connecting them.  There isn’t, which provides tension until the end, at which point a plot twist explodes and showers revelations upon everyone.  It’s barely even a love story.  This would truthfully be classified as paranormal romance.  There’s an undercurrent of fantastical mystery, but it’s nothing more than an undercurrent.  I don’t enjoy it.

Finnikin of the Rock, by Melina Marchetta

This book has been recommended by several sources.  It looks promising– nice and thick and fantasy.  Unfortunately, I hate the main character.  I hate the love interest who never actually developed into a love interest except through unclear hints.  I hate the side characters.  I hate the portrayal of all the characters.  I dislike the morals, the dialogue, everything.  It could have been done well… but it isn’t.  I can’t get through it.

Dune, by Frank Herbert

Supposedly the greatest science fiction novel ever.  Is it?  I don’t know.  I haven’t gotten past the first five chapters.  It isn’t like the first few books, which I disliked characters and style and such– with Dune, it’s simply the size.  I don’t have time for such an enormous book.

Those four books are the bane of my existence.  I will probably finish each of them, but will I go back for more?  No.  Except perhaps Dune.


36 thoughts on “The Books I’m Not Reading

  1. A lot of things seem to be the bane of your existence. Or was that some other people?

    And…so these are book reviews, of sorts? Basically, “Liam-was-out-of-post-ideas-so-he-decided-to-make-sure-no-one-would-ever-read-these-books”?

  2. I’ve heard of Dune, but none of the others….

    Honestly, the cover of the second one would scare me away. I know, never judge a book by it’s cover, but books with covers like that aren’t generally my style….

      1. Are you just not interested in it enough to read something that long right now? You’ve read War and Peace 4 times and Les-Mis. Length shouldn’t be the entire problem.

        Speaking of The Brick, have you read anything else by VIctor Hugo?

      2. Only twice on War and Peace. But yes, I don’t have the time right now. Both of those counted as assigned reading and part of school. Though the school year is coming to an end, I can’t pass Dune off as a classic just yet.


      3. I thought I read where you said 4 times. Some comment conversation of bygone days. Between you and Charley, I think. But I’m not argueing. I’m just saying why I said 4.

  3. Oh gosh, owwww. I looove Finnikin of the Rock. Thank goodness there are billions of authors out there who write billions of different kinds of books so all readers can be (semi) satisfied. The only book I’ve ever thrown was Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin, because I realized I was plotting to write a mean review and that was the only reason I wanted to finish. Decided that was mean. 😉 So I stopped.

  4. Honestly, I hate to admit when I don’t like a book. There have been a few books that I haven’t finished just because I didn’t like them. For the Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyworld, I finished it despite the fact that I Didn’t really like how it was going. I didn’t like it anymore than I did before when I had finished it. In my opinion you should just read what you want to read- it’s recreation anyway right?

      1. Liam, you could probably take credit for that quote. If not, I will.
        Just think of every author in the world. Now imagine all of their first drafts. Yeah, I agree with whoever you quoted.

  5. Dune is long? It’s been a couple of months since I read it, but I didn’t feel it was so long. Now that I check the page count in my edition, it was 535 pages, though quite a few at the end are appendices. I read it pretty quickly. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much, because it was written at a time when science fiction tended to be campy, corny, and just not very sciency (I know, that’s not a word). But I was surprised and enjoyed it immensely. But yeah, it’s not your typical sci-fi book.

    I have yet to not finish a book. I’ve read difficult books, but not bad enough that I stop. I wonder what the first one will be.

      1. Someone said to me before I started reading Dune that I was about to start an epic adventure. I find The Wheel of Time more daunting. It’s massive!

      2. The Wheel of Time is definitely daunting. I tried to start it as well, but I didn’t even take it home– didn’t have time for it then either.

      3. I have most of the books, but only read the first. It’s not that I don’t have time, I just have too many books.

  6. Hmm. I can see where you’re coming from with “Days” – it does drag a wee bit, and I guess you weren’t quite as pinned down by the writing style as I was (it’s very easy to pin me to a book if it’s written well). Ah well. Ne’er mind.

    I haven’t read any of these other ones – the first looked interesting, but I loathe contrived archaic language where it doesn’t fit in properly – but I’ve heard an awful lot about a few of them. Perhaps I shall hunt them out and give them a prod at some stage. Perhaps not.

    1. You might like Finnikin of the Rock. I’m not sure about Dune yet, though. It’s a monumental science fiction, so if you’re looking for common ground with sci-fi writers, that’s where you start.

      1. Eesh, sci-fi is always a bit worrying for me – I don’t like sci-fi that’s too heavy on the ‘sci’ part. Eh. I shall try them both and see, perhaps.

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