Friday, May 14, 2010

The put-down-list grows

What you don’t see on this blog is me putting down books. Right now it feels like I’m putting down books all. the. time. I don’t think I post very bad reviews anymore. I used to when I started out, but now I just don’t have the will or energy to post about books I don’t like anymore. I rather tell people about what I liked reading than what I didn’t.

I have to say that I’m really missing BYU library and their never ending supply of LDS fiction right about now. This is my put-it-down-for-bad-content reading journal for the past two months. Usually, I’d just let these little notes R.I.P on my computer, but I am so frustrated by having such a hard time finding good and clean fiction that I need to vent somewhere. My hubby is sick of hearing about it.

I think the fact that I have a book blog contributes to this frustration. Each good book that I read is like a little jewel I get to share with the world. I get to make it shiny and show it off. I really put a lot of care and research into the books that I read. I want high quality story-telling, decent writing (beautiful prose is a nice treat), and a decently clean read. I will admit that there is not a hard and fast rule for content. The Dead and Gone by Susan Beth Peffer was a very dark book and I really enjoyed it. I am not a Serial Killer was pretty gory and I really liked it also. In some cases a book comes down to personal preference, a lot of the books below are the case.

Sing me to Sleep by Angela Morrison
Didn’t finish because I couldn’t stand the sappy romance. Sometimes these types of books really bug me because while it is technically not smutty it is just as emotionally manipulative and unrealistic as regular-fare national market romance novel. Once the main-character and her romantic interest make-out all the other details of the setting and story plot line deteriorated until I couldn’t read any further. I have to admit I didn’t read that much further after their first kiss because the story became more focused on the main character finding her new crush/boyfriend to kiss behind pillars that to sing at competition. The story may have improved or not gotten worse after that. Sadly, I don’t read for the make-out sessions but for the plot line and couldn’t read further. I know lots of people enjoyed reading this novel. I guess I really despise romance that is physical attraction heavy.

Last Summer of the Death Warrior
When 2 out of the 3 woman introduced in the first 50 pages ended up being sluts in the worst sense of the word, I decided to quit while I was ahead. This was just after general conference and that may have influenced my decision not to read books that contained negative portrayals of women. The main-character is trying to investigate the death of his sister. He's convinced that the police are not looking into the suspicious deatils of her death and he's trying to find the truth. A long the way he ends up in a orphanage and meets a young man there who is about to die of cancer. This young man keeps bugging him and trying to be his friend.

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi
Got 150 pages in and there was a really gory violence scene and the action was only going to ratchet up from there. Violence usually doesn’t bother me, but this was just gross and it really didn’t have strong enough redeeming qualities to make me want to finish it. The characterization was good I guess in a stylistic sense, but I just couldn’t relate to the characters. Their world-view and morals was so different from mine that I couldn’t sympathize with their decisions or actions at all. The book takes a very dark view of human nature, as the main-characters are in a poverty stricken society where people will sell body parts for cash, but also cut off each others fingers, steal, and let other members of their crew die just to get out. It was a well-written book, but really not the one for me.

These is my words by Nancy Turner S
This book was given to me as a gift so I thought I would try it out. I knew people at BYU who read and enjoyed it so maybe it wouldn’t that bad. Wrong! So very beautiful but so very violent and distressing. I could slowly feel myself growing more and more numb the further I read. I had to stop to preserve my conscience. I didn’t even get half-way through. Good-bye to another book. Sniff.

The could be bad so I don’t want to chance it list:
Finnikin of the Rock
The librarian raved about this one, and it looks so good. Then I read the intro and the prologue.

Immediate impression: This is going to be an allegorical retelling of the holocaust in a fantasy setting.
Visceral gut reaction to reading further: don’t want to go there.
Head says: Really I don’t want to be the type of person who stops reading books all the time.
Viseral gut says: still don’t want to go there…
Head says: I’m going to analyze this thing to death with this set up. I’m going to try and figure out what characters are the Nazi’s and how the government compares with Hitler’s fascist regime.
Gut says: so not fun.
Head: but maybe it will be good?
Gut: not interested. If I want to know more about the horror of the holocaust I’ll go read a real history book and retellings by actual survivors. I’m a big, grown up history major now. I can find information if I want it. In fact, putting the holocaust in a fantasy setting feels sort of insulting and disrespectful.
Head: you’re over-reacting a little.
Gut: I know, but still…
Head: Yeah, doesn’t seem very right…
Gut and head: we’re not going to like this book.

Graceling and Fire by Kristen Cashore
The librarian and the kids at the school were raving about this one! I had read the first few pages of Graceling by now and wasn’t really interested. Secret girl assassin on a job to kill someone isn’t someone I immediately identify with, as I don’t like people who kill other people. Especially, not those that do it for a living, obviously by the end of the book she’s going to get out of her killing-people problem with great personal cost and danger. Sounds really predictable and not very interesting.

But they were just so excited about it, and so I brought it home. Husband— mad reader that he is finishes both books in one day— says, “You won’t like them.”
So, after a little more discussion I decided he was right. There was content in the book that would bug me and make me put it down anyway. So I took them straight back without reading them. Arggggg!


The Writer said...

You should put more non-book review content on your blog. More of your opinions on life, literature, etc. It makes for more interest. :)

I've long wanted a rating system for literature. Or maybe not so much a rating system as just some sort of indicator as to whether the reader can expect language, violence, sex, etc.

(I know there's websites that outline potentially objectionable material for movies; any idea if there is one that does it for books?)

But even with that, the reader still has to think. "To Kill a Mockingbird" is one of my favorite books, and it certainly has material that might be considered objectionable. In that case, it's all about context, I guess.

Susan said...

You didn't love SING ME TO SLEEP? *sigh* You're hopeless :) Kidding, kidding ...

I've been having some trouble with the books I'm reading, too. Slumps happen to us all.